USDA’s Milk Purchase Spotlights Food Insecurity Issues

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week that it would buy $50 million worth of milk to distribute to food-assistance programs, which will provide some relief for dairy farmers feeling the squeeze of lower prices.

Dairy Farmers of America, the largest private company in Kansas City, hailed the move, citing benefits that extend beyond the farm. John Wilson, a senior vice president for DFA, says the contribution from USDA also will greatly benefit those struggling with hunger and malnutrition. “Hunger and poor nutrition are serious issues in this country, and we support USDA in helping to provide nutrient-rich milk for those in need,” Wilson said in a news release responding to the announcement.

The USDA’s purchase also coincides with higher ag-issue and food awareness as the Missouri State Fair gets into full swing in Sedalia. Along with food, entertainment and livestock competitions, the fair also brings philanthropic events that advance the fight against food insecurity. This week at the fair, Missouri Farmers Care hosted the Drive to Feed Kids, and FFA members from across the state worked to package 108,000 meals. Additionally, at the fair on Saturday, Missouri Farmers Care will present $140,000 to Feeding Missouri’s partner agencies.

Ashley McCarty, executive director for Missouri Farmers Care, said the Drive to Feed Kids’ efforts are only part of the solution to food insecurity; raising awareness about those issues is an equally important.

“Those efforts are to stand in the gap, and we realize they are a temporary aid to a big problem. Our effort is equal parts just raising awareness,” McCarty said. “You might not be a donor this year, but with awareness that hunger is ubiquitous in our community, all of us will feel some ownership. That ownership looks like giving to foodbanks, it looks like reaching out to a neighbor in need, it looks like having conversations about food policy to ensure that food stays affordable and abundant for the least of these in our community.”