Got Milk? Houston Area Church Gives Away Milk to Daycares and the Needy
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español
Got milk? McKinney Memorial UMC in LaMarque has plenty to share. Church volunteers are distributing free gallons of milk, donated by Borden, to daycares and families in need every Tuesday. During COVID-19, this congregation has discovered a whole new way to serve its community.
It all started when Senior Pastor Rev. Carlos Phillips was approached by Borden Dairy, with an offer the church could not refuse.
“Borden offered to give us as much milk as we could handle,” Carol Johnson, the church’s finance chair, said. “It just so happened that we had people ready to go.”
She explained that the church had been offering a mobile food pantry but had to close its operation because of COVID-19.
“We had about 20 volunteers still wanting to do something for the community,” Johnson said. “This was God sent.”
The church also had the capacity to refrigerate the milk, which was a requirement from Borden.
The dairy company was awarded a contract in May to provide 700 million servings of products for families in need through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Food Box program.
This is part of the USDA’s Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program (CFAP), which allows the purchase and distribution of about $3 billion of agricultural products, including fresh produce, dairy and meat, to families affected by the pandemic.
McKinney Memorial’s Associate Pastor Rev. Vickie Keys, also serves as Chief Administrative Officer of Food for Kids, which is part of the Child and Adult Care Food Program, created by Congress in 1968 to provide nutrition to children and working parents.
Food for Kids provides services to daycare centers and afterschool programs. Keys saw firsthand that the daycare centers were struggling to get enough milk.
She explained that daycares must provide two types of milk, twice a day, to receive federal funding for meal programs.
When stores limited the amount of milk that each person could buy, some daycare center staff would drive from one grocery to another. If they could not find the milk they needed, they would not be able to provide nourishment to the children or obtain financial reimbursement.
“It had a nutritional impact and a financial impact as well,” Keys said.
A waiver would allow the daycare centers to serve only one kind of milk, but finding any milk at all was still a burden.
When Borden made the offer to help, Keys reached out to a daycare in the community that already had a relationship with McKinney Memorial.
“They were excited,” Keys recalled. “And they gave us the names and phone numbers of other daycares to call.”
Before long, the church had a list of centers ready to get milk. “The reaction was overwhelming,” Keys said. “They were so thankful and so grateful to get anything we had to supplement or fill their needs.”
On Tuesdays, McKinney Memorial hosts its milk outreach program. Cars line up outside the church, located at 1607 Nashby in LaMarque, from noon to 2:30 p.m.
Daycares take the bulk of the donation. The rest goes to members of the congregation or the surrounding community.
Volunteers bring the milk out to the vehicles, no questions asked. Sandra Bell is among the ranks. “We have a little assembly line going,” she said. “We pretty much have it down pat.”
In the line, there are also a number of grandmothers taking care of grandchildren during the pandemic, Bell said. One woman from Galveston has seven grandchildren to feed now and said the milk is heaven sent, especially when it’s time for cereal in the morning.
“We get so many testimonials about how this milk is really helping their families,” Bell said. “They tell us, ‘You don’t realize what something like this means.”
Bell added that one daycare is short on staff and could not leave the children to get the milk. The church sends brings the milk to the school.
Another woman brings milk to low-income residents of an entire apartment complex. She comes every week to load up the donations to distribute.
Volunteers from the church also deliver milk to its seniors and shut-ins.
Since the ministry began in May, Johnson said that the church has provided 1,000 gallons of milk to the community. The congregation plans to continue the effort until September and give away a total of 2,00 gallons.
McKinney Memorial has always had a heart for outreach, Johnson explained. With Borden’s help, the congregation was still able to serve during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Even though we’re in isolation, even though the church doors are closed, we are still being the church, helping people in our community,” Johnson said.
Not only is the church providing milk, but the volunteers are also sharing hope. “That’s what God would want us to do,” Johnson said. “We may be limited in what we can do right now, but we can still do something.”
Keys agreed. The church has found innovative ways to still reach its congregation during the lockdown – through online ownership and even Bible study conference calls. Now, members can spread the word about these programs with the community, as they distribute gallons of milk.
“At this time, the church’s voice needs to be heard – and it needs to be the loudest,” Keys said. “The church is still the church. We’re still called to do ministry. It’s just up to us to find creative ways to get it done.”
Borden Dairy is still looking for interested non-profit organizations that could accept and distribute dairy products. Email email@example.com to learn about the program.
For more information, visit mckinneyumc.net. The church posts about its donations on Facebook @McKinneyMUMC.