Food Pantry of Waukesha County receives milk, dairy products from Golden Guernsey

Published on: 1/16/2013

Like many in the community, Karen Tredwell was saddened to hear that the Golden Guernsey plant in Waukesha closed Jan. 5.

"Our concern is for the loss in the community it has created," said Tredwell, executive director of the Food Pantry of Waukesha County. "(Golden Guernsey) was an icon.

"People have lost jobs (112 employees) and they could potentially become clients of ours. From people working at the plant to farmers producing the milk, a lot of people have been hit by this."

But as the leader of the local pantry, she was happy to hear that the products left inside the facility, 2101 Delafield St., are being donated to local agencies across the state, including her pantry at 1301 Sentry Drive in Waukesha.

With the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee serving as a catalyst and as a partner of the Food Pantry of Waukesha County, the pantry received more than 500 gallons of milk Tuesday as well as dairy products.

Tredwell said more products should be coming Wednesday.

This was made possible after the Hunger Task Force learned from WISN12 News that there were thousands of dairy products left in the facility.

"We were very fortunate, because we spend thousands of dollars on milk each year, so to get it for free is really great," Tredwell said.

In fact, Tredwell said about $25,000 is spent on milk that the pantry receives through grants and donations and even then she said there isn't always enough for families.

The pantry serves 6,500 clients a month, 42 percent of whom, Tredwell said, are children.

That number is why she said it's so important to have enough milk stocked at the pantry.

"Anytime we can partner with hunger relief agencies to expand our quantity, we do," Tredwell said. "And the Hunger Task Force has been very instrumental for us and in this situation with the volume of product that was in the facility we were delighted the Hunger Task Force took this on and assisted us."

Tredwell added Wisconsin has a law named the Good Samaritan Law where companies are protected from liability when it donates food believed to be safe and edible.

This proved not to be a problem because Tredwell said none of the milk products they received were past their expiration date and all the products were stored in an appropriate environment when in the plant.

After OpenGate Capital, the Los Angeles private equity firm that bought Golden Guernsey in 2011, shut down the plant, it filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court a few days later.

With more than 100 workers out of a job because of the closing, the Department of Workforce Development and its regional workforce partner, Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development Inc., scheduled Rapid Response orientation sessions for workers in the WOW region.

The first is Wednesday and the second is Thursday at the WOW Workforce Development Inc., offices at the Workforce Development Center, 892 Main St., Suite A, Pewaukee.

Affected workers were asked to pre-register by calling (262) 695-8041. The Rapid Response services are part of the DWD-administered Dislocated Worker Program, which serves workers who become dislocated when a business cuts positions or ceases operations entirely.

Without any notice of the closing, Golden Guernsey workers have fought back.

The DWD received a complaint last week alleging the closure occurred without advance notification as required under the state’s Business (Plant) Closing and Mass Layoff Law.

Under state law, employers with 50 or more workers must provide notice 60 days in advance of when 25 or more employees are affected by a business closing or 25 percent of the workforce is affected by a mass layoff.

The complaint was filed with the agency’s Equal Rights Division by Robert Storm Jr., of Burlington.

He said in his complaint that he believes “the wheels were in motion to close the plant a month ago."