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Free food boxes including chicken, potatoes, and milk available around northeast Wisconsin

Food Box Content.jpg
Posted at 9:38 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 15:54:04-04

Free boxes of food including chicken, potatoes, carrots, cheese, yogurt, and Lamers Dairy milk are set to be available for pickup around northeast Wisconsin through at least the end of June. The first distribution was Thursday, and similar events are set to happen every weekday (except Memorial Day) through the end of June.

Valley Cooperative Association, a food distributor in Outagamie County, won a federal contract worth more than $2 million to buy the food , pack the boxes, and transport the boxes to drop-off locations around northeast Wisconsin. It is part of the USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box Program.

“Farmers are hurting all over the country,” said Valley Cooperative Association CEO Richard Wise.

“They have excess products that they’re not really selling to the food service distribution points right now, the restaurants, so we want to help them by combining all their ingredients into a box, and getting them to people in the Valley here who are really in need of food.”

The boxes are free, and available to anyone in need.

Trucks will haul the boxes to distribution sites around northeast Wisconsin, where families can drive up and volunteers will place the food box directly into a vehicle’s trunk, Wise said.

According to Wise, each box includes:

  • Ten pounds of chicken
  • Five pounds of russet potatoes
  • Two pounds of carrots
  • One pound of cheese
  • Four, four-ounce containers of yogurt
  • One half-gallon of Lamers Dairy milk

Valley’s contract, in which food is being purchased at reduced rates, is part of $1.2 billion in Farmers to Families contracts awarded nationwide, according to the USDA.

The program helps farmers, keeps people working at Valley (they have hired more workers to help pack the boxes), and benefits families who receive the boxes, Wise said.

“Food’s coming from the farmers all over the nation, [and] those food products are going into these boxes,” Wise said.

“We’re packing those up on a daily basis, and bringing them out to the communities.” More than 2,000 boxes will be available each weekday of distribution, Wise said.

The milk (at least 60,000 half-gallon units) from Lamers Dairy is being provided at cost, according to the Eric McGuire, business manager at Lamers Dairy.

“Ideally what we’re doing, is we’re propping up the demand for the overall milk from the farms,” McGuire said of the milk’s inclusion in the boxes.

Lamers also has its own contract with the USDA’s Farmers to Families program, worth approximately $31,000, in which Lamers will provide a total of 10,000 gallon units of milk and 5,000 half-gallons to three local food programs, McGuire said. Lamers Dairy's participation in that program is also at-cost, McGuire said.

The Lamers Dairy milk that will be used in both programs would have otherwise gone to a cheese factory, McGuire said.

Now, with the milk being used in the Farmers to Families program, other farmers might be able to send their milk to the cheese factory instead, McGuire said.

“[W]hat this does for cheese production purposes, this would free up capacity and availability for some of the other farms, so not only do our farms and our seven patrons benefit from this, but it also has a community ripple effect,” McGuire said.

Food box distribution will run through at least the end of June at the below sites. No distribution will occur on Memorial Day, but will occur on all other weekdays through the end of June, Wise said.

Distribution Locations:

Brown County:
Wednesdays
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
NWTC
2740 W Mason St., Green Bay, WI

Menominee County, WI:
Fridays
1 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Fairgrounds
Fairgrounds Rd., Keshena, WI

Outagamie County:
Thursdays
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Fox Valley Technical College
1825 N Bluemound Dr., Appleton, WI

Shawano County:
Fridays
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Fairgrounds
990 E Green Bay St., Shawano, WI

Waupaca County:
Tuesdays
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Waupaca Expo Parking Lot
187 Grand Seasons Dr., Waupaca, WI

Waushara County:
Tuesdays
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
2585 Plaza Rd., Wautoma, WI (Former Shopko location)

Winnebago County:
Mondays
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Site to be determined