Haines milk mix-up benefits local food program

surplus milk in Haines
Surplus cartons of milk from an accidental eight-pallet order in cold storage at Olerud’s grocery store in Haines. (Courtesy Olerud’s)

A Haines store’s misfortune has become the Salvation Army’s gain, as an accidental surplus of milk at a local grocery store made its way to the non-profit’s monthly food program.

Following a shipping error that left Olerud’s Market Center with thousands of extra half-pint cartons of milk, there was a scramble by the owner to move the excess at extremely discounted prices before it spoiled. The Haines Salvation Army was one organization to benefit. Salvation Army Captains Kevin and Serina Woods gathered a substantial amount of the small cartons.

Kevin Woods says they were able to distribute them to the community. 

“(We) picked up I think 10, 10 or 12 cases of it — milk crates full of the little small school-sized ones, and gave it all away part of it in town here and then part of it out of Mosquito Lake,” he said. “I think I took eight cases of it out to Mosquito Lake and then the rest of it we (took to) Gateway here in town.”

Woods says the timing of the discounted milk lined up perfectly with the Salvation Army’s monthly commodities giveaway. The free food, including the milk this month, includes a healthy variety for families that might be struggling to reach their dietary needs. The amount of food in each giveaway is based on family size.

“Yeah, nothing goes to waste, you know?” he said. “I think it’s one to four and a household, they get one bag; if it’s over four and a household, then they can get two bags, you know, and then it kind of goes up from there.”

Kevin said the Woodses have been running the Salvation Army food program in Haines for nearly eight years, something that they take pride in.

“Oh, man, I wake up every day and look forward to what I do,” he said. “I take pride in our food boxes and all that. And when we got here it was hard because there wasn’t a whole lot of food, and it was they were really struggling and all that. And because of my experience with the big food banks down in California, I knew what to do and I knew who to ask and I knew what buttons to push and whose desk to jump up and down on, and so it wasn’t very long and our shelf started filling up in the connections with the food banks over in Anchorage and stuff started happening. And that’s what I wanted, because we don’t have a whole lot of money here in Haines.”

Families interested in the monthly commodity giveaway can fill out a simple form at the Salvation Army. For those needing help with food in between the commodity giveaways, there are small food boxes available at the Salvation Army during the week.

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