Milk - Bulk!
Milk procurement is probably one of the areas where you may not have too many questions or concerns. For some of you there may only be one dairy supplier. This is not an uncommon situation depending on your geographic location. What we want to discuss here is bulk milk service.
This method is only used in a handful of districts that we are aware of, but it is a common feature in many institutional service environments like colleges and hospitals. The production of bulk milk units is common in the dairy industry. It is an option that is both cost effective and has a large environmental benefit (less packaging) that is very attractive to districts that may be establishing protocols for sustainable environmental practices or even have an active “green schools” initiative like Cincinnati Public Schools in Ohio.
The other advantage to bulk milk service, as opposed to cartons or plastic bottles, is that the milk tastes better and is colder. Students love ice-cold milk and they also love self-service. In addition, this option allows the district to consider serving organic milk, which many parents are prioritizing at home. Organic bulk milk in some markets is competitive with conventional carton milk per 8-ounce cost. The primary reason that the cost of bulk milk is lower for the district is that students serve themselves what they will drink instead of taking a container that they may only drink 4 ounces from and then throw away the rest.
You might ask: “is it allowable for a student not to take 8 ounces?” Yes, it is—provided that the student has a complete meal at the point when they serve themselves milk. If they do not have a complete meal, the staff person working the POS must make sure that the students serve themselves a full cup.
Other considerations for bulk milk service include the dispenser and cups. The dispensing units are usually under $3,000 for a two-spout dispenser, but there are milk distributors that will provide a dispenser as part of their service. Reusable cups are the preferred serving method with bulk service, but it is still a cost effective option when done with disposable cups—though the environmental impact savings are lost. Either way, the cup must be 9 ounces to ensure that the student can serve themselves 8 ounces and have room at the top to prevent spills.
Spills? Remarkably spills are not an issue, even with younger grades. You will need to adjust the counter height for the elementary students, but with the proper set up they will be very excited to serve themselves.
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