Farm Food Facts

Dairy West Provides a Helping Hand Through Curds & Kindness

June 09, 2020 USFRA Episode 80
Farm Food Facts
Dairy West Provides a Helping Hand Through Curds & Kindness
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Farm Food Facts
Dairy West Provides a Helping Hand Through Curds & Kindness
Jun 09, 2020 Episode 80
USFRA

Karianne Fallow, CEO of Dairy West, discusses their innovative Curds & Kindness program that directs surplus dairy products to those in need throughout Utah and Idaho.

 

Show Notes Transcript

Karianne Fallow, CEO of Dairy West, discusses their innovative Curds & Kindness program that directs surplus dairy products to those in need throughout Utah and Idaho.

 

Phil:

Farm Food Facts. Where every farmer, every acre and every voice matter. Welcome to Farm Food Facts for today, June 10th, 2020, I'm your host, Phil Lempert. June is dairy month. And frankly, it's one of my favorite food events. Of course I'm prejudice as my grandfather was a dairy farmer. Now that's actually my dad in one of my grandfather's trucks. Yeah. But Hey, dairy is in my blood. And today we have with us Kerrianne Fallow, the CEO of Dairy West. Dairy West in Idaho's leading an effort in collaboration with processors and allied industries to feed the hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative it's called Curds and Kkindness, frankly, I wish I would have thought of that. Very clever branding. It's an unprecedented collaboration between dairy farmers, dairy companies, and local community partners. Karrieanne, tell us about how the idea came about and welcome to FarmFood Facts.

Karianne:

Well, Phil, thanks for visiting with us. We too are excited that it's student dairy month when the COVID pandemics struck and people were ordered to stay at home, we knew, and there were a significant job losses. We knew that on behalf of the dairy farmers in Idaho, in Utah, that we could do something about that. So we proceeded to identify milk that would otherwise be disposed of with processors who had some capacity in their plants to make a finished product. And after we matched those up, we knew that we could move significant amounts of milk through school feeding sites and food bank programs. So we branded the program, Curds and kindness, and we have been delivering food across the Idaho, Utah and Southern Nevada region since May 1st.

Phil:

And you know, how much food have you been distributed?

Karianne:

Uh, from May 1st to May 29th, we were able to distribute almost 750,000 pounds of dairy products. Yeah. That includes Swiss cheese, cheese curd, mozzarella, uh, butter and yogurt.

Phil:

Wow, that's fabulous. So when I, when I look at post COVID-19, um, when I, when I look at what you've created as a network that didn't exist before, what happens to it do, do we now have new relationships between dairy farmers and processors, um, and, and the end user, whether it be a school or whatever else that didn't exist before that you've really opened up a whole new channel of distribution. Because when we look at our supply chain, obviously there were some breaks in it. Um, and, and you've really filled in those breaks. Will they stay there permanently

Karianne:

Phil? We hope that Kearns and kindness only has to be a temporary program, right, for the benefit of the world. Uh, that said we have four kids. I'm really proud of what our team has done to forge new relationships with processors, with food main partners, with school, feeding administrators. That's an important part of the dairy supply chain. Um, and not only that, but we've had significant support from retailers, uh, allied industry and even organizations like mining groups and, uh, nonprofit foundations who wouldn't otherwise work with the dairy community.

Phil:

And when you mentioned retailers, um, when I look at supermarket shelves, um, early on in, in the pandemic, I would walk into a supermarket and I wouldn't see any milk, you know? And, um, you know, that, that was a bit surprising to me. I'm in California where there's a lot of dairy processing. Um, and I would talk to the managers and they would say, I w we just can't get it. You know, we know that the milk is there. Um, but you know, there there's no body to bring that tank to, to put it into cartons.

Phil:

So you've really solved that problem. And what I love about what, what this program is all about, not only are you feeding the hungry and not only are you taking milk that might've otherwise, um, been destroyed, uh, because there weren't any tanks. So you help the industry, you help the people, but again, to your point, forming these relationships and what I think is so important for whatever the food industry is, whether it's dairy, whether it's meat, whether it's produce is to really reach out behind, uh, beyond their traditional channels of the people that they normally talk to meet new people. I mean, we've gotten a bit comfortable in our food supply, which is why when the pandemic hit, we noticed all these supply chain problems.

