Agriculture, Food, Ranching

Double 8 Dairy Adapts to COVID-19

April 9, 2020

When Marin County’s shelter-in-place order was announced in mid-March, local dairyman and Marin native Andrew Zlot, owner of Double 8 Dairy in Valley Ford and co-owner of MALT-protected Millerton Creek Ranch, witnessed his restaurant accounts close overnight. Since 2013, Double 8 Dairy has supplied water buffalo milk gelato, cheese and barista milk to top San Francisco and North Bay restaurants and cafés — restaurants and cafés that are now closed. Suddenly without buyers for his products, Andrew faced an impossible choice: dumping fresh buffalo and Jersey cow milk or closing his dairy operations completely. Hoping to avoid both, Andrew moved quickly to adapt to the changing market and find an alternative solution. 

Double 8 Dairy is one of just a few dairy bottling production facilities in the North Bay, allowing Andrew the unique opportunity to bottle his milk for easy distribution to local communities. Knowing that many individuals and families in our region are now facing a loss of income, Andrew called his bottle supplier and local hunger relief organizations, including the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, which are eager for nutrient-rich food donations as they respond to a significant increase in need. When Andrew’s bottle supplier offered Double 8 Dairy his milk bottles at cost, a plan started to take shape. Within a week, the Double 8 Dairy team had bottled and delivered 600 gallons of fresh milk to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank for distribution to seniors and families facing hunger throughout Marin County.

A member of the Double 8 Dairy team bottles milk for delivery to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank.

Andrew hopes he can continue to donate fresh milk to local food banks in the challenging weeks ahead. In order for this to happen, however, he must find a way to cover the dairy’s operational costs and keep his small staff of six employed. 

“We milk 50 cows and produce 200 gallons of milk per day,” Andrew said. “That’s is 1,400 gallons per week, which could feed 1,400 families per week. This is an unusual opportunity to link high quality, protein-rich food with people who need it most. We all want to help our local food banks expand their services and provide additional support. It’s possible that we can keep farmers in business and people well-fed all at the same time.” 

Andrew Zlot, owner of Double 8 Dairy in Valley Ford and co-owner of MALT-protected Millerton Creek Ranch, prepares to deliver freshly bottled milk to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank.

Learn more about Double 8 Dairy and keep up with Andrew as he works to get fresh milk to communities currently experiencing food insecurity in Marin and throughout our region. Follow Double 8 Dairy on Instagram and Facebook.