HARRISBURG, Pa. — With a celebratory milk toast and official bell ringing, Governor Tom Wolf, First Lady Frances Wolf, and Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding joined former NFL star, Jason Avant, dairy industry leaders, Feeding PA food bank leaders, Miss PA Kayla Repasky, Pennsylvania dairy royalty, and American Dairy Association North East (ADANE) to kick off the 2019 Fill a Glass with Hope® campaign, a charitable fresh milk distribution program at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.
“Alleviating hunger in Pennsylvania has been a personal priority for my wife Frances and I for many years. We have taken an active approach to ensuring Pennsylvanians have adequate access to the food they need, and we have made great strides over the past four years,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “I’m proud to be here today to help kick off the 5th year of the Fill a Glass with Hope program. This unique public-private partnership is a shining example of the complex collaboration that is needed in order to help tackle the hunger issue in Pennsylvania.”
Launched in 2015 in Central Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, Fill a Glass with Hope® expanded in 2016 to become the first statewide charitable fresh milk distribution program in the country. Since its inception, Fill a Glass with Hope® has provided more than 10 million servings of milk to families in need through Feeding Pennsylvania’s eight member food banks statewide. The fundraising for the 2019 campaign launched today with major donations of $136,300, including $25,000 contributions from FirstEnergy, Giant Food Stores and Weis Markets.
“With 1.6 million Pennsylvanians facing hunger, nearly half a million of whom are children, we must ensure that no child or family is denied access to nutritious food, including fresh milk, which supplies vitamins and minerals necessary for growth and learning,” said Jane Clements-Smith, Executive Director of Feeding Pennsylvania. “Milk is one of the most requested items in our charitable food network and Feeding Pennsylvania’s member food banks are extremely appreciative of our dairy farmers and business leaders for investing in this amazing program so that we can purchase milk, at a reduced price, directly from local dairy processors and distribute it to Pennsylvania families in need.”
Also joining the governor and Feeding PA was Sec. Russell Redding, who applauded the hardworking dairy farmers — who make up the largest segment of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry — and the 6,500 dairy farm families that provide for consumers, the hungry, and the state’s charitable food system.
“Fill a Glass with Hope® is a lifeline to Pennsylvania families in need and ensures that they have access to the nutrients that we know are needed to be healthy and well,” said Sec. Redding. “Although Pennsylvania is a world leader in agricultural production, too many of our neighbors are at risk of hunger. Programs like this move us closer to attaining nutrition security in the commonwealth, a goal that will require commitment and effort from all of us.”
“I am humbled to participate in this great initiative with a team of people who make it their business to feed our community every day. Just like in the NFL where it takes teamwork to become Super Bowl Champions, it takes a collaborative effort for Fill a Glass with Hope® to thrive,” said Jason Avant, former wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles. “I understand that good nutrition translates to success on and off the field, which is why it is so important to give kids access to milk, so they can grow strong and healthy.”
Dave Smith, executive director of the PA Dairymen’s Association added, “It’s a wonderful day in Pennsylvania for children and families thanks to the extraordinary commitment made and generosity given by so many leaders, the public and our dairy farm families. Feeding Pennsylvanians is a top priority of ours and Fill A Glass with Hope® has allowed us to reach the most vulnerable individuals who deserve the benefits of our delicious, nutritious world-class milk.”
Dairy Farmer Jeff Raney, from Adamsville, Pa and Chairman of the Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program echoed Smith and encouraged attendees to this year’s Farm Show to join this year’s efforts.
“Pennsylvania dairy farmers are proud of the Fill A Glass with Hope® campaign, an initiative that showcases our dedication for producing wholesome, nutritious milk, and also for ensuring it is accessible to families in our communities throughout the state,” said Raney.
After the milkshake toast, and official bell ringing to officially open the PA Farm Show Food Court, celebrities, including those from the media, joined efforts to tackle hunger as Celebrity Milkshake Servers at the PA Dairymen’s Association Milkshake Booth, to raise awareness and resources for the award-winning program. To learn more or to donate, visit www.feedingpa.org/milk.