Join ODNC and Food Hero with Food Hero’s Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge this spring. 38,000 free seed packets, donated by Bi-Mart, will be distributed by Food Hero to Oregon state residents as part of the program which aims to inspire kids to grow their own gardensand eat a healthy diet.
You can register to pick up a seed kit with Food Hero while supplies last. The seed packets will be available in 4 different seed kits: cool-weather vegetables, warm-weather vegetables, herb or edible flowers and flowers that attract pollinators, like bees and birds. Or you can join in with your own seeds, says Halie Cousineau, OSU Extension Food Hero state garden education coordinator.
The Food Hero Facebook page will hold weekly office hours when gardeners can ask questions, post photos and share their accomplishments, Cousineau said. Once they harvest their produce, gardeners can find more than 300 recipes using vegetables and fruits on the Food Hero website.
Children are a big part of the program. Beginning April 1, digital lessons will be released every Thursday through June 10 when school ends. The lineup includes Growing Healthy Kids with OSU Master Gardeners and a four-week lesson plan in partnership with the Oregon Bee Project. Kids will learn about how bees help make healthy food and how to identify several of Oregon’s bees.
Kids can upcycle their yogurt or milk containers and use sleeves provided by ODNC to help track the care and progress of their plants. Download yours here!
Throughout summer and into fall, participants will receive a monthly Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge email with gardening information, harvest recipes and storage tips. Challenge information will also be available in English and Spanish on the Food Hero gardening page. For more personalized interaction, participants can email challenge leaders or email or call the Master Gardeners in their area.
“We’re trying to make the program accessible to anyone, children, elders, people with special needs and the diversity of cultural populations in Oregon,” said Cousineau. “We’re encouraging people anywhere to join. We want to make a community.”
In Oregon, there are more than half a million people who do not get enough to eat, and more than 194,000 of them are children. An estimated 1 in 6 kids nationally lived with food insecurity heading into the pandemic, and now it is expected to be closer to 1 in 4 as more households are struggling with declining income or unemployment.
In partnership with GENYOUth, a national nonprofit that creates healthier school communities, Safeway and Albertsons and other contributors are funding grants to supply much-needed resources for meal distribution and delivery. Nationally, more than $10 million has been deployed in emergency funding supporting more than 8,600 schools.
From soft-sided coolers, bags and containers for individual servings, to protective gear for food service sanitation and safety, this equipment will ensure that children continue to receive the nutritious meals they need.
“Our meal program has provided nearly 200,000 meals free of charge to the children in our community over the last 6 months,” said Alex Singer, Nutrition Services Director for Central School District in Independence/Monmouth. “The support from Safeway and Albertsons has shown how communities can rise up and come together to support the needs of children.”
Through donations at the cash register, the Nourishing Neighbors program raises awareness, engages volunteers and raises funds to support innovative and effective programs throughout the country. The program ensures every child in America has access to nutritious food. It is part of the Albertsons Companies Foundation, which has invested over $1 billion in communities nationwide since 2001.
“I truly hope our customers know that when they say yes at the PIN pad, they are helping children in their very neighborhood receive immediate and much needed hunger relief,” said Gineal Davidson, President, Portland Division of Safeway Albertsons.
You could say that 2020 has been quite a year with the triple challenge of Covid-19, wildfires and food insecurity for communities across Oregon. Following in the tradition of giving thanks, we’re highlighting people and organizations in the dairy community who have given generously to make a positive difference this year. Join us in saying #Thanks4Giving to these community heroes.
Thanks4 Helping Schools in Need // This year hunger impacted many communities throughout Oregon. We’d like to say #Thanks4Giving to Safeway/Albertsons and GENYOUth whose “Help Feed Families During the Crisis” campaign generated $450,000 in emergency grant funding for Oregon schools to aid them in distributing free, nutritious meals to children during the school year.
“The support from Safeway and Albertsons has shown how communities can rise up and come together to support the needs of children.” said Alex Singer, Nutrition Services Director for Central School District in Independence/Monmouth.
