Connecticut 4-H dairy

Local 4-H Families Distribute More Milk to Those in Need

Litchfield County 4-H members holding hot chocolate and candy canes
Litchfield County 4-H members help deliver milk to food pantries (left to right) Vienne Pelizzari, Maddie Hall, Kaleb Stelma, Kady Stelma (purple jacket)), Kora Stelma (in back), Kyla Stelma (with hat), and Marjorie Swift.

Litchfield County 4-H continued its grassroots effort to help local families in need this week.  This effort builds upon several dairy donations that have gone to area food pantries over the past two years since the pandemic started back in March of 2020.

On 12/15/22, 4 pallets (equating to 768 gallons) of whole milk purchased by grants secured by Kathy Minck and Food Rescue US were distributed to food pantries throughout Litchfield County by several Litchfield County 4-H members and volunteers. Members of the Litchfield County 4-H distributed the milk to 24 food pantries throughout Litchfield County.

The milk was delivered to the Stop and Shop store on High St in Torrington where the milk was offloaded into waiting vehicles owned by Litchfield County 4-H families.  These volunteers then delivered the milk to designated food pantries.

This continuing effort, referred to as “Operation Community Impact”, was organized by Bill Davenport, UConn Extension Educator and County 4-H Program Coordinator in partnership with Kathy Minck, Food Rescue US.

This was the 20th Litchfield County 4-H dairy distribution that has occurred since March of 2020. At the end of this 20th effort, they have achieved a total of over 250,000 pounds of milk and other dairy products distributed by 4-H members into refrigerators of over 1,400 Litchfield County families in need.

Litchfield County 4-H members decided to make this latest milk distribution a special holiday themed effort. 4-H Members spent the past two weeks securing donations from local stores to be able to provide the food insecure families who pick up a gallon of milk with a 4-H holiday gift bag including hot chocolate mix, candy canes, and handwritten holiday greeting cards from a local 4-H member. 

Milk tops the list as one of the food items most requested by food banks, as it is difficult for the pantries to store and distribute due to lack of refrigerator space at most pantries. It is also the number one food item requested by food insecure families in need. Litchfield County 4-H plans to continue its efforts in working with Kathy Minck and Food Rescue US in securing grants and donations to keep the milk flowing to these food insecure families across Litchfield County well into the new year. 

Community Service is one of the key components of the 4-H experience as members actively participate in several community service initiatives such as Operation Community Impact

4-H is a national program with six million youth participating in various project areas who learn life skills, supervised by over 500,000 volunteer leaders. Litchfield County has 34 active 4-H clubs with over 400 active members in those clubs. Project areas include but are not limited to beef cattle, canine, crafts, dairy cattle, dairy goats, equine, community nutrition, food safety, food preparation skills, horticulture, mechanics, oxen, poultry, sewing, sheep, small animals, STEM, and swine. The 4-H program is organized into four program areas including Agriculture, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living and STEM. These themes all overlap throughout the 4-H experience, with emphasis placed on creating well-rounded individuals. 4-H is the youth development program offered through the UConn Extension system. The purpose of UConn as Connecticut’s land grant university is to provide the citizens of Connecticut with educational opportunities through teaching, research and extension programming. For more information about 4-H and how to join, please contact Bill Davenport, Litchfield County Extension 4-H Educator, at or at 860-626-6854. 

Award Winning Grilled Cheese

winning team
The winning grilled cheese team.

Connecticut 4-H dairy members entered the Grilled Cheese Competition at the Big E in mid-September and won the top award against teams of 4-H members from across New England. Connecticut 4-H, which is part of UConn Extension, had two teams entered. The winning team consisted of Mikayla Durant, Victoria Footit, and Melanie Trotochaud. Mikayla and Victoria are from New Haven County, and Melanie is from New London County.

A second Connecticut 4-H team also entered the competition, and placed fourth overall. The team included Makena Shea, Haley Desaulniers, and Conor Smith. All three are members of the Hartford County 4-H program.

The Grilled Cheese Competition is an interactive and fun learning experience in food preparation and food safety that also promotes teamwork and public relations for 4-H members.

2015 grilled cheese team 2[1]
Members of our 4th place grilled cheese team during the contest.
Teams consist of three 4-H youth members, who bring their own recipe and supplies to the competition. Youth have a 15-minute grilling heat to prepare sandwiches for the judges. Sandwiches are presented to each judge, and 4-H members explain their dish and answer questions. Teams are judged on food handling and safety, taste, group presentation to the judges, teamwork, cleanliness, and creativity.

The winning team worked with many partners on their way to victory. UConn Chef Robert Landolphi worked with the 4-H members to pair cinnamon swirl bread from the UConn Bakery with fresh peaches and Camembert cheese from Arethusa Farm in Litchfield. The grilled cheese was served with a side of maple syrup produced at Staebner’s Blue Slope Farm in Franklin for dipping.

grilled cheese on plate
The winning grilled cheese

A group of cheese and artesian food professionals judged, and Jason Sobocinski from Caseus (Fromagerie Bistro, Food Truck) in New Haven put his Cooking Channel experience to use and served as guest host.

4-H volunteers Tina Trotochaud and Kirsten Kruger worked with the Connecticut 4-H teams. For more information on UConn Extension’s 4-H program, please visit or call 1-888-FOUR-H-CT.

By: Stacey Stearns