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Weekend Event Aims to Raise Awareness, Provide Access for Milk Resources

Ozarks Food Harvest

Saturday, Ozarks Food Harvest will be hosting The Great American Milk Drive.  Organizers say this fun family event is for all ages, with the goal of raising both awareness and milk money for hungry Ozarks families. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann talked with organizers and has the details.   

The Great American Milk Drive is a national program created by the National Dairy Council and Feeding America to increase access to milk for food-insecure families. This will be the first year Ozarks Food Harvest is hosting the event locally.

Julia Henry is a dietetic intern at Missouri State University and one of the organizers of the event.

“The big reason for the event is to raise awareness about the need for milk in food pantries. There’s a shortage.  Roughly about less than a gallon of milk per person per year is available in a food pantry,” shares Henry.

Money raised from this event provides milk vouchers that can be redeemed at any retailer. A $5 donation provides one gallon of milk. Not only does this help food pantries by not having to store or distribute perishable items, but it provides the recipient with choices.  Vouchers can be used for any white dairy milk including lactose free options.

Henry explains that milk provides so many nutritional benefits including calcium, potassium, vitamins A and D, riboflavin and especially protein.

“Milk is very highly requested in the food banks, and it’s also one of the better sources of protein.  And protein is really hard to get in a food bank just because of the types of foods that are donated.  So milk is a really good source of it—one glass has 8 grams of protein,” explains Henry.

Madeline Brown is with Ozarks Food Harvest.  She says Saturday’s event is a great way to kick off National Dairy Month in June. It’s an opportunity to raise money to provide under resourced children with better nutrition over the summer.

“[When the kids are out of school] and they are not receiving those breakfasts and lunch meals that come with milk.  They are lacking that in their homes sometimes, and so this is a great push for the summer months,” Brown explains.

Saturday’s event will take place at Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., it is free and open to the public.  There will be many activities for all ages including live music, food, a petting zoo, games, prizes and cow milking demonstrations. 

Theresa received her undergraduate degree in sociology at Missouri State University, as well as her Master's degree in Social Work at MSU. Theresa enjoys writing, drawing, reading, music, working with animals, and most of all spending time with her family. She wishes to continue to use her experiences, combined with her pursuit of education, to foster a sense of empowerment and social awareness in the community. Theresa loves working with KSMU and attributes her passion for NPR, and love of learning, to her father.