CLIFTON PARK -- Market 32 stores across the Capital Region are working toward bringing milk to hundreds of local children and families in need this summer.
The Fill A Glass With Hope campaign, which aims to increase the amount of milk donated to local food pantries, will be held throughout the month of June. The campaign coincides with "Dairy Month" in the United States, also in June.
Customers at all 133 Price Chopper and Market 32 stores can make donations during checkout which will go toward purchasing milk to be delivered to the food pantries, including the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. Market 32 also partners with Garelick Farms on the campaign.
Milk is one of the most requested, but one of the least donated items at food banks due to its perishable nature, food bank employees said at a kick off event for the campaign on Thursday morning in Clifton Park.
On a regular basis, food banks are only able to provide less than one gallon of milk per person each year. Once lunch and breakfast programs end with the school year, they added, it becomes much more difficult, if not impossible, for children to get milk.
Market 32 has been involved with the Fill A Glass With Hope campaign since 2015, and has delivered hundreds of thousands of gallons of milk to children in need on the East Coast. The company has committed to match up to $10,000 in donations this year.
During the campaign, donations to the "Fill a Glass with Hope" drive are tracked as they are collected in each store using a dedicated PLU number. At the end of the month-long promotion, Market 32 will cut a check representing the total amount collected by store and give it, plus the company's $10,000 match, to Garelick Farms, which will convert the dollars into half gallons and gallons and deliver them to the applicable food bank in each store’s community.
In 2018, the amount of dairy products picked up and distributed by the Food Bank of Northeaster New York increased to 3.5 million pounds
Richard Ball, commissioner of state Department of Agriculture and Markets, said the Fill A Glass With Hope campaign, which delivers nutrients to children, is the right thing to do. "Frankly, there's a lot of power in doing the right thing. And we're here to do the right thing. Hunger impacts all sorts of families," he said.
Rondi Edmonson, of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, said each year the campaign raises a significant amount of awareness to the fact that for most of the summer needy children go without food or milk.
"Milk is one of the most requested items by parents who turn to us to help provide nourishment for their families," she said.
Mona Golub, vice president of public relations at Market 32, said at the kickoff that the campaign accomplishes two goals: It reinforces the importance of milk in children's diets and emphasizes that obtaining milk is not always as easy as walking into a grocery store to purchase it.
"We believe strongly that this is a wonderful way to heighten awareness about not only the nutritive value that milk offers, but to make so many of the generous customers and teammates who come through our stores recognize that as valuable as bottles, boxes and cans of food can be at food drives throughout the year, milk has special qualities, and when kids are not in school and not able to get it on a daily basis, they need our help getting it in the off season," she said.