Thanks4 Clearing the Air // We’re also thankful for Darlene Sichley of Abiqua Acres, who cared for her community during the recent wildfires by procuring 72 much-needed air filters to help clear unhealthy smoke from their homes so that her neighbors could breathe more easily.
“We may have had some difficulties, but the power of the community of helpers is greater than the fear and is the brightest light of hope,” said Darlene in a recent issue of Cowsmopolitan.
Thanks4 Helping Communities with Hunger // Incredible generosity makes for an incredible community. When Sarah Marcus of Briar Rose Creamery heard about hunger in her community, she donated over 250 lbs of their delicious, handcrafted Fromage Blanc cheese to the YCAP Food Bank.
Thanks4 Community Teamwork // And thanks to the team at Rickreall Dairy, who decided to pay things forward on their farm’s 30th anniversary by giving away over 400 bags of groceries, including fresh milk and meat from their farm, to their community.
“We just pray that this random act of kindness will give everyone the hope they need as we all struggle through these crazy times,” said Rickreall owner, Louie Kazemier.
Thanks4 Caring for First Responders // Oregon has no shortage of farmers who want to give back. Derrick Josi, of TDF Honest Farming in Tillamook, called on his 400,000+ Facebook followers to support their local first responders during the wildfires earlier this year. His call to action resulted in a Tillamook coffee shop receiving over $1,000 to cover breakfasts for firefighters working to save homes and dairy farms threatened by the Pike Fire.
On behalf of the Oregon dairy community, we’re thankful for you! When you buydelicious dairy products, you support local dairy families, communities and businesses throughout the state. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!
After stay-at-home orders cancelled Louie Kazemier’s plans to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his dairy farm with an open-house party, he decided to shift gears and help out the community instead.
“My family still wanted to do something to serve the community in a different way,” said Kazemier, owner of Rickreall Dairy in Rickreall, Oregon. “So, we gathered our resources and came up with an idea to ‘pay it forward’ to the community that has supported us for 30 years.”
The family decided to do a food giveaway. “With so many families out of work right now, we understood that food insecurity is also increasing,” said Kazemier’s daughter, Stacy Foster. “We weren’t sure if a few pounds of ground beef and milk would really make much of a difference, but we wanted to try just the same.”
They were shocked by the positive response from the community. “We posted information about the event on the dairy’s Facebook page, and within a few days the post had been shared over 700 times,” said Foster. “We had no idea it would get that kind of response.”
“People have been so supportive and encouraging,” said Kazemier. “It has been a great reminder that we are loved and supported in our little town.”
The day of the event brought people out in large numbers. “We started to panic when cars were lining up at 12:30,” said Foster. The event didn’t officially start until 2:00, and yet people chose to drive in and wait in their vehicles. At 1:45 there were approximately 80 vehicles lined up to receive food. “We started to question if we would have enough, and if we were going to be giving enough to each family,” she said.
Every car received four pounds of ground beef donated by Rickreall Dairy, two half-gallons of milk and four 14-ounce containers of chocolate milk donated by the dairy’s processor, Darigold, and a bag of potatoes donated by Farmers and FFA Fighting Hunger in Oregon.
In the end, giving back to the community felt much more meaningful than a party, said Kazemier as he watched his family and employees pull together to help the community. “My family has always been pretty close, but anytime we can all work together on a project like this it brings out the best in all of us, ” he said.
“We served approximately 430 families in our community,” said Kazemier. The food was gone by 3:45. “It was tough to have to turn people away. We learned that the need in our community is immense,” he said.
The dairy community as a whole has understood that hunger in the U.S. is going to be a serious problem until people are able to go back to work. That’s why dairy farmers and processors across the nation are increasing their donations to food banks and school meal programs to help people in need of nourishment. Many, like Rickreall Dairy, are quietly making contributions without seeking recognition or accolades.“We just pray that this random act of kindness will give everyone the hope they need as we all struggle through these crazy times,” said Kazemier.
Stacy Foster, who is quoted in this story, serves as the Industry Relations and Communications Manager for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council.
What does a popular pizza chain and a local dairy have in common? A lot more than just cheese. Both are part of a strong partnership that benefits farmers, local franchisees and their communities.
