We’ve all heard that drinking milk is important because it has calcium that promotes strong bones. Unfortunately, milk is an item that is highly requested but rarely donated to food banks and pantries. And for the one in six Americans facing hunger and food insecurity, food banks and pantries may be an important source of nutritious food.
That’s why Feeding America is teaming up with dairy farmers and milk companies to promote The Great American Milk Drive. The campaign not only raises awareness about the short supply of dairy products in food banks, but it also provides an easy way to donate milk. The milk drive runs through April 1, 2015, and allows people to donate money to have fresh milk delivered to food banks in their local community.
It’s not just the calcium in milk and other dairy products that makes it so nutritious. An 8-ounce glass of milk also provides 8 grams of protein and is a good source of potassium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and vitamin A. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends three cups of dairy per day for most youth and adults. That adds up to more than a gallon of milk a week, but food banks on average have enough milk to provide less than one gallon per client per year, according to Feeding America. That highlights how large the milk gap really is.
When considering the health of people struggling with food insecurity, it’s important to also think about the other food groups. Donating a variety of healthy foods to food banks is one way to help support your local community. Examples of other healthy donations include canned fruit packed in juice, low-sodium canned vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, such as dried beans or canned tuna.
Chloe Berdan, MS, RD, LD, is a clinical dietitian with ProMedica Advocacy and Community Health, and her main passion is promoting childhood and adolescent health and wellness. She has a bachelor of science degree in Health and Sport Studies from Miami University and a master of science degree in Clinical Nutrition from Rush University.