Excess milk in Manitoba is being donated to Bothwell Cheese who are in turn donating it to food banks.
David Wiens is the Chair of the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba. He also runs a dairy farm with is brother in the Grunthal area. He says the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had an effect on the dairy industry.
"We have noticed the reduced demand as a result of the food service side being more or less shut down. We are having to reduce our production because what was lost on the food service side has not all been made up on the retail side. In some parts of the country they have had to discard milk, we have not had to do that in Manitoba yet. We thought it would be an important opportunity to increase donations."
Wiens says as an organization they have been donating milk to food banks through Winnipeg Harvest for nearly 30 years. He notes they donate the milk, the transporter donates the transportation, Bothwell Cheese and Parmalat do the processing for free, and the product is then given to Winnipeg Harvest to be distributed.
Normally the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba donate around 200,000 litres of milk per year, but with the reduced demand right now, a lot of excess milk is now also being donated.
"With the onset of COVID-19, we have actually increased our donations to Winnipeg Harvest by donating another 60,000 litres of milk which is directed to Bothwell Cheese to be processed into 6,000 kilograms of cheese to be distributed to other foodbanks as well."
Wiens says as soon as they announced this addition, dairy farmers were very quick to sign up and fill the need. He notes not only is cheese a good source of protein in our diets, it also has a longer shelf life than liquid milk which makes it easier to distribute.