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Boy, do we got milk: USDA program overwhelms area food banks

DAVENPORT, Iowa – Food pantries in eastern Iowa and western Illinois are being flooded with milk donations under a federal program to buy and distribute nearly $50 million in dairy products to compensate farmers hurt by trade tariffs.

River Bend Foodbank, which partners with food pantries in Whiteside, Lee, Carroll, Bureau and 19 other counties in the two-state region, expects to distribute about 80,000 half-gallons to food pantries across the region through March, CEO Mike Miller told the Quad-City Times.

Locally, that means the food bank will be sending slightly more that 1,000 half-gallons a month total to pantries in all four counties, Nancy Renkes, its vice president and chief partnerships officer, told Sauk Valley Media in an email.

In addition to the milk that will be sent to the pantries, the food bank will bring its mobile pantry to two locations – the Savanna Fire Station on Jan. 26, and St. Patrick Catholic Church in Dixon on March 23. If the expiration date allows, volunteers will distribute milk along with the usual offerings, Renkes said.

The spike in donations comes from a U.S. Department of Agriculture program to help dairy farmers caught in the middle of President Donald Trump’s trade disputes with Mexico, China and Canada.

Tariffs have cost American dairy farmers more than $1 billion since May.

The USDA program is helpful but challenging because milk has a limited shelf life and the food bank program lacks distribution volunteers, Miller said.

Patrons can call their local food pantries with questions about the availability of milk and other items.


The following food pantries partner with River Bend Foodbank in Davenport, Iowa. The list includes their phone numbers and food distribution schedules.

Lee County

• First Baptist Church Amboy, 24 N. Mason, 815-857-2682, from 9 a.m. to noon the first and third Saturday of the month.

• Community Food Pantry, 2001 W. Fourth St., Dixon, 815-288-4848, from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Whiteside County

• Erie Food Pantry, 9107 Moline Road, 309-659-2565, from 9 to 10 a.m. Friday.

• Fulton Thomson Food Pantry, 912 Fourth St., Fulton, 563-613-3052 (emergencies only), from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

• Morrison Food Pantry, 203 W. Knox St., 815-772-4030, from 7:45 to 9:45 a.m. Thursday.

• Prophetstown/Lyndon Food Pantry, 215 Washington St., Prophetstown, 815-537-2555 from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday.

• Sterling Salvation Army, 409 Ave. F, 815-625-1622, from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Carroll County

• Savanna Food Pantry, 926 Viaduct Road, 815-273-4332, from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday and Thursday.

• Shannon/Lanark Food Pantry, 109 E. Badger St., Shannon, 815-821-2667 or 815-266-1221, from 2 to 4 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of the month and 8 to 9:30 a.m. the third Saturday of the month.

Bureau County

• Bureau County Food Pantry, 1019 N Main St.. Princeton, 815-875-6064, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

• Hall Township Food Pantry, 500 N Terry St., Spring Valley, 815-663-2085, from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

• Walnut Community Food Pantry, 111 E Liberty St., 815-379-2494, from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday.

• Wyanet United Methodist, 112 W. Main St., 815-699-2647, from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday.

Source: River Bend Foodbank,

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