Got curds? Dairy producers spreading holiday cheer and kindness

Sid Burgos, Curds + Kindness tour manager, takes the last batch of grilled cheese sandwiches from Lissette Torres, Curds + Kindness brand ambassador, to deliver to front-line workers at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.

(Kristin Murphy, KSL)


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Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah dairy farmers and Dairy West are delivering dairy products to thousands of Utahns this week as part of the Holiday Curds + Kindness program, which provides dairy goods to individuals and families across the Beehive State.

"Dairy farmers feel the urgent need to help our neighbors, so we are getting dairy foods into the hands of those who need them most," said Dairy West senior vice president of marketing Kristi Spence. "As the pandemic continues into the holiday season, we want to share just a bit of kindness to some of those among us."

This week, the program will deliver scores of sandwiches, pizzas and dairy-filled totes to organizations in Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties.

The groups being served include the South Jordan Health Center, two rescue missions in Salt Lake City, the Geraldine E. King Women's Center, the Volunteers of America Homeless Youth Resource Center, the Moran Eye Center, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah Farmington Health Center, University of Utah South Ogden Health Center, Ogden's Lantern House, Ogden Rescue Mission and the University of Utah, according to a news release.

"What we thought for the holidays was, could we identify some of those populations at risk?" Spence said. "We're not hitting all of them, but front-line health care workers are again in extremely high demand and just facing incredible pressure to keep people healthy and keep our hospitals safe and open."

They are also focusing on youth organizations with their efforts.

"So for organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, we're putting together totes that have dairy-related items. Of course, there's milk, coupons for butter, macaroni and cheese, some hot chocolate packets," she explained. "They're all items that a kid might be able to make on their own, and it's just something that hopefully provides a little bit of relief to families this time of year."

Established in 2017, Dairy West is a regional dairy promotion organization representing dairy farmers, processors, and supply chain partners in Utah and Idaho. The Curds + Kindness program originally launched in the spring just as the coronavirus pandemic took hold and wreaked havoc all over the world.


With the Utah Food Bank reporting the need for food to Utahns nearly tripling from dispersing 2 million pounds per month to nearly 6 million pounds, we are grateful we can make this small gesture to help ease that burden.

– Kristi Spence, Dairy West senior vice president of marketing


"We were seeing kind of a two-pronged challenge. One was that there was excess milk on the market due to a variety of factors (at the time), and we were also seeing an increased number of people in our community that were hungry," Spence said. "So, we found a way in April to match milk that didn't have a home with a processing facility that had capacity to process extra milk into dairy products. Then we in turn purchased that (milk) at cost and donated it to the food bank system and distributed it through existing channels."

From late April through the end of July, they were able to donate and distribute nearly a million pounds of dairy foods into the hands of people in communities throughout Utah. They are currently in a position to be able to make a difference in the communities where these products are being produced, and this program provides one small way to help out, she said.

"This will be a very busy and gratifying week because we share dairy products with those in need," Spence said. "With the Utah Food Bank reporting the need for food to Utahns nearly tripling from dispersing 2 million pounds per month to nearly 6 million pounds, we are grateful we can make this small gesture to help ease that burden."

Lissette Torres with the Curds + Kindness campaign prepares to package a fresh grilled cheese sandwich to be distributed at the University of Utah Health Care facility in South Jordan on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020.
Lissette Torres with the Curds + Kindness campaign prepares to package a fresh grilled cheese sandwich to be distributed at the University of Utah Health Care facility in South Jordan on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. (Photo: Chris Bronson, Dairy West)

Next week, Dairy West will continue its Holiday Curds + Kindness efforts by serving thousands in southern Idaho.

"This virus has humbled us all. We launched the Curds + Kindness initiative in April to provide relief early in the pandemic, and through the incredible collaboration of the entire dairy community, we were able to donate nearly one million pounds of dairy foods," said Dairy West chief executive officer Karianne Fallow.

"We are proud to be back in our communities this holiday season knowing that when we work together, we come together as a dairy industry and as a community, when we help each other, we can make a difference," she said. "But it doesn't stop there. We are constantly discussing solutions to help us all, and since agriculture, including dairy farming, is at the core of our region, we will continue to create ways to provide relief through this crisis."

Photos

Jasen Lee

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