WILLIAMSPORT -- Thousands of families across the state cannot afford to buy food like milk. Many food banks have never offered milk as an option, but that has all changed after an announcement Thursday.
Central Pennsylvania’s Food Bank announced Thursday that it will help provide free milk for hundreds of families in the Williamsport area who live in low-income households. It's something that's never been offered before.
The refrigerator at Williamsport's food bank is loaded with fruits and meat, but pretty soon employees will be packing it with a new product.
"Milk is such a high value nutritious product," said Jamie Caputo from Central PA Food Bank’s branch in Williamsport.
Central PA's food bank has teamed up with local dairy farmers and producers around the state and will begin providing free milk to families in need. The outreach pilot program is expected to help nearly 55,000 people in 27 counties across central Pennsylvania.
"It is a win-win-win the whole way around because it's benefiting the farmers. It's benefiting people in need and we're able to meet a need that hasn't been met," said Caputo.
Gallons of milk will be provided to places like one shelter in Williamsport where they are already providing milk, but at their own expense.
“We go through 20 gallons a week. Twenty to 25 gallons a week just for our shelters," said Mike Kane from American Rescue Workers.
The non-profit, American Rescue Workers, offers a free lunch to low income families. With the program in place, the non-profit hopes to save around$4400 dollars a year on milk.
"We're also really excited about the prospect to give milk out to families in need. That's something we're not able to do because of the expense of the milk." said Kane.
"The cost of milk is high. It's almost $4. We're just trying to minimize what we can afford," said Katrina Rice from Williamsport.
Rice brought her kids to the non-profit for a hot lunch. She said as single mom she's doing her best. She's glad that non-profits are there to help.
"I mean that helps them. You know? So, anything to help kids understand what nutrition is good," said Rice.
The food bank in Williamsport expects to have its first shipment of milk within several weeks.