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Old-fashioned milkman makes rounds as US shoppers stay home


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MIDDLETOWN, Md. – The milk truck can be heard more than a block away, chugging along the narrow tree-lined streets of Washington’s historic Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Milkman Seth Burmeister is making the first of the day’s 150 home deliveries of milk, eggs and ice cream produced at South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, Maryland, some 60 miles away.

South Mountain Creamery says it saw an almost tenfold increase in new home delivery customers over a single weekend in late March when stay-at-home measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic started in the region. By mid-May the company had a wait list of 6,000 new households, it said.

“COVID kind of pushed people over that line, that ‘Hey, I’m going to have to try this’,” said the dairy’s CEO, Tony Brusco.

An extra advantage is the milk is delivered in glass bottles rather than single-use plastic jugs found in most grocery stores. The eggs come from cage-free chickens and the milk from grass-fed cows, according to the company’s website.

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South Mountain’s overall customer base doubled over four weeks after the initial surge in interest in late March, said Brusco, and they are still hiring more drivers and trucks.

Capitol Hill resident Sarah Henn has been ordering her milk from South Mountain for 14 years and says the realities of a post-COVID world mean home food delivery will likely be something more people will want.

“We certainly all know that nothing’s going back to normal in the next six, 12 months; that we’re going to be living differently,” Henn said. “And certainly that some of the things that we’re adopting now I’m sure will continue to become part of our lives as we move forward.”

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