By DAN WHEAT
MABTON, Wash. -- Owners of eight Yakima Valley dairies are donating $60,000 to provide 25,000 gallons of milk to food banks from Yakima to the Tri-Cities over the next 12 months.
The "Dairy for Life" program will provide milk for people who need and appreciate it, said Bill Wavrin, a Mabton dairy farmer and one of the participants.
"Our businesses depend on paying customers, but at the same time we in dairy recognize the importance of providing nutritious foods to those in need," Wavrin said.
Wavrin is on the board of Northwest Dairy Association, which owns and operates Darigold.
Gallon jugs of Darigold 2 percent milk will be distributed by Second Harvest, a distributor of food to food banks in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. The milk will be handled by Second Harvest's Pasco center that distributes close to 500,000 pounds of free food each month to more than 50 partner programs in Southeastern Washington.
"Dairy for Life" will play a key role in meeting the needs of the hungry, said Jason Clark, president and CEO of Second Harvest.
Food lines served by Second Harvest have grown by up to 25 percent with 1 out of 7 people in the Columbia Basin, including 1 out of 4 children, hungry or at risk of hunger, according to a recent report by Feeding America, Clark noted.
Participating dairies are: Sunny Dene Ranch, Wavrin families; DeRuyter Brothers Dairy, Jake and Genny DeRuyter; Skyridge Farms, Dan and Carolyn DeGroot; deVries Family Dairy, Tom and Heather deVries; Cow Palace, Dolsen families; and Sunnyside Dairy, the Aquilini family, Henry and Lori Oord, and Jon and Lori Wheeler.
Yakima Valley dairies have conducted food drives in the last two years to benefit Second Harvest and area food banks.