Block of cheddar cheese on cutting board bhofack2/iStock/Thinkstock
FREE CHEESE: Four truckloads of surplus milk were recently processed into cheddar cheese for needy Pennsylvania families. The state’s Agriculture Department picked up the tab.

Land O’Lakes’ milk surplus tapped to make cheese for food banks

Pennsylvania food banks will be offering 28,000 pounds of cheddar cheese to families struggling with hunger, thanks to Land O’Lakes and the state’s PASS program.

Land O'Lakes Inc. recently donated four truckloads of surplus milk to Penn Cheese in Winfield, Pa. That milk was processed into more than 28,000 pounds of cheddar cheese. The processing cost was paid for using the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System. Then it was distributed to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank of NWPA at Erie and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank for families struggling with hunger.

PASS is a state-funded program within the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's budget. It connects processors with food banks and other emergency food providers to help meet the needs of low-income Pennsylvanians. Nearly 2 million Pennsylvanians face the threat of hunger every day, notes Michael Smith, executive deputy ag secretary. Nearly a half-million are children.

Easing the milk surplus
Milk from Brandon Weary’s Maystone Acres Dairy Farm at Newville, Pa., went to the cause. And the Land O' Lakes member-owner was pleased.

So was Jon Weber, general manager of Penn Cheese. “PASS has allowed us to be reimbursed for the costs involved in processing and packaging donated product. As a processor, I'm thrilled to see milk and cheese in the Northeast help benefit people and families who need it the most.”

Since PASS was first funded in 2015, more than 3.9 million pounds of food — fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat — have been distributed to more than 585,000 low-income households. In the 2016 calendar year, 105,876 quart-equivalents of fresh, local milk were purchased from Pennsylvania dairies using the PASS program. That’s equivalent to 423,000 milk servings.

Source: Land O’Lakes

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