Connecticut 4-H helps get milk to those who need it

Connecticut 4-H helps get milk to those who need it

When the coronavirus pandemic struck the United States and forced school and restaurant closures, the demand for fluid milk dropped sharply. That left many dairy farmers with a surplus on their hands and few choices but to dump the excess supply.

Bill Davenport, a UConn Extension 4-H coordinator in Litchfield County, knew there had to be a better way. His solution? Operation Community Impact.

Davenport worked with the dairy industry to secure donations of excess milk and other products. Businesses pitched in by lending their refrigerated trucks and storage space. Then, Davenport got 4-H members and volunteers involved in helping distribute the dairy products, giving them a chance to help feed those in need and give a much-needed boost to dairy farmers.

After just three days of donations and deliveries, Operation Community Impact had distributed 4,320 gallons of milk and 28,000 pounds of yogurt and sour cream to more than 50 food pantries in six counties.

“I decided we need to try to get some of this milk out of the surplus to help farmers stay in business and into the hands of families who are food insecure,” Davenport said. “It makes no sense that we are dumping milk while there are people who desperately need food.”