January 26, 2023 at 4:49 p.m.
The school district in Upsala, which has all grades in one building, made the switch to a bulk milk dispenser Oct. 1, 2022.
Alice Westrich and her team of lunch staff – Lisa Yurczyk, Jackie Wolbeck and Sandy Boeckermann – led the effort toward the transition.
“The kids were very excited,” Westrich said. “Our administration has been super supportive.”
The students, faculty and staff said they immediately noticed the difference in the taste of the milk.
“They let us know right away they like it better,” Westrich said. “The kids like that the milk is at the right temperature. It’s really good and cold.”
“Even the teachers commented on how they like it better,” she said.
Yurczyk is in charge of dishwashing and was concerned about how much more work it would be to wash all the cups instead of discarding cartons.
“I haven’t even noticed a difference,” Yurczyk said.
The kids take a cup when going through the line at lunch or at snack time and fill it up themselves. Once they are done, they put their cup in a tray, which lunch staff then picks up and brings to the dishwasher.
“The kids love that they can push the lever and fill their own cup,” Westrich said.
The process of getting the bulk milk dispenser to the school began last spring. The lunch staff said they noticed milk consumption decreasing during the previous school year and were concerned about the health impact on students.
“Our current cooler for the milk was keeping the milk too cold, and it would freeze,” Westrich said. “We tried adjusting the temperature, but it didn’t make a difference. So, we would need to replace our cooler or do something different.”
At the time, students were opting for water over milk. A co-worker of Westrich’s mentioned she heard of another school that had switched to bulk milk dispensers.
“I did some research and found a grant from Midwest Dairy,” Westrich said.
Westrich was awarded a grant so Upsala Area Schools could add a bulk milk dispenser.
“We are very grateful to Midwest Dairy for that grant,” Westrich said.
The move has also significantly decreased the amount of garbage at lunch and snack time.
“It was definitely a huge cost savings and time savings,” Westrich said.
With the bulk milk, lunch staff no longer have to check dates on milk cartons and have saved 100 gallons per day of trash. Milk consumption has increased by 2 gallons per day, and the school is saving an average of 15% on cost due to the fact they are buying their milk in bulk.
Upsala Area School gets its milk from Kemps and serves skim chocolate and 1% milk with the school breakfast, lunch and snack time. The milk comes in 5-gallon bags, which the lunch staff change out as needed.
“There really isn’t a lot of waste,” Westrich said.
Lunch staff said they were impressed by how well the kids took to the change. They also said there are hardly any spills and very little milk dumped. The staff keeps a pail in the cafeteria for kids to pour out any milk they did not drink. Westrich and her team said they have been surprised by the lack of waste.
“I think we were all afraid about how it would go, but it’s only been good,” Westrich said. “It’s well worth it.”
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