When the COVID-19 quarantine began in March, American Dairy Association North East took the lead from our dairy farmers who rallied to help their neighbors and local communities even when times were challenging for them. We jumped into action to adapt all dairy checkoff programs to help consumers deal with nutritional and educational needs during the pandemic, while supporting our dairy farmers’ needs and requests.

Retail — Keeping Dairy Cases Well-Stocked with Milk, Cheese and Yogurt is Priority #1

Stores were met with several challenges initially that often left shelves bare including the surge for dairy products that caused consumers to stock up on essential items; stores not receiving dairy deliveries on time; and stores not having enough staff to keep the dairy cases stocked.

What did we do?
– Helped retailers stock 200,000 units of milk, cheese and yogurt in more than 1,200 stores.
– Worked directly with retailers to remove “limitâ€_x009d_ signs in response to hundreds of calls from concerned farmers and consumers regarding quantity limits on milk and dairy products.

Schools — Millions of Students Still Needed to Eat Even though Schools were Closed

When schools were closed, students and families still relied on school meals, so ADA North East drew from its well-established relationships with school nutrition directors to help them get milk and meals distributed.

What did we do?
– Provided 464 cooler bags to 35 school districts in New York, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as additional equipment like paper meal bags, plastic bags and reusable bags to transport meals for seven districts.
– Developed and sent 10 e-blasts to school foodservice workers from March to June to offer solutions and suggestions to feeding students during the pandemic.
– Prepared three e-blasts that went to more than 13,000 physical education teachers and Fuel Up to Play 60 program advisors to help encourage students to eat healthy and stay active while in quarantine.

Consumer Outreach — Keeping Dairy Top-of-Mind in Homes and in the Media

Parents suddenly needed educational and entertaining content for kids who were now home from school.

What did we do?
– Re-promoted our Virtual Farm Tour recorded videos that were viewed more than 240,000 times since March! 
– Launched the “Fun on the Farmâ€_x009d_ video series that featured daily and weekly segments of local dairy farmers and industry professionals talking about their farming practices and experiences — so far, the series has racked up more than 3 million views!

The New York and Maryland state fairs were cancelled which posed a threat to reaching tens of thousands of consumers with dairy information — and consumers clearly missed the state fairs this year! 

What did we do?

– Hosted a week’s worth virtual dairy activities in New York — including on-farm videos featuring local dairy farmers, the butter sculpture unveiling and deconstruction, and the online celebrity milkshake contests, garnering 11.6 million media impressions, including a digital billboard in Time Square in New York City!
– Conducted the annual celebrity milkshake contest online in Maryland that drew nearly 11,500 consumers votes online for the People’s Choice Award! 

Photo caption: Dairy farmer Matt Hoff was interviewed on Baltimore’s WMAR-TV.

Media and consumers specifically wanted to hear from dairy farmers during the pandemic.

What did we do?
Prepared more than 30 dairy farmers to conduct 43 national and local television, radio and print media interviews related to dairy issues and consumer concerns.

Milk Distribution Events — Putting Milk on People’s Tables Helps Families and Farmers

Photo caption: Dairy farmer Judi Whitaker was interviewed by Binghamton’s WICZ-TV.

Many families affected by the pandemic are in dire need of milk and food.

What did we do?
– Collaborated with USDA-approved vendors, dairy processors and community organizations to use Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and Nourish New York government-funded grants so the community groups can provide milk and food.
– Facilitated the distribution of 818,500 gallons of milk in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.
– Shifted focus with New York CFAP funds in September to provide 360,000 pounds of dairy foods (18,000 boxes each weighing 20 pounds)
– Helped dairy farmers organize milk and food distributions in their local communities.
– Involved dairy farmers to volunteer at milk drives and to conduct media interviews.

Sports Marketing — Provided 15,000+ High School Coaches with Nutrition Tips to Keep Student Athletes in Peak Performance 

Coaches and athletic directors continued to work with their high school athletes – virtually – to keep them in shape for the fall season.

What did we do?
– Provided more than 15,000 coaches and athletic directors with regular nutrition information that includes refueling with chocolate milk.
– Activated our Sports Nutrition Advisory Panel — a 12-member group of health professionals who serve as spokespersons for dairy — to host four webinars featuring nutrition tips for athletes who are training differently.
– Worked with a panel member to develop a fact sheet with hydration tips for athletes including post-workout chocolate milk.

To keep our dairy farmers current on checkoff programs, ADA North East sends two e-newsletters per week called the Checkoff Check-In – if you’re not receiving it, sign up at AmericanDairy.com under “For Farmers.” We also provide regular information to local and national farm press, as well as to other industry publications.