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Refrigerated milk truck

Dairy West recently donated a new refrigerated truck to the Idaho Foodbank to increase the nonprofit's ability to safely store milk and other perishable food products and deliver them to food pantries throughout Idaho. Pictured from left: Girl Scouts of Silver Sage Council lead recruitment coordinator Emily Blackmer, Meridian dairy farmer Clint Jackson, Kuna dairy farmer John Wind, Gooding dairy farmer and artisan cheesemaker Steve Ballard, Idaho Foodbank president and CEO Karen Vauk, Idaho Foodbank chief development officer Morgan Wilson and Albertson's spokesperson Kathy Holland.

MERIDIAN — Idaho families struggling with hunger just got a big boost from Dairy West. The organization, which represents Idaho and Utah dairy farmers, recently donated a new refrigerated truck to the Idaho Foodbank to increase the nonprofit’s ability to safely store milk and other perishable food products and deliver them to food pantries throughout the Gem State.

Adorned with a vehicle wrap that proclaims “Feeding Families — Building Healthy Communities,” the 26-foot 2020 Kenworth T370 refrigerated truck cost $115,000 and can store roughly 1,800 gallons of fresh milk.

“Dairy proteins are so critical to a nutritious diet and there is a huge demand for milk, cheese and yogurt among those we serve,” Karen Vauk, president and CEO of the Idaho Foodbank, said in a statement. “It’s easy for people to give canned and dry goods, but the perishable nature of dairy foods makes it challenging to donate. Dairy West’s generous donation of a refrigerated truck is a game-changer for the Idaho Foodbank, our partners and the families we serve.”

Meanwhile, Albertson’s customers donated $20,866.79 to benefit the Idaho Foodbank and its clients via a Moo Bucks campaign that the retailer staged with Dairy West in June. The foodbank will use the funds to purchase and distribute dairy foods to clients and give them vouchers to redeem for milk.

“On average, people served by food banks receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year, but you need to drink 68 gallons a year to meet the FDA’s daily recommendations,” Dairy West CEO Karianne Fallow said in a statement. “One in seven Americans relies on food banks for nutritional assistance. Here at home in one of the top agricultural-producing states in the country, more than 210,000 Idahoans — including nearly 70,000 children — are food insecure.”

Fallow says Idaho dairy farm families have worked closely with local food pantries for decades to provide their food-insecure neighbors with the nourishment they desperately need. And since 1998, Dairy West and its predecessor, United Dairymen of Idaho, have supported the Idaho Foodbank with cash contributions for A Chef’s Affaire annual gala, its backpack program providing nutritious weekend meals for kids during the school year, the Cookies from the Heart partnership with the Girl Scouts of Silver Sage, Albertson’s and other efforts.

For more information, go to idahofoodbank.org or Facebook or Twitter or go to dairywest.com.

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