As the saying goes, ‘Milk, it does a body good.’ There have been many advertising campaigns throughout the years to entice consumers to buy milk on a regular basis, but for some families, …
As the saying goes, ‘Milk, it does a body good.’ There have been many advertising campaigns throughout the years to entice consumers to buy milk on a regular basis, but for some families, that is not an option. Milk is also one of the things that Hastings Family Service (HFS) does not receive a ton of donations on, primarily because they do not have a lot of room to keep milk refrigerated.
Bremer Farms has worked to fix that problem in multiple ways. First and foremost, they have held a fundraiser at their farm during the holidays called Santa on the Farm. Santa pays a visit to the Bremer’s farm one Saturday a year and the family collects donations for HFS. Those donations are then given to HFS with the suggestion of using the money for dairy products, but they are free to use the money wherever they need it most. Bremer Farms also previously applied for a grant from the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) to purchase a cooler for HFS, which was granted prior to this year.
Most recently, Janet Bremer of Bremer Farms had a unique opportunity come about to speak at a Cub Foods corporate event regarding dairy farming.
“I was invited to the Cub Foods headquarters to just talk a little bit about dairy farming. What we do on the farm, my family's involvement in the community, that type of thing. I had to go to Stillwater to the Cub Foods headquarters, because that's where the dairy department managers from around the state of Minnesota came to for a meeting. I spoke for about 20 minutes there and before I went, I did some research on the Cub Foods website because that's who invited me.”
That research led Bremer to a program that Kemps has called Giving Cow. The Bremer’s sell their milk through the DFA to Kemps, so this discovery was perfect as part of that association. The Kemps Giving Cow foundation is the philanthropic side of Kemps and the outreach model of their company purpose, “To Nourish Families.” The Kemps Giving Cow Foundation is anchored on three guiding principles for community giving: Alleviating hunger with nourishing products and distribution expertise, offering hope in local communities and good comes around.
“I saw that they had this Giving Cow program. So, after I was done giving my presentation, I was talking to the people that had invited me and I said, explain this to me, because I told them about our Santa on the farm event and I said, can we purchase the Giving Cow milk directly from you, rather than giving the money that we normally collect from Santa on the farm?”
That was all it took to get the ball rolling. The representatives that invited Bremer to speak at the Cub Foods event started digging into the request. It did not take long before Bremer had a call back.
“When she called me back, she said, ‘You can donate your money to Hastings Family Service, because we want to donate two pallets of milk.’ So, it's a win / win because now we get the two pallets of milk for family service as well as whatever we collect at Santa on the farm,” explained Bremer.
At first thought, two pallets of milk sounded like it would take up a lot of cooler space, and normally, it would, but the Giving Cow milk is different. It is ultra pasteurized milk which means they heat the milk to extremely high temperatures to kill off any bacteria that would cause the milk to spoil. It is stored in specialized cartons that lock in the nutrition while locking out air and light that could additionally affect the shelf life. Once the package is opened, it needs to be refrigerated, but as long as the seal is good, the milk can stay on shelves for at least six months and up to a year depending on the brand.
“A huge thanks needs to go out to Janet Bremer for getting the ball rolling on this,” said Amy Schaffer.
As mentioned earlier, Schaffer acknowledged the limited space that HFS has to store dairy products, so it is really difficult for the food pantry to help families in need with milk.
“White milk is one of those things that we know can be used for not only drinking, but also cooking, so that is something more of a necessity whereas chocolate milk is really only used for drinking which makes it more of a treat for so many of these families,” added Schaffer.
Adding the whole ‘shelf stable’ aspect of Giving Cow milk and it becomes a very quick ‘yes’ for food shelves that have the dry storage space. Kemps donated over 6000 half-pints to HFS, which is around 3500 pounds of milk. The donation was delivered during one of the rainy days a few weeks ago and to make matters more interesting, it was delivered by a large semi-truck after many of the volunteers went home. The semi could not get to the back of the HFS building, so the remaining HFS staff and a few volunteers unloaded the truck in the middle of Second Street in the rain. Once the milk made its way into the building, staff were able to get it displayed in the food pantry and start distributing it to families.
“It is a great surprise for the families and the kids have been really excited about the chocolate milk treat. We set it up so it is one of the first things they see when they walk in. We opened a bunch of the boxes and faced all the cows to be looking at the kids, it is really cute to see all these little cow faces staring in one direction,” laughed Schaffer.
Schaffer expects the 6000 half pints to last through the holiday season and is excited to help the families have a treat, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She said the impact on these families will be huge.
“We are busier than ever here so it will be nice when people can come here for the food they need and we have the little things to make them smile,” said Schaffer.
With the holiday season approaching and the uptick in services utilized, HFS is in need of a lot of help. They are looking for volunteers and additional donations. If you would like to help, visit www.hastingsfamilyservice.org to see where they need the help and what donations they need most.
If you are someone who enjoys running or walking, consider signing up for the annual Gobble Gait Run/Walk that is a fundraiser for HFS. The event takes place on Thanksgiving Day morning. Learn more at www.gobblegait.com.
Bremer Farms typically has their light display on from the first week in December to the first week in January. During this time, they have a collection spot for both non-perishable foods and cash donations. People are welcome to visit any time the lights are on to enjoy them free of charge. Of course, everyone is encouraged to bring a donation, but it is not required. Last year, thanks to the generosity of the visitors, Bremer Farms was able to donate around $1,000 and over 300 pounds of food to HFS.
The Santa on the Farm event is scheduled for December 9 from 5-7 p.m. at Bremer Farms. The address is 7048 150th St. E, Hastings. You can simply search Google Maps for ‘Bremer Farms Lights’ if you forget the address and do not have this story handy, or just drive west on 15th Street for a few miles out of town until you see the line of cars. Search Facebook for ‘Bremer Farms Lights’ for additional information on the event.