Dairy West recently donated a refrigerated truck to the Idaho Foodbank to increase its capability to deliver milk and other perishables to food pantries throughout the state.
The 26-foot truck, which can handle about 1,800 gallons of fresh milk, cost $115,000.
“It’s easy for people to give canned and dry goods, but the perishable nature of dairy food makes it challenging to donate,” food bank CEO Karen Vauk said in a Dairy West news release. “Dairy West’s generous donation of a refrigerated truck is a game changer for the Idaho Foodbank, our partners and the families we serve.”
The foodbank considers dairy proteins critical to a nutritious diet and sees strong demand for milk, cheese and yogurt, she said.
The food bank distributes from Lewiston, Pocatello and its Boise headquarters. The 35-year-old nonprofit is the state’s largest distributor of free food assistance, in the last fiscal year providing enough for more than 17.5 million meals.
It operates community direct-service programs to promote nutrition and health. Its 400-plus community partners include schools, food pantries, senior centers, feeding sites and shelters.
Dairy West is a promotional organization representing dairy farmers, processors and supply-chain partners in Idaho and Utah.
CEO Karianne Fallow said dairy families the group represents have worked for years to support Idaho Foodbank and local pantries, in cooperation with various organizations.
For example, Dairy West over the first two weeks of June teamed with Boise-based grocery chain Albertsons to enable the food bank to buy dairy foods, distribute them to clients and provide vouchers redeemable for milk. Albertsons customers donated $20,866.79.
“One in seven Americans relies on food banks for nutritional assistance, and here at home in one of the top agricultural-producing states in the country, more than 210,000 Idahoans — including nearly 70,000 children — are food insecure,” she said.
On average, those served by food banks receive the equivalent of less than a gallon of milk per person annually — unfortunate since “dollar for dollar, milk is one of the most nutrient-rich foods a family can have on the table,” Fallow said.