Coming Together: Borden Dairy Pivots Business Model During Pandemic to Give Back, Support YMCA Child Care for Essential Workers

Gloria Salinas, Managing Director, Economic Development

Weathering a crisis means being a part of the solution. That’s the foundation of Dallas-based Borden Dairy’s business model.

Alba Sanchez (right) and her children pick up their free breakfast and lunch that was delivered on Monday March 23, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Jay Janner, American-Statesman/ USA TODAY Network)

Founded in 1856, just before the American Civil War, Borden has a long history and tradition of serving up creative solutions during times of crisis. The dairy processor and distributor supplied milk to the Union Army during the Civil War and, during World War II, the company’s mascot Elsie the Cow sold $10 million in U.S. war bonds to help the government finance the war.

Today, Dallas is home to the company’s headquarters, two office locations, a manufacturing plant, and a major distribution center – totaling more than 600 employees throughout the region.

“We are experienced at pivoting in the face of challenge,” said Borden Dairy CEO Tony Sarsam. “We take a people-first approach to everything we do, and we take pride in being a valued community partner.”

As the sudden impact of COVID-19 began closing many schools and businesses across the country, Borden started losing many of its product delivery routes. The closure of schools, restaurants, and cruise ships combined equals about one-third of the company’s business.

“Like everyone, the sudden impact of COVID-19 created a massive challenge for us. Our manufacturing plants shifted instantly by producing significantly less single-serve products and more gallons,” Sarsam said. “We redeployed most [store and school delivery] drivers to do Meals on Wheels, community service deliveries, and/or filling in employment gaps in our warehouses. We are working feverishly to get the remainder of that team back to work full-time.”

Meanwhile, the YMCA Metropolitan of Dallas was searching for a solution to provide quality childcare for essential workers who work in multiple counties across the region and have children in several school districts across the region.

Curt Hazelbaker, President and CEO of YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, said the organization has always changed and adapted to meet the needs of the community, and the pandemic created a need for quality childcare and programming for children of essential workers who were required to be away during the day.

The YMCA opened its Emergency Child Care Program a week before Dallas County’s shelter-in-place mandate took effect. The program provides a structured and safe learning environment at seven Dallas-area YMCAs from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Children of essential workers, including first responders, medical professionals, government officials, grocery, and retail supply chain employees, receive a structured daily schedule from the program that covers health and hygiene, STEAM projects, physical activities, nutrition education, and a virtual learning component for children who need assistance completing online school work.

The program was approved by Dallas County and follows a safe one leader per every nine children, with six-foot distancing at all times. Children receive lunch and two snacks per day at the YMCA. Borden’s weekly delivery of donated milk and juices to the program allow every child to have an apple and orange juice twice a day at snack time.

“Although our physical locations are temporarily closed, the Y continues to support and provide for our community in its time of need with emergency childcare for those serving on the front lines,” Hazelbaker said. “We thank Borden Dairy for partnering with us and helping provide children in our care the nourishment they need throughout the day.”

Children in the Coppell YMCA Emergency Child Care program enjoy snack time provided by Borden Dairy. Photographer: Colleen McCauley, Coppell YMCA.

Borden is delivering weekly servings of about 2,200 milks and juices to Dallas Region YMCA locations. Nationwide, the company has donated about 588,000 servings of products to nonprofits and schools that are offering drive-through options for free meal programs. While the company is providing product to nonprofits and schools, it has shifted most of its production and delivery to meet the demand of grocery stores.

In addition to supporting communities, Borden is donating one gallon of milk to its employees every week, relaxing its attendance policy to ensure employees stay healthy during the pandemic, and utilizing a reward program to recognize employees for the essential work they do to keep grocery stores stocked.

“Our team has stepped up, as always, to meet this challenge head on with creative solutions, teamwork, a passion to win, and a servant’s heart,” Sarsam said.

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For more information and to register, visit the YMCA Emergency Child Care Program website.

YMCA Emergency Child Care Locations

As of April 1

Coppell YMCA

  • Address: 146 Town Center Blvd., Coppell 75019
  • Phone: 972-393-5121

Grand Prairie YMCA

  • Address: 4556 S. Carrier Pkwy., Grand Prairie 75052
  • Phone: 972-642-9632

McKinney YMCA

  • Address: 300 Ridge Road, McKinney 75072
  • Phone: 972-529-2559

**Park South YMCA (Fair Park)

  • Address: 2500 Romine Ave., Dallas 75215
  • Phone: 214-421-5301

Plano YMCA

  • Address: 3300 McDermott, Plano 75025
  • Phone: 214-705-9459

Richardson YMCA

  • Address: 821 Custer Road, Richardson 75080
  • Phone: 972-231-3424

Semones YMCA (NW Dallas)

  • Address: 4332 Northaven Road, Dallas 75229
  • Phone: 214-357-8431

Boone Pickens YMCA (Downtown Dallas)

  • Address: 601 N. Akard Street, Dallas 75201
  • Phone: 214- 954-0500

**Park South YMCA (Fair Park) provides a virtual learning program and serves as a food distribution site for the surrounding local community.