Recently, Jake Fraizer of Dallas, Oregon, was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council for his exemplary contributions to the dairy industry and his local community.
Jake Fraizer has only had one job in his life. “I started delivering pizzas when I was 18, and worked my way up,” he said. Now 17 years later, he’s part owner in a successful Domino’s pizza store in Dallas, Oregon. “I love it,” he said. “I still love delivering. No one is ever mad to see the pizza guy.”
In 2019, Domino’s was named the top pizza chain based on annual sales, but that has not always been the case. In a 2009, in a survey of consumer taste preferences among national pizza chains, Domino’s tied for last place. That same year Domino’s announced plans to entirely reinvent its pizza with a unique ad campaign where consumers were filmed criticizing the pizza quality, and chefs were shown developing a new pizza. The dairy checkoff organization, Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) committed to address this situation with Domino’s because about 25 percent of all U.S. cheese ends up on a pizza.
“During the past ten years, we have invested in partnerships with influential quick service restaurant companies,” said Marilyn Hershey, board member for DMI. “That investment includes providing these partners with consumer insights, product development and nutrition expertise to develop new menu choices that include dairy, and that in turn find new markets for farmer’s milk. “Our four key partners, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut have moved more than 2 billion equivalent pounds of milk in the duration of our work together.”
“Domino’s is one of these partnerships that feels more like family than partner,” said Hershey. “They love our partnership, they love dairy farmers, and they love our cheese.”
“It’s nice for me to let customers know that the cheese is actually from a farm,” said Fraizer. “Everybody thinks all fast food is fake, and it’s not. So that’s a big part of it, especially when it comes to dairy. I’d rather have all of our ingredients locally, like in the US, instead of getting shipped around, so I like the dairy partnerships.”
But this small town Domino’s and a local dairy have more in common than just cheese.
“When we are harvesting the crops, my guys put in long hours. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to offer them a warm meal as a thank you,” said Louie Kazemier, Owner of Rickreall Dairy, located just outside of Dallas, Oregon.
Even though the farm is technically out of Fraizer’s service radius, he will still deliver to Rickreall Dairy. “We deliver out to the dairy a lot,” said Fraizer. “Louie does so much for the community I don’t mind.”
And, Fraizer often goes above and beyond. One year, after a particularly difficult harvest, Fraizer didn’t charge anything for the pizzas. “I’m still not sure if he could see the exhaustion on my face or was just feeling generous, but either way it was really nice,” said Kazemier.
The appreciation is mutual. “He does so much for Christmas Cheer, and the community. And Christmas Cheer means a lot to me,” said Fraizer.
Christmas Cheer, a nonprofit organization in Dallas, feeds families in need over the holidays. Fraizer and his wife joined the board of directors four years ago. “I think every kid should see how lucky they are that they have food,” said Fraizer. “That was ingrained in me, especially by my dad.”
Christmas Cheer does various canned food drives throughout the year, but the perishable items like meat and dairy products, are more difficult to obtain. Kazemier’s donation of ground beef and milk helped to feed 500 families this past Christmas. “Anything perishable like meat or milk or cheese is so expensive that getting a donation is massive,” says Fraizer.
Fraizer’s donation of time and effort is an easy decision. “I grew up in this town, I think it’s kind of selfish if I don’t [give back],” he said. “I also like that it’s local. I know exactly where the money is going”.
Kazemier shares Fraizer’s sentiments on giving back. “I’ve been blessed and I want to bless others,” he said.
Their lives barely ever intersect, except when pizza is delivered, but this dairy farm owner and franchisee partner together to not only make a high quality product for their customers, but also in giving back to their community.
It’s a dream come true for fans of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and it’s bigger and better than ever in 2020.
There’s a popular month-long event called “The Melt Down,” where sales of signature grilled cheese sandwiches throughout February support YCAP regional food bank efforts to fight hunger. This year’s “Deluxe Edition” includes 68 participating restaurants and businesses in Yamhill County and 13 sponsors. The restaurants are in a friendly competition for the title of the “Biggest Cheese.”
