On Jan. 9 while attending the Pennsylvania Farm Show, current Pennsylvania Dairy Princess Ashley Mohn started a movement on Facebook that soon caught on with her state's dairy industry.

Gwin emily
Former Editor / Progressive Dairy

Mohn began the #realdealchallenge, where she posted a photo of herself with a serving of dairy and nominated three others to do the same. The other half of the challenge was to donate to the "Fill a Glass with Hope" campaign. The campaign supports Central Pennsylvania Food Bank's milk program, where each dollar donated equates to eight servings of milk provided to needy families.

If the premise sounds familiar, it's because Mohn was inspired by the ALS ice bucket challenge of 2014. In that viral social media challenge, participants dumped a bucket of ice water over their heads and nominated others to do the same. The goal was to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and to raise funds for the ALS Association.

Mohn's initial three nominees each participated and nominated others. Many others jumped on board, including county dairy princesses, FFA members and even Pennsylvania politicians.

Mohn chose the Fill a Glass with Hope campaign because there was an in-person component happening at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. The Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association set out two large milk cans for donations to the food bank, and volunteers were on hand to answer questions about the campaign.


Participants of the #realdealchallenge who were also attending the PA Farm Show could donate in person, while those not at the show could donate online.

Mohn kept tabs on mentions of the #realdealchallenge hashtag through a website called #tagboard. By the end of the farm show, her hashtag had reached about 100 public posts, influencing hundreds of social media users across the state. Mohn says some challenge participants were particularly creative with their photos.

"One of my favorite #realdealchallenge posts came from Cassandra Blickley, the Chester County dairy princess. She posted a photo of herself feeding a calf a bottle while she was drinking a bottle of milk at the same time," she says. "I thought that was cool. It really pulls the elements of dairy farming and milk consumption all together."

The Fill a Glass with Hope campaign raised more than $53,000 during the show. Corporate sponsors, including Weis Markets and Giant Food Stores, contributed $42,000, while the rest of the funds came from in-person donations.

About $1,000 was raised online during the show, according to Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Executive Director Joe Arthur.

"We're committed to raising $100,000 to provide fresh, wholesome milk for our neighbors in need," says the food bank's director of development, Jennifer Powell.

In her original post, Mohn was sure to point out that funds could also go to The Great American Milk Drive, so there's no reason why the #realdealchallenge should be limited to Pennsylvania. Mohn encourages all dairy enthusiasts to post a photo with their favorite dairy product, donate to the milk drive and nominate others to do the same.

We've provided some proposed text for you to get started. Leave a comment if you're starting a #realdealchallenge in your state! PD

I am supporting the #realdealchallenge with my favorite serving of dairy (fill in with your favorite dairy product). I'm also donating to The Great American Milk Drive to provide milk for hungry families: http://milklife.com/give. I nominate (Name 1), (Name 2) and (Name 3) to complete the challenge.

P.S. Be sure to tag the names of the people you're nominating so that a link appears to their social media page. This will help ensure that they see the notification and that their followers see the post too.

This photo kicked off the #realdealchallenge, which led to much dairy industry involvement. Photo provided by Ashley Mohn.