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Farmers thank Culver’s for thanking them

Courtney Moser for Progressive Dairyman Published on 14 February 2019
Culver's gift basket

It has been said the greatest need of any person is to feel appreciated. With low milk prices and the decline of dairy farms, many farmers are left feeling underappreciated, but the Wisconsin-based restaurant chain Culver’s has been thanking farmers personally.

Culver’s got its start with the help of dairy farmers over three decades ago and has been committed to helping farmers now and into the future, according to Culver Franchising System LLC Marketing and Public Relations Specialist Alison Wedig.

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With that in mind, Culver’s set out in 2018 to show their support of Wisconsin dairy farmers in a new way.

“We thought that we could surprise dairy farmers with a care package from Culver’s,” Wedig says, “but the really great part was that their fellow friends and neighbors were able to nominate them to create and send these packages on behalf of Culver’s.”

In total, Culver’s sent 800 care packages in November 2018 on behalf of farm friends and neighbors to dairy farmers throughout Wisconsin.

Amber McComish of McComish Family Farms works with her husband, Joe, and his parents, Tim and Kim. They milk 220 dairy cows and crop 2,000 acres of corn, beans and wheat in Darlington. Amber McComish was a surprised recipient of a care package.

“I was definitely surprised. I had heard that they had this project going, but I did not know the extremes,” McComish says.

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Care packages consisted of 10 vouchers each for free value basket meals and one-scoop sundaes, as well as one $100 gift card, all enclosed in a handwritten thank you note.

“The fact that they went above and beyond, and along with that sent a card that was handwritten, it really meant a lot and showed us that they do appreciate what we do,” says dairy farmer Rachel O’Leary.

O’Leary is the fifth generation on O’Leary’s Shamrock Acres LLC in Janesville. Together with her father, brother and uncle, she milks about 150 Holsteins and Jerseys.

In Sauk City, Mystic Valley Dairy LLC cares for about 1,000 head of dairy cattle. Owner Mitch Breunig expressed his thanks to Culver’s for the work they do to thank farmers.

“We really appreciate it when they thank farmers because it’s days like today that maybe our work is a little bit stressful and you wonder what you’re doing, but when you get a written thank you, it just makes you feel better,” Breunig says.

With Culver’s sending care packages to show their appreciation for farmers, many recipients chose to extend that appreciation to their families and employees.

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Gwen Dado owns and operates Four Hands Holsteins in Amery with her husband, Rick, their four children and Gwen’s mother. Gwen Dado was very humbled to have received a Culver’s care package and knew right away she wanted to share it.

“The first thing I did was treat my mom to lunch because behind each farm family is usually a generation or more,” Dado says. “For us, that was my mom, so I wanted to take her out to lunch first.”

Beyond lunch with her mother, Dado plans to serve a meal to employees at Four Hands Holsteins once the weather warms up. O’Leary had a similar idea to share meals with farm employees but on days where time is sparse.

“When we’re crunched for time and we’re trying to keep up with everything outside, we’re able to just run in to Culver’s and grab hot meals for everybody and just bring it back,” O’Leary says.

Those hot meals were quickly enjoyed by workers at McComish Family Farms as the meal vouchers were dispersed among employees.

McComish cheerfully adds, “And yes, the gift card is all used up because we go to Culver’s quite frequently.”

While discussing the Thank You Farmer’s Project, McComish admits she still has the handwritten letter tagged to a board in her office as a positive reminder.

“I’m not gonna lie; I cried when I received this,” McComish says. “I think farmers have been greatly underappreciated for a long time, and having a restaurant chain such as Culver’s recognize us and support us at such great lengths is greatly appreciated. Their support of farmers is pretty much unprecedented.”

Dado adds that the work Culver’s does to show their support and commitment to dairy farmers speaks volumes of who they are as a company. Their care packages and thanks come as a spark of encouragement to farmers to continue providing food for our nation despite the challenging economic times.

Among the care package recipients was Junion Homestead Farm, which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year. As the sixth generation on the farm, Amanda Dolphin works with her parents and farm owners, Tony and Peggy Knorn, to milk 225 cows in Casco.

Dolphin is proud of the work Culver’s does to educate consumers in addition to showing their support of Wisconsin dairy farmers.

“Culver’s is helping bridge the gap between the consumers and the producers by educating people where their food comes from,” Dolphin says. “The Thank a Farmer Project was a heartfelt gesture, and it spread a lot of cheer to producers like ourselves.”

Wedig emphasizes the importance of ensuring the longevity of our food supply. She shares that Culver’s continues to look for ways to support agricultural education initiatives through programs such as FFA while showing their appreciation for all that farmers do.

While farmers on the receiving end of care packages have shared their thanks for Culver’s on various social media platforms, they too want to extend a personal thanks when possible.

“I met Craig Culver last week at an event,” McComish says. “I expressed my thanks to him, and he was very humble about it. He just kept saying how thankful he was for farmers and the job that they do.”

As a member of the team at Culver’s who worked on the project, Wedig says it has been amazing to see the generosity and gratefulness farmers have expressed. She adds that Culver’s will continue to look for ways to appreciate dairy farmers everywhere and show support when possible.

As the overall Thank You Farmers Project continues, farmers such as Dado will likely continue to thank Culver’s for thanking them.

“I just cannot thank Culver’s enough for their generosity and appreciation of dairy farmers,” Dado says.  end mark

For more about the efforts of Culver’s to support the entire agriculture industry, visit Culver’s website.

Courtney Moser is a sophomore at Wartburg College studying journalism and communication.

PHOTO: “Farming can be tough,” Amber McComish wrote on Facebook in November 2018. “It makes it easier when you know your work is appreciated. Thank you @culvers for the gift card and coupons! It brought tears to my eyes just thinking someone out there is thinking of us, and it made not just my day, but my week. Thank you!" Photo provided by Amber McComish.

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