Dairy farmers help bring milk and meals to children during the summer months

SYRACUSE, NY – When school is out for the summer, millions of children lose access to school meals that include dairy, leaving them at risk of going hungry. Dairy farmers in the Northeast Region of the American Dairy Association recognize this problem and are doing their part to ensure children can get nutritious meals when school is out.

The Summer Food Service Program was established by USDA and ADA North East joins forces with local community groups to support the program and ensure dairy’s place in healthy meals.

“Making sure kids don’t skip meals during the summer months is a priority for dairy farmers, and therefore a priority for dairy verification,” said John Chrisman, executive director of ADA North East. “We fully support the Summer Meals program to help fill this nutritional gap in our local communities.”

Meals are free for children under 18 and include milk and other nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables and more. The feeding sites are located in the low-income areas of the region.

Dairy farmers Caleb and Alice Crothers of Long Green Farms, Rising Sun, Md., brought a Holstein calf to downtown Baltimore to start the city’s summer meal program that provides milk and meals to students when school is out.

“As a dairy farmer, I care deeply about providing high-quality, nutritious dairy products to our community,” said Alice Crothers. “It was great connecting with these students who depend on school meals during the school year and in the summer about where their food comes from, and having our daughters share about our farm and animals.”

Dairy farmer Lisa Mesch of JLM Dairy, Collins, NY, and her daughter, Erie County Dairy Ambassador Jocelyn Mesch, along with Associate Erie County Ambassador Payge Murray brought a Holstein calf to the Buffalo center to kick off the city’s summer meal program. They were joined by Buffalo Bills player and dairy advocate Isaiah McKenzie as part of ADA North East’s partnership with Fuel Up to Play 60.

Many families don’t know that meals are still available when school is out and may have to spend up to $300 a month to feed children during the summer months. To find a summer meal site, families can text “SUMMER MEALS” to 97779.

In response, ADA North East has also established a geo-targeted social media campaign to promote summer dining. Help families find nearby sites in their neighborhoods through digital ads on ADA North East’s Facebook, Instagram and TikTok pages.. Ads have launched in English in 20 cities in our region, in addition to Spanish versions in Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia, and several cities in New Jersey.

Of the 20 million students across the country who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch during the school year, fewer than five million participated in the Summer Food Service Program last year, leaving 15 million children without service.

“We’re doing our part to make sure kids and families have access to milk and meals, so no one has to go hungry,” Chrisman added.

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