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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Top Stories

Valley dairy farmers have donated 12,000 half-gallons of milk to area food banks as part of a new effort to help the needy.

The donation -- the equivalent of a tanker truck of milk -- was provided by the 250 members of the Land O' Lakes dairy cooperative in Tulare and processed by Producers Dairy in Fresno.

The effort was coordinated by the California Association of Food Banks.

The agency hopes the dairy donation can be used as a model for other dairy cooperatives and processors to follow statewide.

"There have been some tough times in the dairy industry but these farmers have really stepped up," said Rod Stark, who handles food sourcing for the California Association of Food Banks.

Pete Garbani, director of Western milk supply for Land O' Lakes, expects others in the state's dairy industry to respond to the call for help.

"There are many other cooperatives and processors that could do this and be part of an effort like this," Garbani said.

The milk donation was spread among three food banks.

The Fresno Community Food Bank received 5,650 cartons, FoodLink for Tulare County received 2,330 cartons and the Community Action Partnership of Kern County received 4,020 cartons of milk.

Andy Souza, CEO of the Community Food Bank in Fresno, said milk donations have been infrequent due to a loss of a regional milk processor and other obstacles, so any new source of milk is welcomed.

"The families we serve are on a limited budget and they don't always have the money to spend on milk and produce," Souza said. "And this has put milk in the hands of 12,000 families, free of charge."

The Community Food Bank supplies food to 170 agencies that serve 90,000 people a week.

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