Central Wisconsin dairy drive helps donate 5,000 pounds of cheese

Pallets of cheese at the Nasonville factory in Marshfield, Wisconsin, on May 11, 2020. (WSAW)
Pallets of cheese at the Nasonville factory in Marshfield, Wisconsin, on May 11, 2020. (WSAW)(WSAW)
Published: May. 11, 2020 at 9:16 PM CDT
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Mark Cournoyer is an agriculture teacher at Auburndale High School with family roots in the dairy industry. Meaning he knew how to connect dairy farmers, his job, and families looking for food.

"I dare you to make a run on cheese because you won't run these guys out."

It started as a Facebook challenge to donate one pound of cheese and one pound of milk for every family in the Auburndale School District.

It's now evolved into 5,000 pounds of cheese distributed Monday at the Nasonville dairy plant in Marshfield. The cheese will go to nine different school districts, six in central Wisconsin.

"People love their dairy farmers,” said Cournoyer, co-coordinator of the Auburndale dairy drive. “Dairy farmers around Wisconsin, around the United States, around the world, need to know that they have friends in places they never knew."

Doug Fuller and his wife started their dairy challenge a few weeks ago for another Wood County city, Wisconsin Rapids.

"We donated milk for 180 families," Fuller said.

And today?

"We took about 550 pounds."

The dairy drive benefits are two-fold: Food for communities across the area and support for dairy farmers whose outlook was bleak

"Cheese was really in the hole when we first started,” Cournoyer said. “And as cheese prices creep up, we know that this process is working."

5,000 pounds is a lot of cheese.

"It represents two weeks of supply that we're sending out to all these schools represented here,” Cournoyer said.

He thinks it's just the start.

"Five thousand pounds is a drop in the bucket compared to what we can do all together if we work on this,” said Cournoyer. “Sky's the limit on this thing, and I’m just really proud to be a part of it."

The inspiration behind his commitment to the drive runs deep.

"My uncle took me under his wing at the age of nine, put me on a tractor, and said ‘go and drive,’” Cournoyer said. “He's been gone for two years now, and this is for him, and for all you dairy farmers out there, this is for you."

Cournoyer said the support for the drive so far has been so outstanding they plan on running it throughout the summer.