Responding to the brutal damage dealt to the nation's food supply networks by the coronavirus pandemic, Kroger (NYSE:KR) announced today that it plans to donate 200,000 gallons of milk to food banks through August. The grocery and drugstore chain is working with its dairy cooperative partners to get surplus milk, which would otherwise end up being poured out, to people who need it.
The move comes at a time when pork plants are reopening with skeleton crews to euthanize and bury tens of thousands of pigs daily, up to 15% of berry crops may end up thrown away, and 2 million chickens will be "depopulated" and disposed of in Maryland and Delaware alone as COVID-19 disrupts food processing and distribution. Even with everything from Oregon onions being buried in ditches to up to $1 billion worth of beer potentially ending up flushed down the drain, food producers typically lack the funding to process the surplus and move it to food banks.
Dubbing its initiative the Dairy Rescue Program, Kroger will work with its dairy suppliers in both the Midwest and the American South to pasteurize, process, and bottle milk that would otherwise go to waste. The milk will be placed in half-gallon and gallon jugs and delivered to Feeding America food banks, plus other local community organizations. Kroger expects to donate 50,000 gallons per month in May, June, July, and August as part of the program.
The "rescued milk" will receive logistical transportation aid from Kroger in some areas, too. Kroger VP of manufacturing Erin Sharp noted, "Kroger recognizes the growing need for fresh, highly nutritious food in our community, especially for children as schools remain closed."