Hardworking Hawaii: Big Island dairy farmer saves Meadow Gold, opens new facility in Waipahu

Hardworking Hawaii

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Jimmy Casamina has been delivering milk for Meadow Gold Dairies to grocery stores across Oahu for the past 23 years.

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“I offload the truck and I bring it to the dairy box, get in there, while watching the temperature at all times to keep the quality of the product,” Casamina said about his day-to-day duties as a driver for the company.

Casamina’s job is hard work, but he loves it. He gets in at 1 a.m. and works 10- to 12-hour shifts, six days a week.

It is dedicated employees like Casamina that have been getting fresh milk and Pog to the people of Hawaii for over 120 years.

Meadow Gold started in 1897.

It was originally called the Dairymen’s Association, which was a group of a seven island dairies.

The company has had two mainland owners over the years. Most recently, Dean Foods, which declared bankruptcy in 2019.

Meadow Gold was up for sale by the time COVID-19 hit the islands and the iconic Honolulu plant was set to close.

“I had a lot of anxiety,” Casamina said, reflecting on when he thought he would no longer have a job. “Every time I thought about it, I had a lot of anxiety, but I kept faith. For some reason in my gut, I had a feeling that someone was going to buy it because I had faith in the brand.”

Casamina’s gut was right.

Big Island dairyman Bahman Sadeghi bought the company at the last minute.

“Without Meadow Gold, you’re losing the whole dairy industry,” Sadeghi said about why he decided to save the company. “If you don’t have the processing operation, you cant have the farm,” he explained.

Sadeghi’s motivation to keep the local dairy industry alive is personal. His goal is to someday make Hawaii’s dairy industry 100% self-sufficient.

“I raised my family on Meadow Gold, selling milk to Meadow Gold,” Sadeghi told KHON2.

While the previous owner closed the Honolulu facility, Sadeghi opened up a new one in Waipahu and kept long-time employees like Casamina working throughout the pandemic.

“Very blessed and thankful, and I take pride in the fact that were growing now,” Casamina said.

The next time you buy a carton of milk, know that you’re supporting locals like Casamina.

“Because it’s made locally from local families,” Casamina said. “Meadow Gold is local.”

Sadeghi said the company is also working on a number of products including almond, oat and mac-nut milk, which may launch in the coming months.

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