Finley loves milk. She makes sure that milk stays on the shopping list, cream cheese too. Finley enjoys milk the way some people enjoy chocolate, there is ceremony to the way that she pours it in a certain glass and tries always to have a straw involved. Her sisters aren’t fans, preferring their dairy in the form of cheese, sour cream, or yogurt. Fin is undeterred, “Is it ok if I pour myself a glass of milk, mama?”

We’ve been packing school lunches for 9 years, and two years of snacks for preschool before that. I have not, in all that time, ever packed milk. My memories of a plastic thermos and a couple of hot afternoons with the thermos forgotten in the back of our orange Volkswagen Rabbit have made it impossible for me to participate in sending in milk from home.

Milk cartons in the cafeteria? You bet!

“There are milk cartons on the table in the cafeteria that kids can take, even if they aren’t buyers,” Fin said matter of factly one day. “I think it’s good that they make it so anyone can drink milk.”

We’re trying to make connections, donating to food banks to appreciate the abundance we enjoy and visiting farms to see the animals and the people who do so much to make what we eat possible, so that as a family we can contribute to change.

As the girls are beginning to pack their own lunches and balancing the snack to vegetable ratio, they’re also considering what life is like for other people.

Finley understands that milk needs to be refrigerated, but that not everyone has refrigerators. “What if someone doesn’t have a house? How can they drink milk?” and “Did you know that some kids don’t have food on the weekend? They do a snack pack club and have food go home with them on the weekend. ”

I can’t always manage the guilt and figuring out how to even begin to help. A few years ago my sister introduced me to Heifer International and since then I have been more and more amazed by what they do.

They have been operating a program in Tanzania since 2008 (the year Finley was born) to help farmers increase milk production, an offshoot of this has been to work with the government, schools, and farmers to create new markets. School kids are a part of their work now, helping to complete the ‘cow to classroom circle.’


Image Credit: Heifer International

School kids get nutrition during the day and the future of farming gets a boost as a new generation learns to incorporate milk into their diet. For every 26.5 gallons of milk produced, four jobs are created.

Photo Credit: Heifer International

When the Heifer School Milk Feeding Program launched in July of this year, 1,742 students in the Njombe region received fresh 200ml packets of pasteurized milk. They will continue to receive the milk Monday-Friday throughout the school year. They aim to reach every pupil under 9 years of age in the Njombe, Iringa, MBeya, and Songwe regions, which would total 9,000 kids.

Kids need to focus on learning, not fighting pangs of hunger. They also really ought to learn about how easy it can be to fill someone else’s cup.

Photo Credit: Heifer International

This program is $75 per child per year. That means for 40 cents a day we can help students get at least a quarter of their daily calcium requirements while at school. We can help farmers succeed and support communities.

I’m working wth Heifer International to get the word out about the Heifer School Milk Feeding Program. Reading this post helps. Sharing it to let people know that $75 supports a student for the whole year could make a huge difference. Also, if you share this post on FB or RT on twitter, Women Online will donate $1 for each share up to $2000. Please don’t be shy with your shares, we need more positive stories and less hungry kids and struggling farmers!