Sargento Foods donating 15.8 million cheese sticks to Milwaukee-based Hunger Task Force and Feeding America

Rick Barrett
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Kristin Geary works on a line packaging Balanced Breaks snacks Sargento Foods Inc.

Sargento Foods, of Plymouth, says it is donating $2 million in cheese sticks to Milwaukee-based Hunger Task Force and Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in the United States.  

Sargento says it’s providing 15.8 million cheese sticks that will help feed more than 1.3 million American households.

“Our long-standing commitment to fighting hunger means more now than ever before. We are grateful to continue our partnership with Hunger Task Force and expand our outreach nationally through Feeding America to help families in Wisconsin and across the nation. We want to do our part to address the growing issue of hunger and food insecurity during these challenging times,” Louie Gentine, the family-owned company’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Founded in 1953 in Plymouth, Wisconsin, Sargento created the world’s first successful pre-packaged sliced and shredded natural cheeses. The company employs more than 1,800 people at four Wisconsin facilities: Plymouth, Kiel, Hilbert and Elkhart Lake.

Along with selling its cheese products at supermarkets and other stores, Sargento sells cheeses, appetizers and sauces to restaurants and other food manufacturers.

Wednesday, the nonprofit Hunger Task Force said it would commit up to $1 million to a newly created Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Program aimed at helping farmers and food pantries.

Under the program, farmers will be paid to supply milk to Kemps, a dairy cooperative based in Minnesota, which will process the milk at its plant in Cedarburg.

Hunger Task Force will distribute the milk and dairy products to food banks and pantries through the Hunger Relief Federation of Wisconsin.

Hunger Task Force, which serves 50,000 people a month, 40% of whom are children, has partnered with the state Agriculture Department and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin in the new program funded by donations.