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Food pantries get unused dairy items from Golden Guernsey

Local pantry benefits, works with Hunger Task Force

Jan. 22, 2013

Sherri Tussler couldn't bear to see thousands of gallons of milk get thrown away.

Not when there are so many people in the community struggling to make ends meet.

"When it's almost $4 a gallon, it's truly a treat for lots of people to get milk," said Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee.

So when she heard from WISN12 News about the unused milk that was just sitting inside the Waukesha Golden Guernsey facility that closed unexpectedly Jan. 5, Tussler decided to take action.

With OpenGate Capital, the Los Angeles private equity firm that bought Golden Guernsey in 2011, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court a few days after it closed the facility, Tussler had to get the approval from an appointed trustee in New Jersey.

"It was challenging to get ahold of the trustee as he was more concerned about the bankruptcy," Tussler said.

After informing the trustee of Wisconsin's good Samaritan Law that absolves donors of any liability, Tussler and her team went into the Golden Guernsey facility, 2101 Delafield St., on Jan. 15 and began shipping out the dairy products to agencies around the state.

Nine semitrailer trucks were filled with milk the first day and another seven the next day.

Tussler expected there to be a total of 20 semitrailer trucks, filled with products, delivered to pantries and shelters in Brown County, Janesville, Racine, Kenosha, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Milwaukee and the Waukesha area, among others.

This included the Food Pantry of Waukesha County, located at 1301 Sentry Drive.

"We were very fortunate that we've been getting quite a bit of product," said Karen Tredwell, executive director of the Waukesha County Food Pantry.

Tredwell said the first day it received 500 gallons of milk and other Golden Guernsey dairy products (sour cream, cottage cheese, creams, butter and eggs).

She was expecting more later in the week. Tredwell said none of the products were past their expiration dates.

That's because Tussler, who spent much of her time at the Golden Guernsey facility last week, said they would not give out milk past its buy date. Beginning on Jan. 15, they were shipping out milk that had a buy date of Jan. 22.

Tussler added that they would be able to use most of the non-milk products such as yogurt and cottage cheese because the expiration dates weren't until February and March.

Tussler said one Milwaukee shelter gave away its 500 gallons of milk within two hours.

Since the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee is a partner of the Food Pantry of Waukesha County, Tredwell said she was grateful Tussler was the catalyst in retrieving the milk.

"One of the great things about the Hunger Task Force is they are a large organization and are in a better position to help other hunger relief agencies," Tredwell said. "So anytime we can partner with hunger relief agencies to expand quantity, we do.

"They are also very instrumental in helping other pantries and in this situation with the volume of the milk being so great, we were delighted the Hunger Task Force was assisting the rest of us."

And it's not lost on Tredwell that the pantry spends about $25,000 annually on milk. Even then, she said, there still isn't always enough for families.

"As you can imagine, families look for higher-priced healthy options like milk, so it's really heartening to get the milk," Tredwell said. "Milk has so many nutrients for brain development, so when we had a big enough cooler the decision was made to put milk in our budget. It's a commodity for all of our clients."

The pantry serves 6,500 clients a month and 42 percent of them are children, Tredwell said.

But while Tredwell is happy her clients are receiving milk for free, she remains saddened that 112 individuals are out of work after the abrupt closing.

"Our concern is for the loss in the community it has created," Tredwell said. "(Golden Guernsey) was an icon. People have lost jobs and they could potentially become clients of ours."

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