- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2017

Former Washington Redskins running back Brian Mitchell attributes his healthy bones to drinking milk — lots of it.

“As a young kid, two gallons of milk a week would be gone by myself,” Mr. Mitchell said Thursday during an appearance at the Georgetown Safeway grocery store. “I know it made me healthy and strong.”

During the kickoff of the Great American Milk Drive, the former Redskin noted that the only broken bone he ever suffered during his football career — which spanned from sixth grade to 14 years in the NFL — was a broken kneecap during seventh-grade touch football.

Mr. Mitchell took part Thursday in the annual drive to provide milk to local children and families in need — a joint charity effort by Safeway, the Capital Area Food Bank, the Maryland Food Bank, the American Dairy Association and Feeding America.

“Hunger is here. It’s right where we live,” said Molly McGlinchy, food resource director at the Capital Area Food Bank. “The food bank is reaching 540,000 people in our community — that’s 12 percent of the region’s population — every year.”

Mr. Mitchell said helping those who are less fortunate benefits the entire community.

“A lot of times when we do things, we don’t know where it’s going to go,” he said. “This is right here in this community, it’ll help out all the local food banks, it’s going to make the people in our communities stronger … If you make the weakest person a little stronger, you make the whole community stronger.”

Children need milk to reach their full potential, said Laurie Savage, a dairy farmer from Montgomery County.

“Milk can help power the potential of kids, but only if they have access to it,” Mrs. Savage said. “Dairy farmers work hard every day to produce nutritious, wholesome milk for our communities.”

Kimberly Purcell, industry relations manager for the Milk Processor Education Program, said the Great American Milk Drive provides milk to Feeding America, the nation’s largest network of food banks.

“Those who are relying on food banks actually get less than one gallon a year per family,” she said.

Ms. McGlinchy said food banks need more milk.

“It’s rare that we get a donation of milk because of the refrigeration issues, but fresh milk is a donation that we’re increasingly asking for,” Ms. McGlinchy said.

Matt Boyd, a Safeway regional manager, said the grocery store chain is donating $500 and customers can donate through June 30.

“That’s what’s so great about this program,” Ms. Purcell said. “Shoppers can easily donate to local families and kids in need while they’re doing their very own grocery shopping.”

“Tell your friends about it so when they come in here [they] drop an extra $5 on their [grocery] bill to make sure that we get the milk in the hands of the people in this community,” Mr. Mitchell said.

He said his parents exemplified community charity.

“As a kid, my house was the neighborhood house,” he said. “My dad was a chef and my mom cooked. We had seven kids in the family, but she cooked as if she was feeding a football team every day. She said someone may stop by and need something, and that’s the same way I think this whole [food bank] situation is.”

Mr. Mitchell said his parents passed their lessons of charity on to him, which have helped him be a proponent of milk for the past six or seven years.

“I grew up with the mindset of making sure people had the things that they needed to have,” he said. “When I started doing stuff with the Dairy Council, it came hand in hand.”

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