Each restaurant has their own unique take on the classic grilled cheese sandwich, many with clever names to match. Some examples include: Diet Starts Tomorrow, The Triple Texan, Play with your Food, Ooey Gooey Tomato Grilled Cheesy and Check Yo Self Before You Raclette Yo Self. While there are options for the strict grilled cheese purists, some other ingredients include peanut butter, jalapeños, pineapple, pesto, potatoes, marinara, brisket, avocado and quince chutney.
But how to decide with so many options to choose from? Easy. There’s a passport with details on the sandwiches available at each stop, including their address and business hours. Those who show their passports get stamps or signatures to make them eligible to win prizes donated by 40 area businesses.
Local restaurants in the community are also winners since the event generates increased business thanks to The Melt Down. “It is hard to believe that a small idea just a few years ago has grown into such a successful fundraiser and has provided a much needed economic boost to so many businesses here in Yamhill County,” said YCAP Development Specialist Diane Longaker.
In 2019, more than 6,280 sandwiches were sold, raising approximately $20,000. That equals more than 65,000 meals for the people served by YCAP and its food bank. Oregon dairy farmers and processors including Tillamook and Organic Valley are supporting The Melt Down: Deluxe Edition with hopes for record-setting results. You can help by ordering a grilled cheese from participating restaurants through February 29.
When Louie Kazemier of Rickreall Dairy is looking to make an improvement on his farm, he prefers to do so with his eyes wide open. In the world of dairy, that means checking with others in the dairy industry – others who aren’t hesitant about sharing.
“I put all new stalls and stanchions in the barns,” Kazemier said recently, “and before we did that, I visited several dairies with my manager and looked at how they were doing it. And those particular dairymen spent several hours with us answering questions.”
Sharing information, it turns out, is nothing new in an industry that Kazemier describes as “a tight community.” It is a community with a diversity of dairies large and small, organic and conventional, traditional and technologically advanced. Regardless of the size or type, all benefit from collaborative “knowledge transfer” and sharing best practices.
Kazemier said he regularly opens his doors to dairymen, many of whom stop to tour the farm, which is situated on a major Oregon highway.
“We take quite a bit of time to show people around and answer questions,” Kazemier said.
The same can be said of Threemile Canyon Farms, where visits from dairymen are common, according to Dairy Operations Manager Jeff Wendler.
“Probably three to four dairy guys come through in an average month,” Wendler said. “Then we have some other large dairymen in the Midwest, and we’ll go visit their operations to see what they are doing.”
“We are willing to share what we do,” said Threemile General Manager Marty Myers. “It is pretty transparent.”
At Dairylain Farms in Vale, Ore., Warren Chamberlain said he, too, has an open-door policy. Dairylain uses robotics and solar panels in their operation.
“We have a lot of dairymen come out and tour the farm, and we share everything,” Chamberlain said.
The practice is reciprocal, he said.
“I have even gone on road trips and saw a dairy and stopped in there and once they realize I am a dairyman, they pretty much open up and tell me what and how they do things in that area,” Chamberlain said.
At Threemile, Myers said many dairies are interested in the farm’s animal welfare program, and in how the farm handles employee relations.
“We have had folks reach out to us and say, ‘Rather than reinvent the wheel, can you share what you are doing?’” Myers said.
“There are certain things like animal welfare practices that we employ that benefit the entire industry, and that we are happy to share,” said Threemile’s Wendler.
“Dairy is its own family,” Dairylain’s Chamberlain said. “We all have the same issues, and I think we are all pretty willing to help each other figure out what we do that works and how we got there.”
Since 1937, June has been designated as a special month to celebrate milk and all things dairy. National Dairy Month is an annual tradition that recognizes the contributions the dairy industry has made to health and happiness around the world.
Oregon has a lot to celebrate, and what better way to kick things off than World Milk Day? After all, milk is Oregon’s official state beverage. On every day of June, we served up some cheesy, dairy-themed jokeson social media. As an example, this was one of the crowd favorites: Why was the dairy farmer the slowest player on the baseball field? You’d be slow too if your jersey weighed 1,000 pounds!
