A Marlborough milk delivery business has re-invented itself after being forced to close under coronavirus lockdown.
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SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF Mel Marshall said her priority had always been to get products to people and keep them out of the supermarket.

While Milk and More was initially not permitted to operate under lockdown, it later got the go ahead to resume operation. But the owners didn’t want to take the risk of transmitting the virus through delivery and pickup and decided to close their Blenheim service.

Mel Marshall, who previously managed Milk and More in Marlborough, was devastated delivery would not continue, first due to the lockdown’s restrictions and then her company’s concerns.

“I was so against shutting down Milk and More – it was just against everything I believed in to not support the community in their delivery,” Marshall said.

“There was a lot of disappointed people and it literally broke my heart that we couldn’t do it. That’s why I’ve pursued this outside of Milk and More.”

Cutting out the middle-man, Marshall went straight to the milk suppliers Oaklands, struck up a deal, and has started a new company; Marlborough Oaklands Milk.

“I couldn’t not bring the products to people, I was getting emails and phone calls everyday from people saying ‘we only go out to get milk’ and it was quite heartbreaking for me,” she said.

Milk and More had concerns the virus could be spread through delivery and pickup, but Marshall believed it would actually keep people safer.

Many of their deliveries in Marlborough were to elderly people, and she hoped by keeping them out of public places they were less at risk of infection.

“Pre-lockdown we were delivering to just over 1800, so that’s a lot of people needing to go to the supermarket weekly for their milk,” she said.

“So if we can keep them out of the supermarket, we’re doing a great thing.”

When lockdown was announced, Marshall had been inundated with calls and emails from regulars who wanted to be sure they could still have milk delivered.

“We had people from Christchurch that were ringing up and getting their elderly parents that were over 70 here in Blenheim a milk order,” she said.

“And we obviously couldn’t deliver to them with the restrictions that we had and now we can.”

There would also be strict hygiene requirements to avoid the risk of contamination, with two drivers (within the same bubble) to handle deliveries and pickups separately.

“The empties will be separate in the truck on the milk so there’s absolutely no contamination of any sort,” she said.

“We’ve got the Civil Defence letter to prove that our safety restrictions are completely up to date.”

Marlborough Oaklands Milk hoped to deliver from Wednesday and would have the same products and drivers as Milk and More.

“It’s been a real huge rollercoaster but my main priority, as it’s always been, is trying to get this product to the customers to try and keep them out of the supermarkets.”

People in the Marlborough region could get in touch via the Marlborough Oaklands Milk Facebook page, or by emailing marlborough@oaklandsmilk.co.nz

The Marlborough Express

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