A Blessing and a Challenge
The chief supplier of food pantries in eastern Iowa and western Illinois is preparing for a huge increase in donations thanks to tariffs on US farm products. And the first will be milk, a lot of milk, that'll start arriving soon at the River Bend Food Bank in Davenport.
President and CEO Mike Miller says the government is buying food that would be sold overseas, and donating it to food banks across the country. And the problem is going to be storage.
"This is exactly the challenge - it's so much more than we normally deal with - getting it in, making sure we've cleared out as much space as possible, then getting it out just as quickly as possible so people in need get the freshest milk available."
An estimated 100 semi-truckloads of milk will be delivered to Iowa and Illinois (23 to ia. and 78 to ill.) between now and next March. And the River Bend Food Bank's share of that will be 10 per cent or 5,000 half-gallons per week.
Miller says even with 27 full and part-time employees, he won't be able to handle all that milk.
"We're pretty dependent on our volunteer groups - people have really stepped up to the plate. There've been some other foundations, some other organizations that have jumped in to say we'll help make this happen because this is a higher workload than we're used to. But we had to say "yes" because it helps hungry people in eastern Iowa and western Illinois."
He's expecting his first delivery of milk later this month, what calls "a blessing and a challenge." And in the future, government-purchased pork, vegetables, fruit, and other products will be donated to his and other food banks across the country.
The River Bend Food Bank supplies 300 food pantries in 23 Iowa and Illinois counties.