Why milkmen are in high demand amid the coronavirus crisis: ‘People are yearning for the basics'

Milk delivery services are in high demand during the coronavirus crisis. (Photo: Getty Images)
Milk delivery services are in high demand during the coronavirus crisis. (Photo: Getty Images)

The coronavirus has dealt the country a devastating economic blow, however milkmen, who have delivered dairy products to American doorsteps since the 1800s, are prospering as shelter-in-place orders, a wariness of grocery stores and unusual wait times for home delivery services take hold.

“The world is at a standstill right now and people are yearning for the basics,” Frank Acosta, the co-owner of Manhattan Milk, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “People call us lifesavers because they can’t get orders from Amazon or Fresh Direct.”

During quarantine, people are seeking serenity in cooking and baking (for which milk is a main ingredient), and according to the New York Times, dairy prices have increased while some stores limit purchases of dairy products (and toilet paper) to discourage household stockpiling. The quagmire has opened doors to services like Manhattan Milk. “People aren’t as interested trendy oat milk lattes right now,” Acosta tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “They want essentials to feed their families.”

According to The Smithsonian Magazine, in the 1920s, milkmen delivered the product to most American families, however, the invention of electric refrigeration, supermarkets, the expansion of the automobile industry and suburbanization slowly replaced the need for fresh, daily deliveries, painting the milkman and his bowtie as a national treasure.

The surge in business has been “overwhelming” for Mitchell Moses, the owner of “Mitch the Milkman” who has served Long Island, New York families for nearly a decade. “Since this morning, I’ve gotten 100 calls, 94 emails, 25 voicemails and 30 texts,” Moses, 61, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Pre-coronavirus pandemic, the bulk of Moses’s award-winning business came from office buildings, corporations and firehouses. Now, his business spiked by 600 percent as people are looking for available food delivery service options. Moses has been sitting behind a desk frantically filling orders while his nephew works 12-hour shifts delivering plastic-and-glass containers of cream-topped milk and other dairy products.

Brian Gronski, a former farmer in Wisconsin and the co-owner of Farmers Best Home Delivery in De Pere, lost 30 percent of his commercial clients, which included restaurants and schools, as the pandemic spread. However, by late March, his milk delivery orders increased by 50 percent, putting his two drivers and their “old-fashioned” insulated milk trucks to work. “We know some people will only be with us during the coronavirus,” he says, “but we’re hoping they’ll recognize the quality of our food.”

Farms in Maryland and New Jersey are busier than ever and in Pennsylvania, one farmer described newfound interest as “a tidal wave.”

In Storrs, Connecticut, Jason Stearns of Mountain Dairy says his family-run business has resurrected home milk deliveries – which had ended in 2012 – after the pandemic began. During the first 24 hours of making home delivery available again, Mountain Dairy fielded 24 milk inquiries and by Friday, seven red-and-white vintage-looking trucks were juggling 500 deliveries. “My niece worked until 3 a.m. yesterday,” Stearns tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We have customers calling from Rhode Island, who we’ve had to turn down.”

The charismatic and classic appeal of the milkman is not lost on Acosta, a former personal trainer who recently told the New York Post that some customers are flirtatious. When that happens, he says, “I keep my head down and make my deliveries.”

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.

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