Dairy farmers are giving away some 8,600 gallons of milk Thursday in Boston as part of a new initiative seeking to put the product to good use despite a plummeting dairy market.
The project, called Farmers Feeding Families, seeks to get surplus milk -- which would otherwise be thrown away -- into the hands of local families who need it most.
Beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, people can drive or walk up to Boston College High School, located at 150 Morrissey Blvd., and receive up to two gallons of free milk. Participants must wear face coverings during their visit.
The sponsors -- Dairy Farmers of America, Vanguard Renewables and Massachusetts-based H.P. Hood -- will also distribute milk to the Greater Boston Food Bank and other organizations that serve those in need.
The offering comes as dairy farmers nationwide struggle with a massive decline in the commercial dairy market precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic. With schools and businesses closed, demand for milk has plummeted, leaving farmers without buyers for their supply.
"For a dairy farmer, throwing away milk is like an artist throwing away a painting, or burning a painting," said John Hanselman of Vanguard Renewables, "but even though they're struggling, they know there are people who are worse off."
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The milk was being handed out by volunteers and members of the National Guard.
"Now that we're seeing more and more milk being destroyed, we needed to do something to help," Hanselman said.
Bobbie Boykin, of Dorchester, was among those who showed up to pick up some of the supply.
"I was on my way to the store to get some milk because I just ran out. I’m very grateful," he said.
Any of the milk that isn't claimed Thursday will go to area food banks, organizers said.
"The level of food insecurity has doubled or possibly even tripled depending on who does the analysis. A lot of parents rely on the free lunch program and free breakfast program that the schools provide and it becomes very, very overwhelming," State Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk said.
Officials hope the event is the first of several.