Community, Local foods, Local Resources, Product info

#MilkMonday a win-win for NEIA Food Bank, Hansen’s Dairy

By Jordan Hansen

Hansen’s Dairy has a long-standing relationship with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Now, with the help of the Farm Bureau, Fareway grocery stores, and customers like you, our partnership is about to grow.

Black Hawk County Farm Bureau board members Brad Jesse and Len Orth spearheaded an initiative to increase donations of milk to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and improve demand of dairy farmers’ products.

MilkMonday_BlackHawk_HansensThe initiative, called #MilkMonday, will begin on Monday, April 1, and run every Monday through June (National Dairy Month). Fareway grocery shoppers will have the opportunity to round up their total purchase to the nearest dollar to help provide milk to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Hansen’s Dairy shoppers can also round up their purchase, or they can decide to purchase an extra gallon that will go directly to the Food Bank.

The NEIA Food Bank is located in Waterloo, and serves as a hub for food programs and pantries in a 16-county area: Allamakee, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Delaware, Fayette, Floyd, Grundy, Hardin, Howard, Mitchell, Poweshiek, Tama and Winneshiek.

All Fareway stores in the 16-county region will be participating. Waterloo Fareway Manager Allen Weimerskirch also reported that the Fareway corporation has decided to match up to the first $2,500 raised in the initiative.

Northeast Iowa Food Bank, #MilkMonday
Representatives from Farm Bureau, Fareway, the Food Bank and I kicked off the #MilkMonday initiative on National Ag Day, March 14, 2019. The Farm Bureau gave an initial donation of $1,000, which comprised funds from Black Hawk, Winneshiek, Allamakee and Tama county Farm Bureaus.

The #MilkMonday program will allow the Food Bank to purchase more milk from our farm, which is already supplying the Food Bank with about 50,000 gallons of milk each year through a combination of sales and donations.

Our relationship with the Food Bank is mutually beneficial, and we see it as an important way to give back to our community.

First, a little background into how it all started.

You need it, we’ve got it

When cows are milked, they naturally produce what’s called “whole” milk. The fat percentage of our whole milk is about 3.5%. The milk can be run through a separator to produce two different products: skim milk, which is our biggest seller; and heavy cream, which is bottled itself and also used to make butter and ice cream. For every 10 gallons of whole milk, it will separate into 1 gallon of cream and 9 gallons of skim milk.

Hansen's Dairy, heavy cream, separator
Cream from the separator flows into the holding tank.

For several years now, the supply and demand of cream and skim coming from our farm has been a little out of balance. We need that cream to make those high-demand (yummy) products, but we’re just left with way too much skim milk than what our customers demand. Sometimes, in order to have enough cream, that skim milk would literally go down the drain.

Enter the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and Barb Prather, executive director, who just happens to live in our town.

“Milk is one of the harder items for us to keep in stock for the people we serve,” Barb said. “And it’s such an important part of daily nutrition, giving young kids as well as adults the essential vitamins and calcium they need.”

We agree. So in July 2016, we formulated a plan where the Food Bank would purchase skim milk from us at a reduced rate, and we would donate more gallons on top of that. We are at about a 3:2 ratio — for every three gallons of milk the Food Bank buys, we donate two gallons. In 2018, we donated nearly 19,000 gallons of skim milk.

skim milk, farm to fork, farm to table, Hansen's Dairy
Skim milk is bottled at Hansen’s Dairy.

This has benefited both of our organizations in several ways:

  • We avoid dumping perfectly good milk down the drain.
  • The Food Bank receives extremely fresh milk — sometimes just bottled at our farm that day — instead of getting close-to-expiration milk that may be cast off from grocery stores.
  • We get paid for most of the milk, while also donating some and taking advantage of the state of Iowa’s Farm to Food Tax Credit.
  • Our delivery team can efficiently drop a lot of milk at one location.
  • The Food Bank has distribution points to share the milk across Northeast Iowa.
Hansen's Dairy delivery truck
Delivery Manager Brent Hansen loads up crates of milk for his next route.

We salute the Farm Bureau members to spearhead this effort to benefit us dairy farmers while getting nutritious food to those who need it.

“As farmers, we have a calling to help feed people and take care of those in our communities,” said Ben Bader, Black Hawk County Farm Bureau president. “And you don’t have to be a farmer to realize being able to pull the whole community together to provide milk to families in need is part of the ‘farm strong’ spirit we all embrace.”

To help bring awareness to the event, grocery shoppers are encouraged to spread the word using #MilkMonday on social media.

Will you “round up” for the Food Bank?

UPDATE: The final tally for #MilkMonday is in — $17,115.42 was raised for the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. The amount raised was more than anyone thought possible, and we cannot thank everyone enough for their support of this wonderful cause!

Local Resources, Product info

This Christmas, buy local: Top 5 gifts from Hansen’s Dairy

There are just 12 shopping days left before Christmas. Sure, you can get food staples at our stores, but did you know we have some great gifts too? If you are looking for unique, local ideas for the Hansen’s milk lover or foodie on your list, here are our Top 5 Gifts from Hansen’s Dairy.

Left: The youngest member of the Hansen family wears a “Milk-Fed” onesie. They come in blue, yellow and pink. (He’s wearing a separate shirt underneath.) Right: The other T-shirts are for adults and children.
Insulated bags come in gold, red and purple — perfect to match your favorite state school.

