Today, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank announced a partnership with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Daisy® Brand to feed Ohio area families in need by converting surplus milk from area farmers into nutritious cottage cheese.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some retailers have been forced to set quantity limits on milk, while schools and restaurant closings have also significantly diminished demand for milk, resulting in an overproduction. Consequently, dairy farmers are being forced to dump surplus milk across the country.

Simultaneously, food insecurity has increased as food banks are seeing unprecedented demand. The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank reports a 30 percent increase in the amount of food distributed in March 2020 over March of the previous year. The Foodbank and its network of 500 hunger-relief programs has also seen a 109 percent increase in first-time food program visitors this March compared to March 2019.

Together, DFA and Daisy Brand devised a plan to use the surplus milk from Ohio farmers for good. As the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, DFA is procuring and donating milk from Ohio farmers, which Daisy’s manufacturing facility in Wooster, Ohio is processing and converting to protein-rich cottage cheese. Over the course of six weeks, the partnership will donate 120,000 pounds of its cottage cheese to area food banks. The first delivery of cottage cheese occurred on April 16.

“We’re grateful for the creativity and innovation shown by the Dairy Farmers of America and Daisy Brand. Because of this unique partnership, the individuals, families and seniors in our region will have access to nourishing, protein-rich food, that would have otherwise gone to waste. It’s collaboration across sectors like this that truly benefit the overall well-being of our community,” said Dan Flowers, president and CEO of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.

“Much like the rest of the nation and the world, COVID-19 has brought unpredictability and challenges to the dairy industry. As restaurants, hotels and schools have closed, demand for milk and other dairy products has decreased dramatically, unfortunately leaving us with a surplus of milk,” said Heather McCann, director of public affairs for DFA’s Mideast Area. “Millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet and food banks are seeing increased demand for their services. Working with processors to donate dairy products is a solution that helps feed hungry families and ensures the dairy products our farmers produce don’t go to waste.”

“It is heart-breaking to hear that our friends and neighbors have had to dump milk,” said Bill Besancon a DFA Board member and farmer from Wooster, Ohio. “Daisy has been an amazing partner and community member since the plant opened. As a dairy farmer, I am so proud of how they have stepped up and offered to take donated milk and process it into cottage cheese to help feed families in need. This is one way to salvage some good from an otherwise terrible situation.”

“We’re grateful for this unique partnership and the opportunity it provides to help the very community in which many of our employees live and work,” said Scott Dormire, plant manager of Daisy’s facility in Wooster. “Together we’re able to feed families in need, while alleviating additional economic and environmental burdens on farmers that otherwise may need to dump the surplus milk. We’re appreciative of our employees who are finding a way to ramp up production for this donation, while still keeping up with customer orders needed to stock grocery shelves across the country.”