A Wisconsin creamery is providing free milk to community members struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sassy Cow Creamery, owned by brothers James and Robert Baerwolf, in Columbus, Wisconsin is keeping a refrigerator outside of their store fully stocked with milk and other dairy products.
The refrigerator, called the “Kindness Cooler,” is available to anyone in need of milk and will be fully stocked until the end of the pandemic.
“My three daughters got the idea after being home from school for so long,” James Baerwolf told CNN. “They had a lot of time on their hands and were looking for ways to help out the community and that’s what they came up with.”
The family introduced the Kindness Cooler at the end of March, “when things started going to pieces,” James Baerwolf said. Demand has been high, with the creamery giving away more than 400 gallons of milk a day.
Dairy farmers across the US are dumping thousands of gallons of milk every day due to a significant decrease in demand from schools, restaurants and other foodservice providers. Regulations make it illegal for these farmers to donate or sell raw milk before it is pasteurized.
However, Sassy Cow Creamery pasteurizes its milk on-site.
“The distinction is that milk on farms is raw, and not pasteurized, so most states do not allow the sale of raw milk,” James Baerwolf said. “If you’re a farm with cows and you’re milking, you’re not allowed to sell milk off your farm. Luckily we have a small dairy plant on our farm so for the past 12 years we’ve been selling our products.”
As farmers, the Baerwolf family has gotten used to dealing with situations outside of their control, including destructive weather and bad crop seasons. But, James Baerwolf said, they’ve always found a way to make due while still helping out their community.
“Growing food and feeding people is our whole life,” he said. “Farming isn’t just our job, it’s very near and dear to our hearts. As far as food shortages and people being hungry, we take that very seriously.”
Although the family wishes they could do more, for now, they said they want to make sure their community doesn’t go without milk.
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