September is Hunger Action Month and my family and I have been discussing how to help out in the community more. So I got to thinking about the food that we have donated before to the wonderful St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. And it dawned on me that we always give non-perishable food items. I have never once included milk in our donation. And I must admit that milk is one item that my family and I take for granted.
In honor of September being Hunger Action Month, my family and I had the opportunity to partner with St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance and Shamrock Farms. As a recipient and supporter of the Great American Milk Drive respectively, they wanted me to understand what it’s like to be missing milk from my table. You see, like most of you, my family regularly donates non-perishable items to food banks, but what about perishables like milk? It’s easy to take for granted items like milk that are regularly in our refrigerators.
We recently learned this firsthand when we received a box of items representative of a St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance Emergency Food Box. Shamrock Farms, a huge supporter of the national Great American Milk Drive initiative, invited me to help raise awareness about hunger in our nation and here in Arizona and to imagine the possibilities created when a family in need is able to receive milk as part of their emergency assistance.
I hate to admit it, but I never even thought of a milk drive before and just how important this drink/food really is for a family to have on hand.
Good ol’ milk is a family favorite at my house for so many reasons. My family likes the taste and I like how milk can make so many nutritious recipes. I also appreciate that milk is a top source for calcium, potassium and Vitamin D in the American diet and that is all critical for healthy child development. I missed not having milk over and over again as we worked with the foods that are representative of the emergency food boxes that are so kindly provided by the awesome St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance and the generous and thoughtful people and organizations who donate to the food bank.
And so the challenge began.
This is the box that we received and it contained some very useful items that I immediately pictured for several future meals for the family. The cereal box was the very first thing that I noticed and I quickly felt the absence of milk. Dry cereal for breakfast is not appetizing, although some kids may disagree! I would really want my kids to have the benefits of calcium and protein poured over that cereal with milk. The contents of the box had foods that are versatile and I loved seeing that. I also reflected on how much more I could do with the addition of milk, but since milk was absent from this assortment, we went on to see what we could create with the items on hand.
When we first arrived home, my daughter requested an after school snack. They come home so hungry after school especially when they are experiencing a growth spurt. She asked me if she could have chocolate milk, which can be an excellent post practice or game snack. Since milk didn’t come in the generous box, she decided to have some of the fruit cocktail with a glass of water. As she ate her fruit cocktail snack, I did wish that she could have a glass of milk with it to give her a more complete snack. She also ate a few of the sliced dried apples that were in the box as well. While she ate that snack, I pictured adding those apples to the Kix cereal in the morning, but then I remembered that the cereal would be without milk.
A few hours later it was already time for dinner and I was so pleased that the food box contained a big bag of spaghetti pasta and two cans of tomato sauce, one of which was a nice Garlic & Herb flavor, which would provide several dinners for a family. So I prepared our family dinner making the spaghetti with the provided can of green beans for a side veggie and the canned peaches for a fruit side dish. This worked well but we did miss washing it down with a glass of milk. As I prepared to store the leftovers, I pictured several recipes that I could have made with the addition of milk to make even more meals over the next few days. With the leftover pasta, I could add a bit of milk, pepper, Parmesan cheese and the can of chunk white chicken that came in the box to make a fettuccine type of dish. As I put away the other donated food items, I thought about how the can of potatoes could easily be made into a yummy and filling mashed potato dish with milk on hand or how the pinto beans could made into a soup, along with the can of corn with milk as an important ingredient. The apples would also be good with oatmeal and milk. The peaches would make a yummy smoothie in the morning with some milk and a few other ingredients. I just thought about how much more I could do with a gallon of milk on hand.
I decided to do this research and article after I heard about some alarming statistics. Currently nearly 1 in 3 children and 1 in 5 Arizonans live in poverty. Arizona’s hunger rates are higher than national averages and it ranks third in the country for high child food insecurity rates with 456,760 children facing hunger on a daily basis. That breaks my heart. Thankfully families are receiving some milk with donations and the incredible help of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, but due to shortages of donated milk, it’s rare for emergency food boxes to contain this important item. The good news is that we can all help!
For as little as only $5, a milk donation is made right in time for September Hunger Action Month. My family and I will each give $5 a person, for a total of $20 to go towards the cause. This cause will not only put milk on the tables of families in need, but it will also give them the opportunity to create recipes, along with giving their bodies that much needed calcium, Vitamin D and potassium. Plus my kids learn about giving, out of their own pocket, to help others.
So join us and donate to the national Great American Milk Drive initiative. Shamrock Farms will match the first 500 gallons of milk that is donated. That is awesome!
I know that my kids still look forward to a glass of cold and nutritious milk. A bowl of cereal is not complete without that important calcium providing milk. Milk is one of my main kitchen staples when I plan the weekly meals. The things we take for granted. Milk, as they say…it does a body good…and I want to help as many bodies and lives as I can by supporting the national Great American Milk Drive initiative. Join me. Let’s make a difference together.
I am proud to work with Shamrock Farms and St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance on this sponsored and very important article.