US Artisan Cheese Makers Team Up To Create ‘Victory Cheese Box’ Series

With a nod to the famous Victory Gardens of World War II, the US specialty cheese industry has created its own “Victory Cheese Box” initiative.

During World War II, Allied citizens were encouraged to plant gardens to supplement food rations and boost morale.

Victory Cheese is the result of a volunteer, grass-roots collective of cheese professionals – including cheese makers, mongers, chefs, and cheese guilds from across the US.

The Victory Cheese Box is specifically designed to deliver more American artisan cheese to consumers while supporting dairy farmers, cheese makers and purveyors every step of the way.

Each “Maker Direct by Victory Cheese” will serve as a platform to connect consumers with small producers who don’t have the resources to market and sell their products online.

Currently in its initial stage, participants are reaching out to cheese makers, distributors and cheese shops across the country to join the project. Right now, Victory Boxes are shipped from Saxelby Cheese in New York City, as well as Vermont’s Mad River Taste Place and Cellars at Jasper Hill.

As of March 26, Vermont cheese makers have seen approximately 50 percent losses in sales due to the COVID-19 impact, the Vermont Cheese Council (VCC) reported.

“We encourage those interested in supporting and sustaining Vermont cheese makers and local farmers during these challenging times to buy Vermont cheese, as well as all locally-produced food products, when you can,” VCC continued.

Victory Boxes feature a different theme with each collection and total over two pounds of cheese. The first Vermont-based Victory Box is all about Cheddar – Landaff from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, Shelburne Farms’ One-Year Sharp Cheddar, Crowley Cheese Extra Sharp Reserve, Grafton Village Two-Year Cheddar, and Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company Cheddar.

The collection also includes Blake Hill Orange Marmalade made by Blake Hill Preserves in partnership with Jasper Hill Farm.

Along with directly supporting participating cheese makers, 10 percent of sales from each Victory Box will be donated to the Vermont Cheese Council.

The Council has also developed an online sales directory to help consumers in New England and beyond find and buy Vermont cheeses.
Information can be found at www.vtcheese.com.

The Victory Cheese project has assembled a list of ways the entire US specialty cheese industry can participate in the campaign.

For cheese shops, a “Cheese of the Week/Month” themed box could be created where the cheeses included would rotate regularly.

Restaurants could offer a Victory Cheese Box add-on to its take-out menu, so it’s easy for customers to order the box with their dinner. Restaurants can also partner with local cheese shops.

Breweries and wineries can pair growlers, six-packs, or bottle flights to a Victory Cheese Box in order to provide an elevated pairing experience, or consider hosting virtual tasting sessions.

Cheese makers are encouraged to collaborate with other nearby producers to leverage e-commerce and shipping opportunities.

For independent cheese professionals, there’s the possibility of starting a neighborhood cheese CSA. Members can work with producers to purchase pre-cuts and arrange payment terms.

For consumers, simply buy a Victory Cheese box and encourage friends and family to do the same.

Requirements, Membership
To be part of the program, members have established a small list of requirements. For example, each box must include a minimum of one pound of cheese, and all cheese must be made by US cheese producers, ideally from a particular state or region.

Participants must also follow local health department guidelines to ensure food safety and, if shipping, comply with cold chain shipping standards.

A Victory Cheese Info Card should be included in every box and if possible, donate a portion of proceeds to a food or cheese organization in need a local food bank, a non-profit for restaurant relief, or a cheese guild.

Members may also consider a donation ‘“add on” where consumers can donate a box to a family in need or make a direct cash donation to a food or cheese organization.

Finally, members need to register with Victory Cheese. With membership, participants will be able to connect with a regional coordinator for planning support, receive all the assets such as logos and stickers, and become eligible to use the Victory Cheese brand.

Members will also be included in the projects marketing efforts – listed on website, social media and other public relations initiatives.

For complete details on the new initiative, visit www.victorycheese.com..
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