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On another run, the Cornell Dairy truck passes the dairy plant in Stocking Hall along Tower Road. 

Cornell Dairy helps replenish P&C Fresh milk stock

When Cornell suspended classes March 13 and announced the switch to remote work in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, P&C Fresh customers scrambled to stock up on bread, butter, toilet paper and milk.

Allan Malek, manager of the East Hill Plaza store, wrote a quick email on March 14 to the Cornell Dairy Processing Plant, inquiring if it had any fluid milk and other dairy products the store could sell, alleviating some of the retailer’s shortages.

Within days, dairy plant manager Tim Barnard had delivered three truckloads of milk to the store, along with yogurt, butter, ice cream and cheese. Everything sold, and Barnard expects to deliver two more truckloads by this weekend.

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“We had product in the store early that week,” said Greg Young, co-owner of P&C Fresh. “It was a very quick turnaround on Cornell’s part to help us out. It was very appreciated by us – and by our customers – to help fill the void.”

In general, Cornell stays out of the commercial dairy market, while it is a licensed processing plant. Carmen Moraru, chair of the Department of Food Science, forwarded the store’s request to Kathryn J. Boor ’80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Boor presented the request to Cornell Provost Michael Kotlikoff, who approved the emergency sale to P&C Fresh.

During a normal semester, the Cornell Dairy processes about 3,000 gallons of milk each week, produced by the 200-cow herd at the Teaching Dairy Barn, which is managed by the College of Veterinary Medicine. The processing plant makes fluid milk, yogurt, butter and cheese for Cornell Dining. It also makes 18 flavors of ice cream for the Cornell Dairy Bar – which is also scooped in the dining halls.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Young said grocery stores are still trying to keep up.

“It is not just milk,” said Young. “The supply chain in general has been completely disrupted. It’s visible across our store where we are still struggling. But milk, eggs and a lot of fresh products were hit early on.”

Barnard said that the Dairy Plant will continue to process fluid milk, even during the coronavirus situation, as the cows must be milked daily. He said he was pleased to help the store.

Said Barnard: “We saw it as helping out the community during this crisis.”

For information on the coronavirus and its impact on Cornell, visit the university’s Coronavirus Updates webpage. Read about how the university is pulling together in this unprecedented time at the Cornell Chronicle’s ongoing compilation of coronavirus stories.

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Abby Butler