A Culture of Collaboration

How Gleaners Teams Delivered 415,000 Gallons of Milk Across Our Region

UPDATE: This article was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the state of emergency, Gleaners continues to deliver fresh milk and other nutritious food to families in need through drive-up food distribution sites throughout southeast Michigan.  Visit our emergency response page for a full update.

At Gleaners, we believe that complex problems require collaborative solutions. In 2015, we heard from our Pontiac Distribution Center: “Our families need milk.” This sentiment rang true in all communities we serve—especially hungry households with young children. Milk is one of the most requested but rarely donated items at Gleaners. In order to get this highly nutritious, yet perishable item out to people in need, we needed the expertise of our entire team.

Operations Team: Secured the most cost-effective ways to acquire milk, thanks to partnerships with United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM), Michigan Dairy, Kroger, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Programs Team: Collaborated with operations to ensure milk would make it into the hands of families across southeast Michigan. Through this teamwork, fresh milk was available across the majority of Gleaners’ School Food Mobile pantries.

Logistics Team: With food safety certification from AIB International, our logistics team created an innovative and secure way to deliver fresh milk to people in need right where they live and work. Thanks to support from UDIM, Ford, and Carrier Transicold, our nimble trucks are constantly on the go, delivering fresh milk to our partner schools and hundreds of agency partner pantries, soup kitchens, and more.

“With disciplined project management and teamwork, Gleaners is distributing milk in ways no one has before.”

–Julie Beamer, Chief Operating Officer

Community Engagement Team: To better gauge potential public support around the distribution of milk, our community engagement team turned to our network of more than 40,000 volunteers with an ask: Would you give $10 to help provide fresh milk to people in need? Their support was overwhelming, signaling to Gleaners that the wider community would view our efforts to deliver nutritious milk as an essential tool to fight hunger.

Finance & Data Teams: With operations, logistics, programming and community support in place, it was time to ensure that milk distribution was part of our annual planning and budgeting. Our finance team helped organize acquired support and created a process for restricted funding to ensure money for milk would be available each year.

Fundraising Team: Gained tremendous amounts of support for our milk distribution—from national partnerships to donors like you. In order to maintain our distribution goal of eight truckloads per month, we need your help. Donate and support our M.I.L.K. Movement.

National Recognition: Thanks to our dedicated teams and network of supporters, Gleaners was awarded the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s 2019 Outstanding Community Impact Award.

Our Strategic Priorities at Work to Support Our Teams

Optimize People Power

By investing in our employees and encouraging cross-team collaboration, Gleaners empowers its staff to engage in new methods of result-oriented problem solving.