KATY (Covering Katy News)—While the school year has ended, milk and food donations made through the Milk 4 Many program continues to be both welcome and needed.
Brenda Martin, the program coordinator, said Milk 4 Many initially sought to collect unopened and unwanted milk from students for local food pantries, where they would be distributed to those in need. Long-time volunteer Lori Moss said program organizers discovered the large amount of food that was going into the trash.
“When you buy a hot lunch (at school), you don’t have a choice,” Moss said. “You have to take the milk or whatever they’re offering. It’s a part of the lunch.”
Students who do not want their food items are encouraged to place them into a cooler at the end of their lunch periods. Volunteers move those coolers from the school to a walk-in refrigerator at Katy Christian Ministries. Products are then distributed to those who need them. In some cases, Katy Christian Ministries might partner with like-minded organizations to reduce the oversupply of donated items.
Martin said the program has since expanded to include other unopened and unwanted items, though those items must be part of what the school distributes for lunch. Items brought from home are not accepted.
Milk 4 Many is a volunteer partnership program that works with six Katy schools—Cinco Ranch Junior High, Exley Elementary, Holland Elementary, Katy Elementary, Randolph Elementary, and Stephens Elementary. Martin said she and others are working to reach out to other Katy-area schools to encourage their participation.
Katy Christian Ministries tracks the donations by weight. Martin said that Randolph Elementary began participating in the program in April. The other five schools donated 13,060 lbs., or 6.5 tons, of milk and food in the first quarter of 2019.
Martin said that in 2014-15, Katy Elementary donated 5,089 containers of milk and juice.
Martin said the program has been around since 2011 yet many people are still learning about it. Meanwhile, the need for milk and other food items remains.
“It’s a dry, dry summer for the people in need and who depend on the milk,” Martin said.
Martin said seeing the program work for others touches her soul.
“It not only teaches philanthropy, but we are turning around and helping people in our immediate community,” Martin said. We have people in need, and not just children, but also the elderly. It’s giving straight back to them.”
Martin said the program also saves on landfill usage.
“It’s a great volunteer opportunity with families with young children,” Martin said. “You weigh it, put it into a carton, and then put it into the freezer. It’s just a win-win situation.”
For more information, contact Martin at 832-455-4500.