New York City’s Newest Milkman
Homes for the Homeless Launches Milk from the Heart to Distribute Free Fresh Milk to Needy NYC Families with Goal of One Million Quarts Served in 2011
NEW YORK, Feb. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Years ago the milk truck and neighborhood milkman were a common sight but flash to 2011 and a new type of milkman is on the scene, one who gives out free fresh milk to families with children in poor neighborhoods throughout New York City through the newly launched Milk from the Heart, a project of leading social services provider Homes for the Homeless.
“We decided to see if we gave out free milk, would children with their mothers come to pick it up,” said Leonard N. Stern, a business leader and philanthropist who is underwriting the launch of Milk from the Heart with his wife Allison. “They line up around the block, in nice weather, in rainy weather, and in freezing cold weather.”
Based on Homes for the Homeless’s 25 years of experience serving homeless children and their families, the Milk from the Heart program began as a pilot project to address the fact that fresh milk is neither affordable nor readily available to many of the city’s neediest families. Most food pantries serving the poor do not offer fresh milk, and parents struggling to feed their families often, due to cost, eliminate milk from their family’s diet. In fact, the Food Bank of NYC reports that over 50% of low-income households with children reduce the quality of food they consume in order to make ends meet. Milk from the Heart is available at distribution locations in Manhattan and at select pilot locations in other boroughs.
According to Rick Naczi of the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, today’s youth are consuming three times as much soda as milk. Increased consumption of soda and other sugar sweetened beverages in the diet of teens is replacing more nutritious beverages like milk that provide essential nutrients.
Milk supplies a package of nutrients including calcium, vitamins A, D, B-12, magnesium, and protein that are important for growth and development. Milk’s role in a nutritious diet has long been established and supported by the nutrition and scientific community, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dietetic Association, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Milk from the Heart is available to all low-income families, and not just homeless families. The project has targeted New York City’s “food desert” neighborhoods: low-income areas where residents face physical and financial barriers to accessing nutritious foods. Neighborhoods classified as “food deserts” have a much higher quantity of fast food restaurants and far fewer grocery stores that sell quality produce and staples. The children in the “food desert” neighborhoods targeted by Milk from the Heart are least likely to consume an adequate amount of milk. Given that milk is one of the most economical sources of calcium and protein, Milk from the Heart provides milk directly to families so that they can take it home and make it a part of the daily nutrition of New York City’s neediest kids.
The Sterns joined Homes for the Homeless’s president and CEO, Ralph da Costa Nunez, and Rick Naczi of the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council in distributing milk to families on the Lower East Side of Manhattan Thursday morning. Families were also treated to free recipe demonstrations on healthy meals from nonprofit Nourishing NYC and received free giveaways of healthy and useful items for the family from warm hats and gloves to jump ropes, footballs, and educational nutrition materials for the kids.
Mr. Stern hopes that Milk from the Heart will prove its effectiveness and expand, both within New York City and to other cities across the country. “Children who do not have milk when they are young, not only do they suffer as they get older, but society pays a much higher price than the cost of supplying milk.”
Since 1986 Homes for the Homeless has operated four homeless family shelters serving over 530 families with 1,000 children daily. Log onto www.hfhnyc.org/MilkFromTheHeart for more information.
SOURCE Homes for the Homeless