Milk glass and pitcher
April 11, 2020

COVID-19 Forces Shift in Dairy Checkoff Business Plan

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Dairy Checkoff program to both shift and pivot its business plan to better meet the needs of students and those seeking food from food banks.

“…Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI) and its network of 16 state and regional units have quickly responded to the still deepening business and cultural shifts occurring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Barb O’Brien, DMI president. It’s a 3-pronged effort:

Ensuring access to school meals. DMI’s GENYOUTH program created the “For School’s Sake—Help Us Feed Our Nation’s Kids!” Initiative, which so far has generated $3 million in corporate and individual donations. "I cannot underscore how critical the need is right now for the 30 million kids who rely on school meals. The demands are urgent and time-sensitive to support our front-line school nutrition workers as they feed our nation's students," said Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth.

O’Brien says more than 5,000 applications have been submitted by school districts requesting up to $3,000 grants for equipment, packaging and other supplies as school foodservice professionals work to feed at-risk children. GENYOUTH seeks to raise another $12 million to satisfy these requests, she says.

Help for food banks. Already, more than 100,000 gallons of excess milk is being diverted per week to food banks in Texas, New Mexico, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New York and New England.

Engaging partners across the supply chain. Domino’s, which has more than a decade’s worth of experience partnering with dairy farmers, is working with GENYOUTH to pilot a grab-and-go meal program at 31 public school sites in Miami. In addition, about 23,000 meals have been made available through other franchises in Michigan while other locations are being explored. The U.S. Dairy Export Council is working to realign the supply of dairy products to those in need to assure such products continue or resume to flow through export markets.