EATON — Perishable food items such as dairy products, fresh produce and meat are some of the most highly requested items at food pantries. But with the need for refrigeration, these items are difficult for many food pantries to handle. Balchem is working with the seven food pantries in Preble County to purchase three industrial refrigerators and kick off a program to keep them full of dairy, produce and meat.
“The pandemic has drastically changed the food needs for many families in Preble County,” says Jenny McCarty, director of The Common Good of Preble County. “The Kooler Kids program will really help, not only with the food items we need, but long-term with the refrigerators that will allow us the flexibility to accept perishable items. It’s a game-changer for our pantries.”
Balchem began a nationwide program in 2020 with an initial pledge of $25,000 for local and grassroots projects. Balchem’s local field teams were empowered to work with partners and customers to identify local food pantries and coordinate additional sponsors. Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), through its DFA Cares Farmers Feeding Families Fund, committed funds to keep the refrigerator full of milk.
Through the creation of the Farmers Feeding Families Fund, which DFA created in April 2020, DFA and its farm family-owners and employees have been raising money to help provide support and deliver dairy products to community food banks across the country.
“Balchem’s core principles are focused on sustainability and that includes food security,” says Dr. Eric Altom, technical nutritionist at Balchem. “The Kooler Kids program is designed to provide the infrastructure that allows our local communities to provide the dairy and produce products that are so important for health.”
The Kooler Kids of Preble County is coordinating support from other agriculture companies to supply food donations that will keep the refrigerator units stocked.
The seven food pantries participating in the program include: The Common Good of Preble County Food Pantry, Lewisburg Food Pantry – Operated by LACC, Camden FISH Food Pantry Inc., Higher Heights Church of God Food Pantry, Monroe Township Food Bank, New Paris Community Food Bank and West Alexandria Food Bank.
“Milk is one of the most requested items at our pantries,” notes McCarty. “We estimate it would cost about $40 to supply a family with milk for the year and about $25 per year to give milk to a senior in our community.” Community donations are also accepted at Twin Valley Community Bank and Somerville Community Bank. Monetary donations will be used to purchase additional milk, meat and produce. Just reference the Kooler Kids of Preble County when making your donations.