The Michigan Dairy, operated by the Kroger Co. of Michigan, is now celebrating 50 years bringing fresh, wholesome milk to their customers. MMPA honored The Kroger Co. of Michigan with the inaugural Valued Partner Award at MMPA’s 101st Annual State Delegate Meeting on March 23. The two organizations have sustained a partnership that extends into a variety of initiatives from food security to youth development to dairy promotion. Here’s four ways the two organizations have worked together over the years.
1) Churning out 42,250 gallons of milk for people in need
The Kroger Co. of Michigan and MMPA have worked together to bring 42,250 gallons of milk to food insecure families in three separate donations. In 2016, the two organizations partnered on a milk donation initiative to support Flint, Michigan residents following the Flint Water Crisis. Dairy is one of the foods encouraged for families to mitigate lead absorption and so MMPA and Kroger worked together to bring over 24,000 gallons of 2 percent milk to families in Flint in 2016.
In conjunction with the Valued Partner award, MMPA announced the donation of 150 gallons of milk per day for one year to recognize the 50th anniversary of Kroger’s Michigan Dairy plant. Fifty of those gallons—equivalent to 18,250 gallons of milk—were made possible by processing at the Michigan Dairy. The donation was initiated over the summer to reach families at a time when schools are out for the summer and there is a greater need for milk to support childhood nutrition.
2) Sharing the stories of MMPA dairy farmers
Over the last several years, The Kroger Co. of Michigan has shown an interest in promoting agriculture and the farm to table connection to consumers. This has included television advertisements and social media promotion spotlighting MMPA farms. Further, “Pure Michigan” posters with MMPA farms are on display in Kroger stores to show consumers where the milk in their dairy cases originates.
“Through the years, Kroger has stood by our side as an organization that understands our position in the agricultural industry. At a time when consumers want to know more about where their food comes from, Kroger is on the front lines, helping communicate the honest, good work of dairy farmers,” said MMPA president Ken Nobis during the award presentation.
Most recently Kroger produced a video featuring Horning Farms to show support of local farmers. The advertisement was aired on television in the metro Detroit area and viewed over 179,000 times on Facebook.
3) Supporting youth initiatives
The MMPA and Kroger partnership extends to youth development programs. Every June 4-H’ers make the trek to Metro Detroit for the MMPA 4-H Milk Marketing Tour. MMPA staff teach the students about the milk marketing supply chain and careers in our industry. A key to the success of the program is the afternoon tour of the Michigan Dairy plant.
Kroger additionally supports other MMPA youth development program such as scholarships. Most recently, at the Michigan Livestock Expo in July, MMPA and The Kroger Co. of Michigan made a combined bid for the Supreme Champion Dairy Cow package. The fund supports dairy youth programs through educational grants and scholarships.
4) Recognizing farmer’s commitment to animal care and sustainability
As part of The Kroger Co.’s sustainability initiative, the company recognizes the steps farmers have taken in the areas of animal care and sustainability, while backing the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (F.A.R.M.) Program.
“Kroger has long been a supporter of the F.A.R.M. Program—endorsing the core elements of the Program while encouraging its continued evolution so that we continue to not only meet—but exceed—consumer expectations. Kroger’s insights and leadership in sustainability and social responsibility have and will continue to be held in the highest regard by the F.A.R.M. Program and entire dairy community,” states Emily Meredith, NMPF Chief of Staff in The Kroger Co.’s sustainability report.
Further, management staff at Kroger has worked with MMPA to better understand the work of our farms. Kroger staff have visited Reid Dairy Farm and plan to tour more farms in the future to see firsthand how members sustainably produce quality milk and care for their animals.
–Allison Stuby Miller
This article originally appeared in the September issue of the Michigan Milk Messenger.