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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kroger is partnering with dairy farmers to see to it that needy families have access to fresh milk this summer.

According to a news release from the grocery giant, Kroger is expanding its Dairy Donation Program to support children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program involves a partnership between Kroger, Dairy Farmers of America and farmers across the Midwest and South. Kroger says it will donate more than 800,000 pounds of fluid milk to regional food banks and community organizations through August. Of that amount, roughly 50,000 extra gallons will be going to local food banks.

According to Kroger, fluid milk is one of the most requested, but harder to stock items at food banks. The expanded program means that milk normally sold to restaurants, schools and hotels will be donated to the food banks.

"Kroger recognizes the growing need for fresh, highly nutritious food in our community, especially for children as we go into the summer months and continue to spend more time at home during the pandemic to flatten the curve," said Erin Grant, corporate affairs manager for Kroger, in a statement. "At a time when dairy farmers have surplus raw milk, we're doubling down on our mission to reduce hunger and waste."

The announcement represents an expansion of the already-existing Dairy Donation Program, which partners with Michigan Milk Producers Association and Dairy Farmers of America to donate 54,750 gallons and 44,000 gallons respectively.

From May through August, while the expanded program is in place, Kroger's own manufacturing facility, Winchester Farms Dairy, will process the additional donated milk to benefit several food bank organizations and communities:

• Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland in Elizabethtown, Kentucky

• Dare to Care Food Bank in Louisville, Kentucky

• God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, Kentucky

"As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many closings across the country, some of America's farmers are left without buyers for their supply," said Jeff Wilkerson, site leader for Winchester Farms Dairy in Winchester, Kentucky. "Kroger's Dairy Donation Program is an invaluable resource for the industry during this crisis, helping distribute and process its surplus milk to communities who need it most."

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