WATERLOO, Iowa – People in need in northeast Iowa will now have more access to milk due to a local donation campaign.
    The Black Hawk County Farm Bureau came up with #MilkMonday where every Monday, customers can round up their purchase at Fareway Foods to donate money to buy milk for the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, based in Waterloo, Iowa. All Fareway Foods and Farm Bureau organizations in the 16 counties served by the Northeast Iowa Food Bank have teamed together to be a part of the campaign, which started during ag week in April and runs through June.
    “Having the resources to access dairy has always been difficult so when they (Farm Bureau) came to us with this, we were really excited about it,” said Barb Prather, executive director for Northeast Iowa Food Bank. “We know milk is a product our clients want and it can be expensive for them.”
    The idea for the campaign came last fall when Brad Jesse, a Black Hawk County Farm Bureau board member, had a beef cow that rejected one of her twins on his crop and beef farm near La Porte City, Iowa.
    “I went to my neighbor who is a dairy farmer to get colostrum. I asked, ‘What do I owe you?’ He said, ‘If you donate milk to the food bank, that would be good enough.’ So it just snowballed from there,” Jesse said.
    Jesse wanted to get more than a few gallons donated.
    “I know dairy farmers have it pretty rough right now and donating to the food bank seemed to be a win-win situation,” he said. “It would be good for people who need the milk and good for the dairy farmers.”
    The Northeast Iowa Food Bank will buy a large portion of the milk from Hansen’s Dairy, a local dairy farm that processes its own dairy products.
    “We already have the negotiated rate so they can get the milk at a low fixed rate so the donated money can go a lot farther,” said Jordan Hansen, with Hansen’s Dairy in Hudson, Iowa.
    The food bank has already been working with the dairy for at least the last three years when the dairy had a surplus of skim milk.
    “It feels really good we can match up what our needs are and their needs are,” Hansen said. “It makes us feel really good that we’re making this nutritious product to bring to the food bank …”
    In their two local retail stores, Hansen’s Dairy is also asking people to round up their purchase or purchase an extra gallon of milk to donate to the food bank.
    During the first month, the campaign raised $9,024.38. In addition to the money from rounding up purchases at Fareway Foods, the grocery store also made a donation along with initial donations from Farm Bureau and from Hansen’s Dairy.
    “We were totally blown away with that the first month,” said Becky Moss, office administrator for Farm Bureau in both Delaware and Black Hawk Counties. “That was what we thought we might get over the three months of the campaign. We’re thrilled with that amount.”
    Prather is thankful for the extra funds to buy an essential food item for people in need.
    “It’s such an important part of daily nutrition, giving young kids, as well as adults, the essential vitamins and calcium they need,” Prather said.
    However, this campaign has benefited the region in more ways than one.
    “It creates awareness of the issue of hunger exists and it creates a great partnership with the dairy industry, the farmers and the Farm Bureau,” she said.
    As one of the founders of the campaign, Jesse is glad his idea has made a difference.
    “It feels good to be able to help those in need,” he said.