5. Sport your Hansen Dairy pride all over town with a Hansen’s Insulated Bag or T-shirt. The insulated bags are great for transporting cold goods. Just keep it in your car for a space-saving cooler. (As a bonus, you could fill the bag with our dairy products before giving to the recipient.) We also have different sizes of shirts for each member of the family. All T-shirts have our logo on the back:

All adults: “Legend-Dairy” T-shirts

Ladies: “Fresh from the Farm” V-neck T-shirts

Children: “Milk-Fed” or “Moo Roo” T-shirts

Infants: “Milk-Fed” short-sleeved onesies

4. How about an All-Iowa Breakfast Basket? Include Wildwood Farms Pancake Mix from Holland; a pound of Beeler’s bacon from Lemars, or Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon from hogs raised in Iowa; a dozen eggs from Craig and Darlene Groothuis in Nashua; in a tub of Hansen’s butter; Faber’s Pure Maple Syrup from Bert; and honey from Tim Laughlin in Grundy Center.

3. Everyone loves a gift card. We can do them in any denomination. The best part? The recipient gets 10% off dairy products when they use it. So if you give that person a $30 gift card, it’s actually worth $33 in dairy products. And when those funds have run out, they can put more money on it and continue to get the discount. (Note: Make sure to purchase the card at the store where the person will be using it. The systems don’t transfer so Moo Roo has separate gift cards from the Outlet.)


2. What better way to enjoy Hansen’s milk or egg nog than in a set of Hansen’s drinking glasses? These are new this year. They are 13 oz. clear glasses with a wide base. There are four separate designs in different colors (brown, red, black, and dark green). Buy separately for $5 each or a set of four for $16.

1. A cheese basket. Most of the cheeses come from Wisconsin (except for Hansen’s famous cheese curds). You can also include a variety of other meats, candies, nuts, jams and related items. We have some premade baskets or you can choose your own items. Great snacks for holiday get-togethers. Print the custom form from the homepage of our website or pick up from Moo Roo in Waterloo, the Outlet in Cedar Falls or the farm in Hudson.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Written by Jordan Hansen

Community, Local Resources

NIFFP and Farm to School

This Friday Hansen’s hosted the annual Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership (NIFFP) meeting, and their Farm to School event. From 5 to 7 on Friday evening, local residents interested in the NIFFP and Farm to School could come for some good food, conversation, and information.

It was a really fun evening, and everyone learned something. The NIFFP folks shared information about what they’re up to.

Aaron and Neo, the local Food Corps volunteers, shared about their experiences working with kids in Waterloo. Rob and Tammy Faux, from Genuine Faux Farm in Tripoli, told us about their CSA and their farm. The folks from Cedar Falls Blue Zones were also there to get people signed up and share information about their work in the area.

The food was fantastic: Barbecue pork sliders from Pat McCready, yogurt parfaits with vanilla yogurt from Country View Dairy (yes, it’s available in our stores), and marinated veggie skewers with cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, kalamata olives, and Hansen’s cheese curds.

Local Resources

May Roundup

Welcome to the Monthly Roundup, a new feature on our blog. Every day we come across resources, events, links, blogs, etc. that we think you might also find interesting. Some might be relevant at the local or state level, some might just be interesting bits of information or other websites. So, all month long we’re going to save up our favorites and share them with you in one post. We think it’s a good idea for a few reasons –

It saves time and space to post all of them once rather than in bits and pieces.
It’s a good way to promote local producers, events, and organizations.
It’s fun to share things we’re excited about!
We hope to inspire others to get out and learn, do, enjoy, and connect.

This month we think we’ve put together a pretty fun Roundup. As always, we’d love to hear from you! If you have ideas for the Roundup in months to come, just post a comment on the blog.

1. The Iowa State Extension website has a LOT of great resources. We found out about two this week. Their Words on Wellness newsletter and the Spend Smart Eat Smart tool. Their website has information about all kinds of things including gardening and horticulture.

2. Green Iowa Americorps is putting together a Cedar Falls tour of Practical Backyards. Their website has additional information about events and contact information for the Cedar Falls contingent that works at the CEEE at UNI. The calendar feature is fantastic, and includes the gardening series at the Cedar Falls Community Garden on Wednesdays.

3. Community gardens are active in Cedar Falls and Waterloo. There are plots available and gardening classes are being offered as well.

4. Do you ever listen to National Public Radio? Well, they have a pretty great website, but one of my favorite sections is their blog “The Salt.” It covers all kinds of food-related stories, with the science angle as well.

5. The Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership is working on the latest Buy Fresh Buy Local guide. Plus, their website has great information about local foods and producers in the area.

6. GNB Bank is organizing another Taste Iowa to be held in Conrad on August 25. There will be a local food expo, live entertainment, a free omelet breakfast, kids’ nutrition and fitness activities, and a barbecue contest, among others. They have a facebook page, and the GNB Bank website has more information.

7. Trivia: Guess which political figure helped to invent soft serve ice cream? Hint – she’s not American.

8. The Pioneer Woman. Ree Drummond started out blogging about life on a ranch in Oklahoma with her husband and children. Now she has several cookbooks, a Food Network show, and a website that includes all kinds of topics from entertainment and photography to (incredibly delicious) food and notes on life.