Thursday, March 27, 2014

Feed Them Milk: A New (and Needed) Approach to Nourishing Americans

It is very gratifying to watch my sons eat their cereal and milk every morning; how with every spoonful their bodies awaken a little more. They might have dragged themselves to the kitchen table, but they usually leave with a skip in their step thanks to the nourishment they received.

Milk is a key component of their breakfast. In fact, milk makes every meal more nutritious. It contains nine essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein per 8-ounce serving and three of the top nutrients most likely to be missing in the American diet: calcium, vitamin D and potassium.

Starting the morning with a nutritious breakfast that includes milk is a great way to get ready to tackle the day. I see the difference milk makes in my boys every morning.

Sadly, perishable items such as milk, which many of us consider a staple, are absent from homes across the country because they are not available in many of America’s food banks. According to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, milk is one of the items most requested by food bank clients, yet there is a nationwide shortage because it is rarely donated. (See infographic.) The refrigerated distribution logistics from warehouse to kitchen are very challenging.

Feeding America participants currently receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person a year. That’s far short of the recommended three servings of milk a day.

Many of us learned about this during the 2014 Dairy Forum in January. That is when the MilkPEP folks unveiled their new milk marketing campaigns, one of which is in collaboration with The National Dairy Council and is called The Great American Milk Drive. This first-ever national program is designed to help deliver highly desired and nutrient-rich gallons of milk to hungry families who need it most.

You can access a video explaining the situation and the program HERE.

Did you know that hunger impacts one in six Americans, including 12.5 million families who do not have access to adequate nourishment to help them reach their full potential? Hunger has no boundaries and is a problem that exists in urban, suburban and rural communities.

When the MilkPEP team presented the campaign at Dairy Forum, I got goose bumps. This is one of the best feel-good programs I have heard about in a long time. I hope you agree. I also hope that all U.S. subscribers of the Daily Dose of Dairy get on board. There are many ways for local milk companies and farm families to get involved with The Great American Milk Drive, including retail activations, on-pack promotions and social communications. 

You are cordially invited to hear more this Wednesday, April 2 at 11:45am EST during a live stream of the official launch of the campaign. You can experience this event by clicking HERE.

The Great American Milk Drive brings the dairy industry together around the issue of hunger. Together, MilkPEP and The National Dairy Council have created this national campaign to elevate awareness of the need for milk in the nation’s feeding programs, allowing milk companies and farm families to join in together to provide Americans a simple way to help. It’s a program that does good and helps the industry benefit, as well.

The program is designed to encourage consumers to make a simple donation--purchasing an extra gallon of milk--that Feeding America will make sure gets on the table of local families who need it most.

Here’s how the program works. It’s Americans feeding Americans. We the people can lend a hand and contribute nutritious milk to feed families in need. Initially the campaign will instruct Americans to make a financial donation via website site or text message. By entering their zip code, the milk donation goes to their own community’s food bank. Food bank clients will receive a voucher to purchase any brand and any type of gallon of milk (up to $5.00) at their retailer of choice.

A robust national program (including TV advertising, retail support, social media and local events) will encourage Americans to support the drive. Over time, additional ways to donate will be made available. The tear pad is what I am most excited about. Milk marketers will work with their retailers to add a scan code to the tear pad. Shoppers can pick up a sheet, hand it to their cashier to be scanned and a have a donation added to their grocery bill. The donator’s name can then be added to the tear pad and displayed in recognition of their donation. Talk about a feel good…while you buy your own family a gallon of milk you can buy a gallon for a family in need.

At the same time The Great American Milk Drive was unveiled in January, MilkPEP also introduced the Milk Life campaign, which is designed to promote the consumption of protein-rich milk at breakfast. Together, the two campaigns will “propel milk back into a position of power,” according to Julia Kadison, interim CEO of MilkPEP. “We know that to achieve this, milk has to have a really strong positioning.

“Not only do we have to capture the minds of people by making sure they understand why it’s relevant and important for them to drink milk--and in 2014 and for the foreseeable future we will be talking about protein and the benefits of protein--but we also have to capture their hearts,” she said.

Milk Life was officially launched on February 24. You can view two of the TV commercials by clicking on the images below:

Milk Life Breakdancer

Milk Life Dog Walker

Kadison's closing comment on The Great American Milk Drive is:  “It’s going to give them another reason to purchase another gallon of milk, not for their own consumption but to help other families who cannot afford it themselves.”

Let’s feed them milk.

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