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Local dairy farmers to provide free milk on River Campus Monday, May 11

May 7, 2020
Bolonek family pictured on their farm in Mumford, New York.The Balonek family farm, Mumford Dairy & Meat, in nearby Mumford, N.Y., is one of the main organizers of Monday's milk event. (photo provided by DFA)

On Monday, May 11, more than 4,000 gallons of milk will be made available on the University of Rochester’s River Campus, free that day to anyone who needs it.

The University is working with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County; Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a dairy cooperative owned by family farmers across the country; and local dairy farmers and DFA members, including Mike and Cassandra Balonek, owners of Mumford Dairy and Meat in Mumford, N.Y., to host a drive-thru event to distribute fresh, refrigerated milk to University community members and residents of nearby neighborhoods.

The dairy industry has been hit hard by COVID-19 because of changes in demand due to the closure of restaurants and schools. Instead of discarding of surplus milk, many co-op farmers have decided to help meet community needs through milk distribution events like this. In fact, the idea for this distribution event came from dairy farmers themselves.

“With so many in our community facing economic hardships due to COVID-19, we were looking for a way to help,” said Michael Balonek. “We reached out to our local Cornell Cooperative Extension office in Monroe County and decided the best way to serve those in need was by partnering with our cooperative, DFA, and the University of Rochester to get milk to those who needed it most in the urban Rochester communities.”

Drive-thru distribution

From 1-3 p.m. on May 11, individuals can visit River Campus’s Park Lot (Zone 3) to pick up free, half-gallons of milk. Park Lot is one of the University’s largest employee parking lots on campus and is easily accessible by entering the University’s main entrance off of Elmwood Avenue, turning right up Trustee Road, taking another right over to Park Lot, and then exiting through Genesee Valley Park. Volunteers and signage will direct vehicles to the distribution location, which is near Building 514 in Park Lot.

All drivers and passengers should remain in their vehicles and will be prompted to open their trunk to receive milk; if cars do not have a trunk, they will be asked to open their window. For the safety of volunteers and to keep the delivery process efficient, walk-ups are not allowed. Organizers hope to distribute all of the milk by 3 p.m.

Assisting with this event are staff from University Dining Services, Department of Transportation and Parking Management, University Facilities, Environmental Health & Safety, and the Department of Public Safety. Wilson Commons Student Activities will also use a portion of the donated milk to distribute through its Food Pantry process, as well as will directly distribute it to students on River Campus throughout the day on Monday.

Andrea Lista, executive director, Cornell Cooperative Extension Monroe County, says: “This community outreach exemplifies the generosity of our agriculture community. This is about people helping people. We are proud to collaborate with the Dairy Farmers of America, Mumford Dairy and Meat, and the University of Rochester in this endeavor.”

Dairy Farmers of America is a national, farmer-owned dairy cooperative focusing on quality, innovation and the future of family dairies. While supporting and serving more than 13,000 family farmers, DFA works with some of the world’s largest food companies to develop ingredients that satisfy their customers’ cravings while staying committed to social responsibility and ethical farming.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization and is part of the Cooperative Extension land grant system, a partnership between county, state, and federal governments that is administered in New York State through Cornell University. Each county’s Cooperative Extension association is independent and works to serve the needs of the county in which it is located. The mission of Cooperative Extension is to enable people to improve their lives and communities through partnerships that put experience and research knowledge to work. Extension staff and trained volunteers deliver education programs, conduct applied research, and encourage community collaborations.

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