“Being part of a cooperative means cooperating -- working together to solve challenges, improve lives and livelihoods and support our communities,” says Heather Anfang, SVP, U.S. Dairy Foods. “While this has always been true of Land O’Lakes, over the past two months, that spirit has been even more evident and important.”
During this incredibly tough time, the Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods business has been working to add a little light on dark days -- through supporting our farmer-owners, our employees, our communities and our customers and consumers.
“We have a motto in the Dairy Foods business -- All Together Better -- and that has never been truer or more necessary than right now,” says Heather. “Here are just a few ways we’re working to support our communities (and one fun way you can help, too).”
The Great American Takeout Movement
In the spirit of All Together Better, this past Cinco de Mayo, we joined The Great American Takeout Movement, a movement that encourages people to order takeout from their favorite local restaurants. This helps give local restaurants a much-needed boost in business, as well as help the restaurant workers that have been displaced during this challenging time.
Land O’Lakes donated $25,000 to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which was created by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to help restaurant industry employees experiencing extraordinary hardship in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Through the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, grants will be made to restaurant industry workers who have been impacted by COVID-19, including a decrease in wages or loss of employment.
The Great American Takeout happens each week, so you can help, too, by ordering takeout from your favorite restaurant every Tuesday or by donating to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.
Feeding our neighbors
Land O’Lakes is a big advocate of the nutritional value of milk and dairy products -- so being able to get these important products to children and families in need is meaningful in so many ways. Finding new ways to work together with partners and deliver nutritional food to those who need it most in rural communities is more crucial than ever.
In partnership with Feeding America and other non-profit organizations, we have donated over 200,000 pounds of in-kind products (mac and cheese, butter, shredded cheese, sliced cheese and string cheese) to food banks since April, with more donations planned in the coming weeks. Consideration is being taken not only where our members and employees live, but also where the COVID-19 hot spots are across the U.S.
Several of these donations include:
Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria, TX) – 39,690 lbs. of mac and cheese
Open Arms of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN) – 63 lbs. of string cheese
Second Harvest Heartland (St. Paul, MN) – 13,440 lbs. of string cheese; 2,160 lbs. of butter; 1,800 lbs. of sliced cheese; 1,360 lbs. of shredded cheese
North Country Food Bank (East Grand Forks, MN) – 39,690 lbs. of mac and cheese
Feeding Westchester (Elmsford, NY) – 39,690 lbs. of mac and cheese
South Michigan Food Bank (Battle Creek, MI) – 39,690 lbs. of mac and cheese ?
Philabundance (Philadelphia, PA) -- 18,210 lbs. of mac and cheese
Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin – Fox Valley (Appleton, WI) -- 9,000 lbs. of mac and cheese; 3,000 lbs. of sliced cheddar cheese
Food Bank of Central Louisiana (Alexandria, LA) -- 18,210 lbs. of mac and cheese
Our Vermont Creamery team is also feeding neighbors in need, including caring for its community of Barre, Vermont through a donation of over 2,800 pounds of bulk product to organizations that are feeding those in need, including those who are preparing meals for community members who have lost their jobs or income due to COVID-19.
A sweet partnership
We’re also making a partnered donation with The Hershey Company and Domino Foods, Inc. to amplify impact to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
Land O’Lakes is donating 30,000 pounds of mac & cheese, as well as cheese, Domino Foods is donating sugar and Hershey’s is making a monetary donation.
“Advocating for and supporting the places that produce and deliver the food for this country has always been an important priority for Land O’Lakes. Current circumstances have only reinforced how much more needs to be done," says Morgan Kinross-Wright, VP of community relations and executive director of the Land O’Lakes Foundation. “Hershey has been a strong partner for us over the years, and we wanted to step up alongside them in one of our communities where our farmers and employees live.”
Did you know that Land O’Lakes farmer-owners supply the fluid milk that goes into the chocolate?
It’s a sweet partnership and we’re proud to be working together to meet the community’s needs.
Turning on Wi-Fi in rural communities
To help our neighbors communicate with friends and relatives, keep up with school work, and take part in other activities that are now done almost entirely online, Land O’Lakes, Inc. and several of our member retailers are making free guest Wi-Fi available in as many states as feasible.
Why is this a big deal? Because there are 18 million Americans, 14 million living in rural areas, who don’t have access to high speed internet. That means it’s nearly impossible for millions of kids to attend school online, or for certain families to access medical care online. Today, we have more than 170 facilities providing free Wi-Fi in 14 states. Read more about how we’re working with our cooperative network to help bridge the telehealth and education divide.
We’ll continue to care for farmer-owners, our employees, customers, consumers and our communities, because as a nearly 100-year-old cooperative, it’s who we are and what we do.