Real Science Exchange: Kooler Kids – Stephanie Walsh, Dairy Farmers of America

Episode 53: Kooler Kids

Guests: Stephanie Walsh (Dairy Farmers of America), Melissa Malcolm-Cullison (Cooler Management), Mark Inkrott (Owner of Cooler Management)

Co-Host: Charlie Benz, Balchem

Podcast Topic

Joining us at the table to discuss what their organizations are doing to make significant impacts on food security and hunger are Stephanie Walsh, Melissa Malcolm-Cullison and Mark Inkrott.


Stephanie Walsh, Director of Industry and Community Affairs for DFA (Dairy Farmers of America) highlights their Farmers Feeding Families Fund, ensuring community members receive the dairy products they need. 1:08

Vice President for Cooler Management, Melissa Malcolm-Cullison also joined the evening discussion, sharing her teams’ experience building infrastructure for food banks and food pantries across the country. 2:20

Co-Founder of the UpField Group and Owner of Cooler Management, Mark Inkrott also joined in on the discussion. For his entire career after sports, Inkrott noted that he’s been involved in supply chain work with both various brands and farmers alike. Since acquiring Cooler Management a few years ago, they have been specializing in cold storage ever since. 3:44

Analyzing the impacts COVID-19 had on the supply chain, Melissa talked about her connection with Charlie Benz of Balchem early in the pandemic. Adding that she saw wasted food due to the influx of food donations during that time, caused by a shortage in refrigerator space. 10:30

After brainstorming solutions with Charlie, Melissa said they realized infrastructure was the key to storing food donations safely to get them to families in need. Today, she added she is proud of the program because it offered a solution for nutritious foods like dairy to be donated without spoiling. 14:37

Stephanie said in support of food insecurity concerns, the DFA Cares Foundation offers education and scholarships to students studying agriculture. Additionally, she added that in 2022 the foundation provided 53 scholarships through the program. 15:22

Bringing the Cooler Management team and DFA together, Stephanie added in 2020 the two established a partnership to help donate coolers across the country and dairy products to local food pantries. 19:15

Melissa noted most people usually think about donating food to food pantries, but not dairy products or even refrigeration needs until programs like Cooler Management or Kooler Kids (from Balchem) begin. 30:26

To date, Mark said they have placed over 3,000 pieces of equipment into food pantries across the country. As for the Cooler Management team, they work with various retailers on finding adequate coolers for food banks and food pantries. 38:41

Healthy food equals a healthy family, Mark stated, adding that’s why investing 90 million dollars into 30,000 coolers for food pantries across the country just makes sense and keeps the team motivated. 48:09

It’s September Hunger Action month and so far Stephanie said the Farmers Feeding Families Fund has raised more than $950,000. Their goal is to raise the last $50,000. If anyone is called to help, she encourages everyone to make sure their own fridge is full of dairy products and also asks people to volunteer at their local food pantry. 57:50

Donations for the DFA Farmers Feeding Families Fund can happen at DFA.

Wrapping up, Mark reflected saying we have an influx of food going into the system, but without proper infrastructure and foundation, it will go to waste. He said if the industry does something about the 30,000 coolers, in 10 years we won’t have to think about refrigeration.1:13:02

Be a part of feeding the hungry and bringing the benefits of fresh dairy, produce and meat to those in need. Contact Your Balchem Representative or email [email protected] to learn more.

Learn more about these great programs:……

Please subscribe and share with your industry friends to bring more people to join us around the Real Science Exchange virtual pub table.

If you want one of our new Real Science Exchange t-shirts, make sure to screenshot your rating, review or subscription, and email a picture to [email protected]. Include your size and mailing address and we’ll get a shirt in the mail to you.

This podcast is sponsored by Balchem Animal Nutrition and Health. This podcast is sponsored by Balchem. All views expressed by the guests are the opinions of those individuals and are not the views of the Balchem, its affiliates or employees.

es_MXEspañol de México