Organizations implement equipment grant funding for locally sourced bulk milk.
BRIDGEWATER, VA, November 28, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — In a landmark effort to enhance the school milk experience for students, The Dairy Alliance, a nonprofit funded by dairy farmers in Southeast, and the Virginia State Dairymen’s Association (VSDA) have joined forces to offer equipment grant funding for school nutrition programs. The initiative assists schools with the transition to serve bulk milk sourced directly from local dairy farms, promoting both nutritional benefits and support for the local agricultural community.
The Dairy Alliance and VSDA funded and facilitated the acquisition of three-spout milk dispensers and essential accessories for selected schools. The Virginia Cattleman’s Association also provided funding to equip schools with additional accessories for program success. The partnership has proven to be a resounding success in the 2022-2023 school year.
“The adaptability of bulk milk processors turned challenges into triumphs. At The Dairy Alliance, it’s one of our missions to connect our local dairy farmers with consumers, so it was a win-win proposition,” said Geri Berdak, CEO of The Dairy Alliance. “By enriching and granting schools these sustainable avenues, we can educate and bring to life the appreciation of dairy as an essential ingredient to life.”
The partnership began in 2021 when The Dairy Alliance and VSDA awarded three schools in Bedford County with equipment grants to implement bulk milk dispensers. The success of these pilot schools led to the school nutrition director in Bedford County developing a plan to transition all the schools in her district to milk dispensers. By 2023, all nineteen schools in the county successfully transitioned to bulk milk dispensers impacting over 9,000 students and leading to a 24% increase in fluid milk ounces consumed by students daily.
“Introducing milk dispensers has truly revolutionized the way students experience their daily servings of milk,” said Mekenzie Panhans, Assistant Director, Sustainability and Industry Communications at The Dairy Alliance. “In addition, school systems have reported that by switching from cartons to bulk milk dispensers they have reduced milk packaging waste by 91% and reduced milk waste by 60%. With the recent nationwide cardboard shortages impacting carton milk, bulk milk dispensers are a great option for schools to continue to serve fresh local milk to their students.”
The success of this district-wide transition to bulk milk dispensers is being noticed by other school districts across the Southeast such as McMinn County Schools in Tennessee. The Dairy Alliance staff approached McMinn County with an opportunity to transition two schools to bulk milk dispensers to boost milk consumption, nutrition, and meal participation among high school students. Following the success of the two granted school systems, McMinn County purchased additional milk dispensers in 2023 supplying all nine schools in the district, making McMinn County a 100% milk dispenser district.
The Dairy Alliance continues to foster a community with sustainable, smart solutions, leading to positive improvements for dairy farmers and school systems.
For more information about The Dairy Alliance, visit https://thedairyalliance.com or follow them on Facebook or Instagram @TheDairyAlliance.
About The Dairy Alliance
The Dairy Alliance is a nonprofit funded by dairy farm families of the Southeast. We work diligently with dairy farmers, schools, sports teams, health professionals, local organizations, state leaders, the media, and the public to promote dairy foods and knowledge about the dairy industry. Our efforts center in eight states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
The Virginia State Dairymen’s Association
The Virginia State Dairymen’s Association was founded in 1907. The goal of the VSDA is to represent and promote the dairy industry in Virginia. The VSDA is a member-organization that spans the state of Virginia and represents its member’s views on a state and federal level. We are committed to ensuring a profitable and sustainable dairy industry here in Virginia.
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