(Barre, VT) As part of the ‘Home Fridge Advantage’ initiative between New England Dairy, dairy farmers of the region, New England Patriots’ Defensive Lineman Chase Winovich, and 98.5 The Sports Hub: Patriots Radio Network – more than 400 half gallons of milk are being donated to the VeggieVanGo program in Barre, VT. Food banks, hunger relief organizations, and feeding programs continue to experience a significant increase in the need for nutritious foods, like milk, and strive to make sure millions of people have access to the food they need nationwide.
The Home Fridge Advantage promotion was launched in 2020 to coincide with the Patriots’ season as a way for New England Dairy and local farmers to engage partners, build awareness of the need for milk, and give back to local communities. For each New England Patriot regular season home game, a food pantry was selected as the recipient of at least 100 gallons of milk to be distributed within their service area.
Staying grounded to the challenges and situations that continue to be caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was strongly felt milk donations should be a part of the campaign. Milk remains one of the most requested, yet least donated items at American food banks according to Feeding America. The fluid milk donation to VeggieVanGo will increase the campaign total to over 800 gallons.
“Hunger in Vermont has reached unprecedented levels during the pandemic, with 1 in 3 people facing hunger since the start of the pandemic,” says Vermont Foodbank CEO, John Sayles. “These extreme numbers make it even more impactful to have the assistance of New England Dairy to help feed our community.”
The fluid milk donation to VeggieVanGo was an opportunity to help boost the program’s community feeding efforts. VeggieVanGo is administered by the Vermont Foodbank and provides an opportunity for participants to bring home fresh produce, they also create a gathering place that offers support and conversations about healthy food. Vermont Foodbank estimates they serve 400 families at each event in their Barre location.
Over the course of the three–month initiative, more than 800 gallons of milk will have been donated to food pantries across New England. Those milk donations are made possible by regional dairy farmers and local dairy processors who have been supporting local schools for more than a century. Friday’s donation in Barre is made possible by Booth Bros. – a local dairy brand which uses milk specifically from Vermont dairy farms.
Brookfield, Vermont dairy farmers Keith and Chelsea Sprague were on hand Friday to see the feeding program in action. “As a Booth Bros. dairy farm, we take tremendous pride in producing a nutritious food source that is helping to feed our neighbors and other families across the state,” stated Keith Sprague of Sprague Ranch.
“Efforts like these speak to the essence of farming in New England. Our dairy farms are a vibrant part of their communities. They seek out opportunities to enhance, enrich, and improve as many aspects as possible. Nutrition and healthy eating are near and dear to their hearts,” explained Jill Hussels RDN, School Nutrition Specialist, New England Dairy.
It’s projected that more than 50 million Americans may need food assistance from food banks and food pantries across the country. In Vermont, 1 in 3 residents have faced food insecurity since the pandemic began, a significant increase from the 1 in 10 food insecurity rate pre-pandemic.
Feeding programs in Barre, VT and Worcester, MA are the final two communities to receive milk donations – the hometowns of New England Dairy’s Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassadors. Brianna (VT) and Isobel (MA) were selected as Student Ambassadors thanks to their excellent leadership skills and dedication to making positive changes in their schools and communities. In Barre, Brianna works to elevate the focus on, and importance of eating healthy and staying active – both pillars of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program.
Dairy farms are the lifeblood of many communities throughout New England, creating jobs, investing in the local economy, and supporting childhood health and education. Milk and other dairy foods can play an important role in overall health and wellness. Eating three daily servings of dairy foods like milk, cheese, or yogurt can help close key nutrient gaps and contribute to nutrient-rich, healthy eating patterns. Milk provides a unique package of 9 essential nutrients including calcium, potassium and Vitamin D – a nutritional powerhouse for families and students.
About Veggie Van Go
The Vermont Foodbank’s VeggieVanGo events promote health for Vermonters. VeggieVanGo events not only provide an opportunity for participants to bring home fresh produce, they also create a gathering place that offers support and conversations about healthy food. Our truck arrives with large bins of thousands of pounds of fresh food and, with the help of our amazing volunteers we provide produce to hundreds of families and individuals in need each month. Through this program we expect to distribute 2 million pounds of fresh food to our neighbors facing hunger this year.
About New England Dairy
New England Dairy’s mission is to champion the region’s farm families and the nutritious foods they produce. The non-profit organization does this by sharing the New England dairy story, connecting people to dairy farms, supporting youth wellness in schools and delivering the latest nutrition and sustainability science to health professionals, scientists, media, nutrition professionals and educators.
About Booth Bros.
Booth Bros. Is proud to be in Vermont and proud to provide fresh milk from local Vermont farms. Thanks to the dedication of farmers across the state, you know that Booth Bros. Milk meets the highest quality standards. All milk processed at the Booth Bros. plant in Barre is sourced from Vermont farms across the state and from farmers that pledge not to use artificial growth hormones.
About Fuel Up to Play 60
Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Dairy Council (NDC) and National Football League (NFL), with additional partnership support from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is designed to engage and empower youth to take action for their own health by implementing long-term, positive changes for themselves and their schools. Customizable and non-prescriptive program components are grounded in research with youth, including tools and resources, in-school promotional materials, a website and student challenges. Fuel Up to Play 60 is further supported by several health and nutrition organizations: Action for Healthy Kids, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association and School Nutrition Association. Visit FuelUpToPlay60.com to learn more.