Auburndale FFA to Harness Momentum From Pandemic’s Dairy Drive

Teams prep bags of dairy products to be distributed to those in line at the dairy drive. Courtesy of Mark Cournoyer.

OnFocus – When Mark Cournoyer began pitching the idea for a Dairy Drive to help dairy farmers, he didn’t think it would still be running more than a year later.

The drives have had a substantial impact on not only farmers who need to get product off the shelves and into homes, but those very homes to which the product goes..

The first drive started with a Facebook request from Cournoyer asking people to donate to support local farms and help to feed families. Cournoyer said they’ve seen donations from $2 to $10,000 and any amount has been appreciated.

When the pandemic hit, production came to a halt. Anything that was on the shelves, needed to go and instead of wasting or donating product, Cournoyer thought they could purchase the product and then donate it so that they were helping the farmers and people who need it.

Cournoyer said he’s experienced the kindness of so many people in the dairy industry first-hand through these drives.

A Nasonville Dairy employee stands by crates of Weber’s Farm Store milk that is ready to be donated. Courtesy of Mark Cournoyer.

“I can honestly say that one of the biggest things we’ve learned is that kindness spreads like butter,” Cournoyer said. “We’ve met some incredible people. We’ve worked with some incredible producers and processors. At the core of it, it’s about making sure that people have their core needs met.”

To get the drives up and running, the donations were seeded by The Auburndale FFA Alumni and Roy and Mary Fuller, who sponsored the first two weeks to supply products to families.

Now, June 5th will mark the group’s 22nd Dairy Drive since April of 2020. The drive will consist of: A brochure highlighting donors, processors and recipes, Weber’s ½ gallon chocolate milk, Weber’s ½ gallon blueberry cheesecake flavored milk, Nasonville Tomato Basil Feta and a recipe for TikTok Feta Salad, Mullins Whey Protein, Mullin’s Parmesan Cheese and Welcome Dairy Premium Cheese Sauce.

To help offset the cost of the drive, the Auburndale Community Leadership Class worked with the Auburndale FFA chapter to apply for and eventually be awarded a special $1,000 grant from the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (formally, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board).

Cournoyer said the grant was made possible by a milk hauler named Rich Miller who had a lasting impact on the dairy industry in Wisconsin.

“This grant was a direct result of Rich Miller’s generosity and inspiration to the schools and organizations that held dairy drives and will explore the future of marketing dairy products in the unique way that quarantine made us all adapt and survive, all while providing community pride in buying and supporting local products,” Cournoyer said.

The products that are included in the drives are all locally-sourced and support dairy farmers in central Wisconsin.

Volunteers get products out of crates and into bags to distribute. Courtesy of Mark Cournoyer.

“Whether it’s dairy products, dairy producers, meat products, all those things are right here in our backyard,” Cournoyer said. “We’re really blessed to have that here in central Wisconsin. We can have such high quality products that are affordable and accessible and don’t have a whole lot of mileage on them.”

In the first 21 drives, the Auburndale FFA chapter has distributed:

  • 4,200 gallons of fluid milk from Weber’s Farm Store
  • 5 tons of cheese
  • 3,000 pounds of  butter from Grassland Dairy in Greenwood
  • 3 tons of potatoes from Okray Farms in Plover
  • 800 Flavored Whey Protein packs from Mullins Dairy
  • 400 pounds of cream cheese
  • 400 pounds of sour cream
  • 6,000 premium cheese sauce pouches from Welcome Dairy in Colby
  • 1000 dozen eggs from local producers
  • 800 packages of Sweetened Dried Cranberries (Craisons)
  • 200 pounds of Fresh Cranberries
  • 1.5 tons of ground pork from Minnesota Hog farmer Boerbroom Ag Enterprises
  • 600 pounds of beef purchased from local farmers.

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News Desk
Author: News Desk