Dairy MAX cooler boosts Tarleton Purple Pantry options

TSU Newsroom
Present for the recent ribbon cutting of the new Dairy MAX cooling unit at Tarleton’s Purple Pantry were, from left, Dr. Kelli C. Styron, vice president for Student Affairs; Cameron Ellner, graduate assistant for the Purple Pantry; Dr. Barbara Jones, assistant professor of dairy science and director of the Southwest Regional Dairy Center at Tarleton; Angela Wood, local dairy producer and Dairy MAX board member; Dr. Lora Helvie-Mason, assistant vice president for Student Affairs; Candace Bell, representative of Dairy MAX; and Malissa Harris, Purple Pantry volunteer.

STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State University’s Purple Pantry welcomed Dairy MAX representatives and local dairy farmers recently at a ribbon cutting for a new Dairy MAX cooling unit.

Attendees included Candace Bell, Dairy MAX Business Development; Wade Howard, Dairy MAX Industry Image and Relations; dairy farmer Angela Wood, a Dairy MAX board member; Dr. Kelli Styron, Tarleton vice president for Student Affairs; Dr. Lora Helvie-Mason, assistant vice president for Student Affairs; Dr. Barbara Jones, assistant professor and Southwest Regional Dairy Center director; Bobby Waddell, Development and Business Relations officer; Cameron Ellner, Purple Pantry graduate assistant; and Purple Pantry student volunteers.

The event heralded a new connection between Tarleton and Dairy MAX, one of the leading regional dairy councils in the United States. Since the onset of the pandemic, Dairy MAX has helped increase refrigeration capacity at university food pantries.

Through a program to provide commercial coolers to college campuses in the company’s eight-state region, students and others can access dairy regularly. The ribbon cutting celebrated the 64-gallon commercial cooler. It holds fresh milk, cheese, yogurt and butter.

Tarleton’s Purple Pantry, like similar operations nationwide, has faced never-before levels of use during the pandemic — last fall, nearly three times that of a typical fall semester. More than 2,000 items a month, including food, hygiene and academic materials, help support students on the Stephenville campus.

“Our students were seeking dairy-based products, and the Dairy MAX cooler will go a long way in helping us meet this unprecedented need,” Styron said.

Dairy is one of the most requested, yet least available items in food banks. The average food bank client receives one gallon of milk per year versus the 68 gallons needed to meet dietary recommendations.

“The dairy farm families that Dairy MAX represents are committed to making sure the food pantries on college campuses are equipped to meet their clients’ needs,” said Jennie McDowell, Dairy MAX director of business development.

Founded more than 40 years ago, Dairy MAX represents more than 900 dairy farmers and serves communities in Colorado, southwest Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, western Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. A nonprofit organization, Dairy MAX is part of a nationwide effort to support dairy farming and drive impact for every dairy farmer while promoting U.S. agriculture.

The organization runs five audience outreach programs: business development, consumer marketing, health and wellness, industry image and relations, and school marketing. For more information, visit dairymax.org.

The Purple Pantry was launched in August 2015 and recently expanded to include fresh, refrigerated and frozen products, as well as academic and personal care items. It has two locations, one in Stephenville in the lower level of the Barry B. Thompson Student Center and a shelf-stable pantry on the third floor of Building 1 on the new Fort Worth campus. Learn more at www.tarleton.edu/purplepantry or foodpantry@tarleton.edu.

Tarleton, founding member of The Texas A&M University System, provides a student-focused, value-driven education marked by academic innovation and a dedication to transform today’s scholars into tomorrow’s leaders. It offers degree programs to more than 14,000 students at Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, RELLIS Academic Alliance in Bryan, and online, emphasizing real-world learning experiences that address societal needs while maintaining its core values of tradition, integrity, civility, excellence, leadership and service.