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Hannah Riser of JoBo Holstein Farm was one of the volunteers who helped deliver two tanker loads of raw milk to a Pennsylvania processing plant.

The farm community is responding with heart to the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmer donations of milk, meat, eggs and produce are helping individuals and food banks in the increasingly difficult job of feeding needy families. Many of those families weren’t even close to needy two short months ago.

People who aren’t needy, who are able to weather the pandemic economics, are making it a point to buy from their local farm markets and farmer CSAs.

Staffers here at Lancaster Farming get emails almost daily about the ways farmers and consumers are helping each other. Every email holds a story and we’re happy to share those stories. Please keep them coming. Here are recaps of some of the most recent items that have reached our inboxes.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Center for Dairy Excellence coordinated the distribution of 13,000 gallons of raw milk from JoBo Holstein Farm in Gettysburg and Mount Rock Dairy in Newville. Each dairy donated a tanker load to support a milk drive organized by the Blessings of Hope Food Bank and 97 Milk, LLC.

The raw milk was processed into gallons and half-gallons of whole milk, which were donated to nearby food pantries and distributed in food boxes to families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Center for Dairy Excellence has partnered with King Construction Co., LLC, to coordinate the process of sending excess tanker loads of milk from farms over base to be processed for families in need by connecting dairy farms, milk processors and agribusinesses.

BALTIMORE, Md. — Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford was just another volunteer on a recent Saturday as he helped deliver donated poultry products from Perdue Farms to the food bank at Baltimore’s Ark Church. The products were donated to some of Baltimore’s neediest families.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A milk drive organized by Dairy Farmers of America took delivery of 8,000 gallons of surplus raw milk donated by farmer members in the Syracuse area. According to a story in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, after the milk was processed, 2,000 gallons were donated to the Syracuse city school district, 1,000 gallons went to residents of the city’s senior housing facilities, and 5,000 gallons went to Syracuse residents in a drive-thru at the Destiny USA Mall in Syracuse. Helping DFA volunteers with the drive-through were more volunteers from Dean Foods and the American Dairy Association North East.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State has donated more than $25,000 worth of food products to nearby food pantries. The college’s meats laboratory, a USDA-inspected processing facility, delivered frozen bratwurst, pork sausage, pork and beef roasts, kielbasa, ground beef and ham loaf to the State College Food Bank.

The poultry education and research center continues its practice of donating cases of eggs every week to a group of five local food banks serving thousands of needy people.

The University’s Berkey Creamery processes milk from the university dairy herd into a wide variety of dairy products — fluid milk, cheese, ice cream, etc. The creamery has increased its deliveries to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, which works to reduce hunger in a 27-county area.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Pork Producers Council, the Pennsylvania Pork Strategic Investment Program, and industry partners teamed up to provide almost 90,000 pounds of protein to Feeding Pennsylvania in an effort to offer assistance to in-need neighbors throughout the state. The pork, including a variety of cuts such as tenderloin, chops, bacon and sausage, will be distributed statewide to Feeding Pennsylvania’s nine member food banks that aim to provide hunger relief to communities in all 67 of the state’s counties.

EVANS CITY, Pa. — The Beaver County Times reported that Sen. Elder Vogel Jr. and his wife, Sue, bought 1,536 cartons of milk from the Marburger Dairy plant and donated 600 cartons to the Faith Restorations Food Pantry in Beaver County. They donated the rest to Meals on Wheels of Lawrence County, and the Lawrence County Community Action Partnership.

Vogel, a lifelong dairy farmer, is a Republican member of the Pennsylvania State Senate, where he chairs the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

HERSHEY, Pa. — The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank announced on May 6 that it had received money and product donations from the Land O’Lakes cooperative, American Sugar Refining, Inc., and the Hershey Co.

Hershey donated $50,000 to help the food bank cope with increased demand brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. ASR donated sugar, and Land O’Lakes matched Hershey’s cash with the equivalent amount of milk. Land O’Lakes has 1,000 members in Pennsylvania, 460 employees in the state, and ships 1.2 million pounds of members’ milk every day to the Hershey plant, which uses it to make milk chocolate.

If You Want to Donate

If you are a farmer or agribusiness with fresh produce that must be either given away or thrown away, and you choose to give it away, there are a number of ways to go about it. Following are a few of the organizations that accept food donations in the Northeast.

Connecticut: Food Bank Farm to Pantry program. Contact procurement@ctfoodbank.org, or call 203-469-5000, extension 336.

Rhode Island: Farm Fresh Rhode Island Farm to Food Pantry program. Contact thea@farmfresri.org.

Virginia: Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Farm Fresh program. Contact TLilley@braftb.org, or call 540-213-8424.

Maryland: Maryland Food Bank Farm to Food Bank program. Contact acawley@mdfoodbank.org.

Massachusetts: Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Farm to Food Bank program. Contact foodbank@foodbankwma.org or call 800-247-9362.

Maine: Good Shepherd Food Bank Mainers Feeding Mainers program. Contact nperry@gsfb.org or call 207-782-3554 extension 1109.

KEMPTON, Pa. — When Timi and Keith Bauscher, owners of The Nesting Box Farm Market and Creamery, learned that egg farmer Joshua Zimmerman had lost a buyer for about half the output of his 80,000 layers, they sprang into action. Zimmerman’s farm is in Hamburg, just a few miles from the Nesting Box. Just days after his regular market disappeared, the Bauschers had organized a drive-through egg sale at their store. The sale saw a mile-long traffic backup of buyers who were eager to pay $2 a dozen — five-dozen minimum — for Zimmerman’s eggs. The sale went over so well, the Bauscher’s held sales again on May 3 and May 10 at the Kempton Community Center. All three events helped Zimmerman continue producing eggs from his entire flock, rather than going through the distress of euthanizing half his hens.

LITITZ, Pa. — Field’s Edge Farm supplied local ingredients for 100 freshly prepared farm-to-table meals delivered to EMS first responders throughout Lancaster County on Tuesday, May 19.

The meals were donated in recognition of EMS week by Lancaster’s Plough Restaurant, and delivered by drivers from High Associates Ltd., a partner in the Marriott Hotel, which is home to the restaurant. Plough chef Ryan McQuillan prepared the meals, which consisted of a prosciutto and provolone sandwich with a basil pesto on house-made focaccia. The sandwich was accompanied by a salad of blueberry, farro and arugula topped by a sunflower seed-balsamic dressing. Chips and chocolate chip cookies rounded out the meals.

KUTZTOWN, Pa. — Setter Ridge Vineyards has committed to donating 100 bottles of its estate bottled wines to 100 essential workers in the counties of Berks, Lancaster, Chester, Montgomery, Lehigh, Schuylkill or Lebanon. The vineyard is hoping local citizens will nominate essential workers — grocery store employees, ambulance drivers, EMS responders and all the rest — to each receive one bottle of their signature wines. They are also hoping for a little help in the shipping cost of the wine, which is $15 a pop. Because it’s alcohol, it’s a little complicated, so for more details, if you’re interested, contact Missy at mwilson@setterridgevineyards.com.

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — Snider’s Elevator, Inc., teamed with local farmers and friends of agriculture to deliver free milk to members of the Franklin County community.

The event took place Saturday, May 9, at Snider’s Elevator, where volunteers manned a drive-through curbside pickup delivery chain to present whole milk from Harrisburg Dairies to local families.

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