When most people donate to their local food bank or food pantry, going to the canned-goods cupboard is almost an automatic response.
But these organizations need much more than nonperishables. They also accept fresh produce and a commodity that most people don't think of — milk.
"Milk is one of the most requested products at food banks," says Althea Zanecosky, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the Philadelphia-based Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association. "They have the refrigerators, but a lot of times there's just no milk in them."
The organization and others across the country are working with nonprofit Feeding America for the Great American Milk Drive. A $5 donation at www.milklife.com/give provides a gallon of milk from a local participating dairy to a participating food bank near your zip code through next April.
"Most people don't donate milk because it's a hard thing to give," says Zanecosky. "This drive allows you to go online, donate and the work is done for you.
"When you look at the number of children who are food-insecure and in a difficult situation, their need for a high-quality protein is vital. At 25 cents per glass, milk is cost-effective way to get that to them."
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank serves 325,520 people suffering from food insecurity, according to Feeding America. Food insecurity touches about 1.8 million Pennsylvanians. As this issue was going to press, nearly 2,000 gallons of milk had been donated statewide.