When you think of food banks and the types of items that are donated, you probably picture canned goods. Most of us have donated dry goods or canned foods at some point. And while those help feed hungry families, these empty shelves speak volumes about the one item they get all too seldom. Milk.
Maeghan Jones, the Executive Director of the Chattanooga Area Food Bank says it's often referred to as liquid gold.
Maeghan Jones says "Unfortunately it's a product that we rarely have in stock and are able to provide to our agencies and clients because it is perishable we don't receive it often through donation."
Most of us don't think about donating milk, because it does go bad quickly, so food banks have to rely on donations from stores or processors. But what milk they do get goes quickly, leaving a staggering shortage.
Maeghan Jones says "It's also in high demand so our retailers who donate to us generously often don't have it to give. It's expensive product for the food bank to purchase it, and we don't have the capacity to purchase it."
Which is why several groups are teaming up for the first ever great American milk drive. Through a website or even by texting, you can pledge as little as five dollars to help shore up the milk shortage.
Maeghan Jones says "You can go online to milklife.com and when you enter your zip code that tells the site that any funds contributed need to come back to the Chattanooga area Food Bank and they come back in the form of vouchers."
Without milk, many families turn to cheaper, less healthy options like soda, which can lead to everything from dental problems to obesity or worse.
So while many of us might take a glass of cold milk for granted, there are millions of families who are desperate for it, and you can help change that by donating to your local food bank.
Lisa Hamler- Fugitt, Ohio Food Banks, says "Children that don't get proper dairy and enough milk, we know that it affects their long term cognitive development. And we can't afford that.
So help the food bank make sure local families are able to keep not only food, but also milk on the table.