Students raise $5,200 for dairy farmers


New England dairy farmers might find their wallets a little fuller thanks to the $5,200, raised right in UVM dining halls. 


The student-led program, Keep Local Farms was launched in November of last year when milk prices dropped and students decided to keep paying the extra 10 cents for retail milk sold by Sodexo at the University.


Dairy farmers in New England spend about $1.80 to produce a gallon of milk and they are receiving only $1.47 in return, University Communications stated.


Students purchased more than 47,000 14-ounce containers of milk at the elevated price raising more than $4,700 in the program’s first year.


With additional fundraising, Keep Local Farms raised over $5,200, according to University Communications.


Student Government Association (SGA) President Kofi Mensah and General Manager of Sodexo Melissa Zelazny presented a check to Jane Clifford, President of the New England Family Dairy Farm Cooperative, a sponser of Keep Local Farms and Diane Bothfeld, deputy secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, on Oct. 2.


“I am excited to see the work done on the Keep Local Farms project by SGA senators and students,” Mensah said. “It shows that students are aware of the hard work of the dairy industry in Vermont and the need to ensure livable wages for all involved. SGA is excited for the prospects of the initiative.”


SGA passed a bill authorizing the program in October 2009 after they surveyed 300 students and found that the majority were willing to pay the extra 10 cents, University Communications stated. 


“The Keep Local Farms Program is a model for consumers and farmers to connect and work together throughout New England,” Bothfeld said. “Consumers want to connect to the farmers that are producing their food and the Keep Local Farms program is a mechanism to make that happen.”


Sodexo is exploring creating similar programs at other New England schools where they are service providers.


Currently, a total of eight colleges and universities in New England are participating in Keep Local Farms, University Communications stated.


“We’re happy and proud that students at UVM are so committed to the Keep Local Farms program,” said Zelazny. “We anticipate an even stronger fund raising effort in this coming year.”