Wisconsin Dairy Co-Op to Donate 45,000 Pounds of Cheese to Food Banks

FILE- In this March 7, 2017, file photo, a freshly cut wheel of swiss cheese sits at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in Green Bay, Wis. The Wisconsin Legislature agreed Tuesday, May 2, to designate cheese as the official dairy product of Wisconsin, which produces more 3 billion pounds of …
AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger

A Wisconsin-based dairy cooperative is churning out and donating 45,000 pounds of cheese to local food banks in the Midwest.

The facility is turning milk that would otherwise go bad into cheese that will be donated to food banks in the Twin Cities region and throughout the Midwest, KMSP reported.

“Although we cannot control the pandemic or what’s going on today we certainly can try to do our part in contributing to make a difference and that’s what we’re doing,” said Dan Dowling, Burnett Dairy Cooperative CEO and president.

The donations come at a time when the coronavirus is forcing dairy farmers to discard thousands of gallons of milk as schools and restaurants are closing. But Dowling said he never considered discarding the milk as an option.

“We never wanted to dump our patrons’ milk,” said Dowling. “We wanted to convert it into cheese. We want to keep our operations and keep employees employed, we wanted to not impact the farmers whatsoever and that’s what we’re doing.”

The company is using the milk to churn out 45,000 pounds of mozzarella and provolone, but it anticipates the amount of cheese will grow to more than 100,000 pounds over the next few months.

The cooperative is a group effort of 120 family farms and has 300 people on its payroll.

The first charity to receive its shipment of cheese will be Twin Cities Catholic Charities, which will get its shipment on Thursday.

Another Wisconsinite bothered by the milk-dumping has also found a way to give back to the community. Rich Miller, a milk truck driver from Wisconsin battling cancer, launched a fund to give cheese curds to food pantries, KARE reported.

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