There were several dairy events and observances throughout the month as well. Cloverdale dairy farmer Ron Hurliman served as Grand Marshal of the June Dairy Parade in Tillamook. With more than 120 entries, the parade is a centerpiece of the June Dairy Festival alongside the Tillamook County YMCA Milk Run and the Tillamook County Rodeo. You can read all about the festivities in this special insert from the Tillamook Headlight Herald.Capital Press also had this special section for June Dairy Monthwith several great stories.
We sponsored the Milk Carton Boat Race in partnership with the Royal Rosarians, the Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassadors, Darigold and many others. A Rose Festival tradition since 1973, the family-friendly event features kids, adults and teams racing across a pond on boats that float atop empty milk cartons and milk jugs. KGW television’s Drew Carney highlighted the event on his Sunrise showand KATU’s Katherine Kisiel was an event announcer.
At the national level, a running theme throughout the month involved dairy’s contributions to fighting food insecurity and child hunger. The “Real Love Convoy” brought Undeniably Dairy branded trucks to New York, Washington D.C., Detroit and Cleveland for media opportunities and public events featuring dairy. This included an appearance with spokeswoman Laila Ali and dairy farmer Katie Dotterer-Pyle on Good Morning America. Locally, we helped promote summer meals programs in Oregon with this special video featuring Oregon’s Fuel Up to Play 60 spokesperson Anthony Newman.
While National Dairy Month may be over, we’ll continue to celebrate dairy year round. Oh, and did we mention that July is National Ice Cream Month? Stay tuned for a fun announcement on National Ice Cream Day (July 21)!
Will it float? That question typically gets an immediate answer at the Milk Carton Boat Race when kids, adults and entire teams of people climb onto handmade boats whose buoyancy depends entirely upon recycled milk jugs and cartons. Surprisingly, most of them not only float but prove to be stable and swift.
Royal Rosarians’ Milk Carton Boat Race A Portland Rose Festival tradition since 1973 Sunday, June 23; 11 a.m. Westmoreland Park Casting Pond, SE McLoughlin BlvdandBybee Blvd Cost: FREE!
“There’s a tried and true formula — a one gallon jug supports eight pounds and a half-gallon supports four pounds,” said Josh Thomas, Senior Director of Communications for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “It’s splish splash if you don’t do the math.”
The event is 100% free to attend and compete, and there are awards for speed and originality. While time is getting short to build a boat, it isn’t too late to enter and compete.
“I have even seen people finishing their boats on the morning of the event,” said Thomas. He suggests collecting jugs and cartons from local coffee shops, restaurants, cafeterias, friends and family – and stocking up on duct tape.
While creativity is certainly encouraged, there are rules on size and all boats must be human-powered. Participants who choose not to keep their boats for future years will be encouraged to dismantle and recycle them at their home. For the race categories, rules and registration, visit the official Royal Rosarians’ Milk Carton Boat Race event page today.
The Milk Carton Boat Race is produced by the Royal Rosarians and presented by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council.
It’s a staple of American households and often tops the grocery list, but for many low-income families, having milk in the refrigerator can be a rarity. According to the Great American Milk Drive, people served by food banks receive less than one gallon per person per year on average. In Oregon, that statistic is changing.
Thanks to an influx of milk provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Oregon Food Bank network has been distributing nutritious skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk every week to local families and individuals. So far, this has totaled nearly 160,000 gallons.
While it is great news, this did pose some challenges due to perishability, refrigeration capacity and logistics. In what they described as ‘a flurry of activity,’ Oregon Food Bank staff welcomed the distribution challenge and overcame stumbling blocks in coordination with Oregon’s 20 regional food banks to get the product in and out to communities as quickly as possible.
“This is a highly valuable and needed product across our region, and we’ve gotten really strong support from our partners in adjusting systems and processes that allow us to accept incredibly high volumes of milk,” said Gretchen Miller, Sourcing and Operations Strategist for Oregon Food Bank. “It’s more than we ever have in the past. What we’re happiest about is that we’re able to get fresh, high quality milk into the food insecure communities we serve.”
This milk provides a temporary supply to meet ongoing demand, and there are still long term needs to be addressed when it comes to fighting hunger in Oregon. You can help make a difference by contributing to the Oregon Food Bankand/or the Great American Milk Drive.