Vermont recovers surplus milk for food donations
MONTPELIER, Vt (AP) — Vermont is recovering some of the milk that farmers are having to dispose of and donating it to the Vermont Foodbank, with help from a $60,000 grant from the Vermont Community Foundation.
A big chunk of dairy farmers’ business has been wiped out as schools, restaurants, institutions and universities closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Plants set up to make food service products — like large packages of mozzarella cheese — aren’t able to pivot quickly and start churning out gallons of milk. Retail milk sales were up when the virus first hit as consumers bulked up on groceries but have declined since then, officials have said.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture announced Wednesday that the money will be used to buy the milk. Dairy Farmers of America farms will provide the milk to Green Mountain Creamery and HP Hood, which will process it into yogurt and 2% milk.
A total of 42,000 cups of yogurt and over 11,500 gallons of milk will be donated to the Vermont Foodbank, to serve hundreds of food bank clients, the agency said. The milk will be produced weekly for 10 weeks and the yogurt will be made and donated throughout the month of May.
“This collaboration highlights the integral role of Vermont dairy farms in our state’s food system,” Gov. Phil Scott said. “I applaud these groups for supporting our farmers and Vermonters in need, feeding our most vulnerable and not wasting a valuable and healthy agricultural product.”
On Wednesday, the Vermont Department of Health reported two new positive cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the total to just under 910. The number of deaths remained at 52.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with underlying health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.