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Dairy West earns award for Curds + Kindness pandemic response

MERIDIAN, Idaho (KIFI) - Dairy West is among seven organizations the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy honored Monday with its 10th annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards.

Dairy West is a regional dairy promotion organization representing Idaho and Utah dairy farm families, and the award recognizes its Curds + Kindness pandemic response last year had an outstanding community impact.

"In the spring of 2020, Dairy West spearheaded the Curds + Kindness initiative to relieve COVID-19-related supply chain pressures and deliver dairy products to hungry people in communities throughout Idaho and Utah," an Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy news release about the awards program said. "The industry-wide effort matched excess milk supply with available regional processing, allowing Dairy West to purchase, at cost, and donate more than 1 million pounds of product, which helped 500,000-plus families across the region. In addition to donating products through food banks, food pantries, and schools, Dairy West shared the joy and goodness of dairy with frontline workers, people in shelters, and youth in need through community activations in June and December."

Dairy West CEO Karianne Fallow said her organization is thrilled for the recognition, and the effort was definitely a win-win for dairy farm families and people battling food insecurity.

"Dairy West is a farmer-funded promotion organization and our board of directors, which represents farmers throughout Idaho and Utah, saw a great opportunity when the pandemic struck," Fallow said. "They quickly supported the Curds + Kindness initiative because they knew it would help farmers stay in business, keep dairy processing facilities operational, and feed those who needed it most in our communities. Our relationships across the supply chain, including with farmers, were strengthened because of our creative action."

Fallow said Dairy West will remain dedicated to helping fight food insecurity.

"The impact of our Curds + Kindness initiative is a testament to the power people have when they work together to solve problems and make a difference," she said. "Dairy West will continue to employ Curds + Kindness initiatives as part of a broader hunger strategy, and its spirit of building strong communities with dairy at the center will continue to be part of our ongoing efforts. The pandemic is certainly not the only time that we will see people and communities in need, and Dairy West is committed to helping find creative ways to dispel food insecurity facing our region."

The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards recognize exceptional farms, businesses, and partnerships for their socially responsible, economically viable, and environmentally sound practices and technologies that have a broad and positive impact.

The awards are judged by an independent panel of dairy and conservation experts who consider innovation, scalability, and replicability when evaluating nominations. Among the criteria to apply for the awards is participation and good standing in the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) animal care program and agreement to participate in the FARM Environmental Stewardship online tool for determining their GHG and energy footprint. Both initiatives are part of the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment, U.S. dairy's social responsibility pledge to consumers, customers and other stakeholders.

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