Karianne:

Yeah. You know, in the dairy industry, we talk a lot about the need for innovation. And we often think about the innovation of new products that is certainly necessary, but innovation and new relationships, I think to your point is critical, uh, to face, um, future crises like this.

Phil:

And not only future crises, but, you know, day to day operations as retailers are changing the way they do business, um, more delivery, if you would. Um, I always talk about, um, you know, what the future of, of grocery looks like. And for me, you know, it's having cupboards and refrigerators that have scanners, you know, built around the doors. Um, the, the shelves are actually scales. So every time I take that jug of milk in and out, you know, reads that barcode, it measures how much is left, and then I'll get a popup on my phone that says, Hey, we know you never want to run out of milk. You know, you're going to run out of milk in two days, you know, should we send it to you? And I can just press a button and have it come there. And as we're seeing all these new changes, I think it's critical for dairy West and, and dairy farmers to understand what kind of changes there are going to happen at retail and how you're going to have to respond to those. But frankly, dairy needs a seat at the table. As these retailers are discussing that. And a program like Kurds and kindness really gives you a major voice and a major seat at the table, so that they want to hear what you have to say when it comes to innovation, not only with products, but with, you know, how we're going to get products to market

Karianne:

Well, that's, that's absolutely right, Phil. And I think we're all very aware now that when people are in crisis, they turn to dairy as a category, which is, you know, I think the silver lining in all of this and dairy farmers, particularly in our region in Idaho and Utah have been very progressive in fueling innovation, providing resources. In fact, our dairy farmers were the first of the table to help fund the Curds and Kindness program. They know that feeding the world was safe and nutritious food is an honorable mission for them. And they tend to step up very quickly, um, because it's such an important role to play.

Phil:

And you mentioned that during, uh, know, during being stuck at home, I'm a lot more people I know I have, you know, go to dairy, uh, because it's, it's comforting, it's nutritious, it's satisfying. It does all those things that I want to do when I'm stuck at home, uh, versus just empty calories.

Karianne:

Yep. That's right. And we're even seeing food service companies that are opening back up, tend toward dairy centric, menu items as they kind of figure out how to go back to market.

Phil:

And, and also when we look at, you know, the research that has come out over the past couple of years, um, especially as it relates to weight loss, you know, milk is, is a wonderful product to help with weight loss. Cause it is satisfying. It's not those empty calories. And one of the things that, you know, we here have talked a lot about, and I'm not trying to be trite. So, so please don't take it that way is when we all went to college, we were worried about the freshmen 15. Um, now we're worried about the COVID-19 that people are gaining weight, um, by having to stay at home. So, you know, it's a good time when, when you thinking about getting on a diet to really look at that research and see, you know, the big benefit that dairy in particular milk has for weight loss.

Karianne:

It can be very advantageous. Uh, we provide, you know, the dairy category has a lot of options for people, both dieting, and when people return to their rigorous workout schedule, um, you know, refilling the chocolate milk, hitting, uh, you know, getting a high protein yogurt, a snack or meal in periodically. Um, there's also a lot of evidence bill that, uh, that dairy is beneficial to folks, um, trying to deal with cardiovascular disease States. Uh, so the evidence is mounting, um, in, uh, in a positive way for dairy in that regard. And I would just say dairy brings a lot of people joy, cause it's like you said, delicious.

Phil:

Yeah. And also one of the things that we didn't know, uh, three months ago, and we've heard dr. Faust, the, and, and others talk about the fact that having higher levels of vitamin D if, um, and, and hopefully nobody, um, additionally is going to get COVID-19, but having higher levels of vitamin D is a great barrier to, to having serious problems with COVID-19 and what better way to get vitamin D than, than in milk and dairy products.

Karianne:

That's a great reminder, Phil. You're absolutely right. It's a, it's an essential, um, part of the dairy story.

Phil:

Well, congratulations on, on a fabulous program, uh, Karianne you and your folks have, have done. Great. And, um, let me just give you a little visual plug as well, curves in kindness. I love it. I want to it with courtesy and kindness. It's in the mail. Okay. And thanks for joining us today on Farm Food Facts.

Karianne:

Thank you Phil, great to talk with you.

Phil:

Thanks for listening to today's podcast episode. For more information on all things, food and agriculture, please visit us@usfarmersandranchers.org. Also be sure to look for us on Facebook at us farmers and ranchers or on Twitter at USF RA until next time.