Thurs., Sept. 6, 2018
1 John 3:18 – Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, and not merely by talking about it.
A whole bunch of boxes arrived on our porch this week. Later, Hubby Rick asked me “what got dumped on the porch. Did they hit the right house?”
Yes, they hit the right house. And yes, I shared with you a couple days earlier that they would be delivered to our house.
“What is it?”
Why, it’s milk!
This is the first week of school for our school district. On Friday, we will resume putting together our Blessings food bags for some of the students. These are bags with at least 8 items, most often more, for kids to take home so they have some food for the weekend. Students who might not otherwise have enough food for the weekend.
A typical week food bag has this: 2 breakfast items (think pop tart, oatmeal, small box of cereal or fruit bar); 2 meal items (like easy mac, canned pasta, soup, ramen noodles, tuna and mayo); and at least 4 snack items but often more (examples are filled crackers, granola bar, fruit snacks, can of veggies, pudding, applesauce, Rice Krispy bars, popcorn and my favorite stackable Ritz crackers and individual serving of peanut butter.)
We know it’s not enough food for the weekend but it’s a start.
Why do we hand out these food bags? Statistics show that students who do not have to worry about food attend school more consistently, do better in class, score higher on standardized testing and have less behavior situations. My thought is: let’s give students what they need to help move them towards achieving their goals!
This will be the third year a group of volunteers in our community have organized the weekend food bags. Time and time again we hear positive comments. Students feel they are “contributing” to their family rather than being a burden; how this IS the food a student has for the weekend; Friday is food bag day! This is exactly why I am involved in our Blessings program.
The last few months, Wisconsin dairy farmers and their families are in a position that most of them need weekend food bags. Not just for their kids but for the entire family. Farm gate prices the dairy producers have been receiving has been terribly low. Dairy farmers are leaving by droves and there isn’t an end in sight.
This issue is dear to my heart. I grew up on a dairy farm and my family lived through the 1980’s downturn in the dairy industry. My part-time marketing job is directly related to the dairy industry. Nearly weekly, we become aware of a previous customer who is no longer milking cows.
I’ve tried to come up with some small, easy ways local people can assist dairy farmers. Donate cheese to the food pantry. Share how people are donating milk to the food pantry. Encourage cow milk consumption versus alternative options. (Honestly, an honest comparison of the nutritional facts might surprise you.)
When our small group of Blessings leadership team met, I suggested including milk in our weekly distribution. With no refrigeration available, I know the milk needed to be a product that does not require refrigeration.
There is such a product available. It’s called UHT milk: ultra-high temperature milk. This milk goes through a special process so milk can set upon a shelf for a few months without refrigeration. I had purchased samples for the ladies to taste. Quickly, it was decided to include milk every week. We would keep our weekly average packing cost to about $2.63/bay/week. The milk would be above and beyond this and would not affect the number of products receive. The milk would be a weekly add-on.
The favorite sample happened to be a chocolate milk variety. And it was good!
I had purchased a few samples. Obtaining a large quantity was another question. After some digging, the best option was to order it online. As much as I prefer to purchase locally, this time, going online became the best option.
Hence, all the milk on our front porch. On Friday, every student will receive one of these 8-oz cartons of chocolate milk that does not have to be refrigerated. We pray the kids are as excited about receiving the milk as the volunteer leaders are about donating it.
UHT milk has not become as popular in the US as it is in other parts of the world. With UHT milk, you can take milk to a weekend sporting event and not worry about refrigeration. Milk can be use camping, on vacation or when traveling. Think about the additional ways you could use milk this week if it did not have to be refrigerated!
I’m anxious to receive feedback from the Blessings kids about receiving milk. It’s a great way to offer nutritionally sound items in our weekend food bags.
For different products which allow creative milk consumption, I am grateful.
When students need help, Lord God, I pray that we respond. Thank you for providing the recourses needed to offer our Blessings weekend food program. I pray students will encourage through these food bags this week. Amen.
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