STORRS, Conn. — UConn 4-H, the youth development program of Extension in the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources has moved 78,894 pounds of dairy products to date – the equivalent of six full-size elephants – during Operation Community Impact. 4-H members and volunteers are working with community partners and the UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Deliveries of dairy products were made to 96 food pantries in 57 towns statewide. The effort has involved 88 Extension families that donated their time to help unload and deliver the dairy products.
The most recent donation, 33 pallets of ice cream, was received last week from H.P. Hood in Suffield. “We are glad to partner with a wonderful organization such as 4-H and UConn Extension to provide assistance to local Connecticut communities when we can,” says Megan Uricchio of H.P. Hood, and an alumni of UConn 4-H Hartford County.
Milk donations were received from Dairy Farmers of America through their local facility, Guida’s Dairy. Agri-Mark Cooperative and Cabot Creamery donated yogurt and sour cream. All of these products were previously distributed to facilities statewide. Fluid milk donations totaled 8,640 gallons – that is more than the amount needed to fill an 18-foot round swimming pool.
The Freshplace food pantry in Hartford County stated: “Our Freshplace food pantry serves 100 individuals and families in the North end of Hartford – the poorest neighborhoods in Hartford. Most of our participants do not have access to a grocery store and depend on small bodegas that have a very limited supply of dairy products, fresh veggies, etc. This has become a much larger problem due to the current COVID situation. The delivery of the generous donation of milk will help not only our Freshplace participants but many of our other clients who are having a very hard time obtaining food. We have expanded our Freshplace services beyond our Freshplace members to encompass all Chrysalis Center clients in need of food. The milk is an incredible addition to our daily deliveries! Thanks so much – this definitely shows that we are all in this together!”
A Fairfield County food pantry that serves 115 families said, “The families that our pantry serves are in significant crisis right now. They are relying on the food pantry for all of their food/meals. Typically, we are very limited in the amounts of dairy products we are able to receive and distribute. The milk, yogurt and sour cream has been a blessing – and has made a real impact. Families are now able to add this to their meals, providing a more balanced, nutritional meal and promoting overall health and well-being. THANK YOU!”
Community service is a key component of the 4-H civic engagement mission. This project provides UConn 4-H members the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of consumers and dairy producers. Operation Community Impact would not be possible without the efforts of many community partners, volunteers, food pantries and businesses statewide that the project is serving. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to everyone helping to connect those in need with the milk and dairy donations. We created this short video to thank our dairy donors: https://bit.ly/
UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, citizenship and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living. Learn more and enroll your child in the UConn 4-H program at http://4-H.uconn.edu/.
–Stacey Stearns, UConn Extension