PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) -- A new, statewide program called "Milk for Good" is helping to put milk on the tables of families in need.
It's a partnership with the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, the Dairy Alliance, American Dairy Association North East and the Virginia Dairymen's Association.
Starting this month, seven regional food banks with the federation will each receive 200 half-gallons of milk weekly. This is includes the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.
Over the course of the six-month pilot program, more than 33,000 half-gallons will be handed out. Once at the regional locations, the milk will be distributed to smaller locations.
The pilot phase of the program received a $50,000 grant to kick it off. There was also a grant from The Dairy Alliance of $49,000 to buy and donate refrigerators to help with storage at 18 pantries throughout the Commonwealth.
For 18 years, Andrea Barnes has worked at the Prince George Food Bank. She's now the director. Many things have changed, but one thing has stayed the same - the top item on everyone's shopping wish list.
"I need milk every day in my house," Angelica, a mom of three children, said. " [They] eat cereal in the morning time."
Keeping milk at the pantry was a struggle for many years. It goes bad fast and there weren't enough places to keep it.
"We actually have to give it out as it came in, we didn't have any place to store it," Barnes added, tapping on the side of a refrigerator. "Now, we've been blessed with this."
Officials with the Virginia Federation of Food Banks say programs like this will help Virginians maintain a healthy diet.
The 2014 Hunger Study, the most comprehensive survey of food pantry clients conducted in Virginia, found that 43 percent of respondents (more than 57,000 people) said they would like access to more dairy products in their local pantries, according to the Federation of Virginia Food Banks' website.
"Families are getting more calcium more vitamin D, more vitamin A. All things that go a long way for families that are having a hard time putting food on the table," Jackie Farell, the Food Donations Manager at Feed More in Richmond, said.
An estimated 900,000 people struggle to put food on the table in Virginia, according to the Virginia Federation of Food Banks. Over 200,000 of those are children.
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