An extended shortage of materials used to make school milk cartons is affecting dairy suppliers and school district’s nationwide, including Bulloch County Schools.
“We currently have milk for students for breakfast and lunch,” said Desiree Yaeger, the school district’s director of school nutrition. “Worst case scenario is that students may not have their favorite milk of choice like chocolate. They may be offered our 1% unflavored milk supply instead.”
Milk production from dairy suppliers is not the issue, but instead a supply chain shortage of the paper and plastic materials used to make milk cartons. While a definite date that the shortage will end is not known, it is expected to last through early 2024. The upcoming holiday season for the nation’s schools may provide time to recover. Bulloch County Schools will be closed for a week in November and two weeks in December.
Bulloch County’s School Nutrition Department received notice from its milk supplier on November 6, that the school district will only receive 1% unflavored milk starting November 8, and to adjust future orders. The district normally purchases 115,000 total cartons of milk per month, including whole and chocolate milk, which are popular with students.
School meal nutritional standards are governed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service. While the USDA is aware of the issue, it has reiterated that school districts are expected to still meet milk requirements for students to the greatest extent possible. However, the USDA does consider supply chain disruptions that limit the available varieties of milk a temporary emergency condition which may allow flexibility for what children are served to replace the usual milk choices they are offered.
While the school district awaits further information from the USDA and its suppliers, its school nutrition team has acted swiftly to order 1% half-pint cartons to supplement student school lunches. If supply chain issues continue, the department will consider the use of alternate milk choices such as pre-poured portions from gallons or shelf stable milk.
Schools will not sell extra milk during this shortage. Students who bring their lunch may purchase one milk.
Families can help support schools and students during this time by talking with their child about their willingness to accept any temporary choices. The community’s cooperation and patience with school nutrition staff is appreciated.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Desiree Yaeger at 912.212.8620 or by email.
Bulloch Co Schools