United Dairy Industry of Michigan Launches with Support from Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and Kroger

Allison Schmitt and Leah O’Connor Make Initial Donation, Sending Two Truckloads of Milk to Flint

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – LANSING, MICH. – MARCH 28, 2016 – The United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) today launched, an initiative to provide milk for Flint families. While Michigan communities have been very responsive in raising water donations, the Flint Pediatric Public Health Initiative suggested UDIM help direct the mission toward the long-term dietary needs of children affected by the lead crisis.

“UDIM’s goal is to bring attention to the long-term issue of providing nutrient-dense foods to Flint’s food banks,” said Sharon Toth, registered dietitian and chief executive officer of UDIM. “Many of the children affected were from food-insecure households, often not having access to nutritious foods. Although milk is the number one food requested at food banks, it’s rarely donated. Milk is especially important for these children because calcium-rich foods like dairy can help mitigate the effects of lead poisoning.”

Michigan dairy farm families and dairy processors are eager to help and have pledged to match every donation to—glass for glass—with a goal of raising 1 million glasses of milk for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, serving Flint residents.

The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan will provide logistical support and order milk as needed to assure safe, fresh milk is consistently available. UDIM is providing a $10,000 grant to assist the food bank with distribution of the perishable product from the Food Bank to local pantries.

“Milk is one of the mainstays in almost everyone’s diet. In fact, it is often requested by food bank clients but it is rarely donated.  The nutrients in milk are essential for growing children, and calcium is known to help block the absorption of lead into the body,” said William E. Kerr, president of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. “A donation such as this that we can distribute throughout Flint will have a major impact on the children suffering from lead exposure.”

Kroger is providing discounted milk pricing to ensure every dollar donated goes as far as possible to help meet the needs of the Flint community.

“This continued effort is another example of The Kroger Co. of Michigan’s dedication to helping those impacted by the Flint crisis as well as our unwavering support of Michigan’s dairy industry,” said Ken McClure, Kroger communications manager. “Our associates and dairy farm families want to help, and are committed to working with UDIM to create a steady flow of nutrient-rich milk to Flint residents in need.”

To support the launch of, world champion swimmer Allison Schmitt of Canton and Michigan State University track star and Olympic hopeful Leah O’Connor of Croswell partnered to donate almost 68,000 glasses of milk. With the UDIM match, their generous contribution will result in two truckloads of milk for Flint food banks. 

In the coming months, UDIM will recruit various organizations, athletes and others to support, helping to raise awareness of the community’s nutrition needs and keeping the cause in the spotlight. Anyone wishing to make a donation or start a community milk drive should visit


About United Dairy Industry of Michigan:
The United Dairy Industry of Michigan is the umbrella organization for the Dairy Council of Michigan and the American Dairy Association of Michigan. On behalf of Michigan’s dairy farm families, these non-profit organizations provide science-based nutrition information to, and in collaboration with, a variety of stakeholders committed to fostering a healthier society, including health professionals, educators, school nutrition directors, academia, industry, consumers and media. For more information, visit

About the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan:

Serving local families in need since 1981, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan has grown to provide over 25 million pounds of food each year through more than 415 partner agencies in 22 counties. Partner agencies consist of local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food pantries who strive to feed more than 300,000 people who struggle with hunger throughout eastern Michigan. For more information, visit

About The Kroger Co. of Michigan:

The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) is one of the world's largest grocery retailers, with fiscal 2014 sales of $108.5 billion. The Kroger Co. Family of Stores spans many states with store formats that include grocery and multi-department stores, discount, convenience stores and jewelry stores. We operate under nearly two dozen banners, all of which share the same belief in building strong local ties and brand loyalty with our customers.


# # #