Pa. (WTAJ) — Got milk? You may have milk, but you’ll have to find a substitution if yours usually comes in a carton.
For years, milk has become an essential part of school meals, but a shortage of milk cartons could limit what schools receive for their students.
A source familiar with the matter claims that the shortage is because a major North American carton manufacturer is going through a series of changes with their facility and thus, cannot make their normal deliveries.
Shortages have the most impact on half-pint (8 oz) school milk cartons and the 4-ounce cartons that are used for juice.
Just last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released guidelines for allowing flexibilities for Child Nutrition Programs. It states that, “state agencies may allow program operators experiencing milk supply shortages to serve meals during an emergency period with an alternate form of fluid milk or without fluid milk.”
With supply chain disruptions, this would be considered a temporary emergency condition.
“We’re just requesting that families be patient. We’re going to do our best to make sure that students’ needs are met,” Susan Franks, the Director of Business Operations at the Altoona Area School District said.
Three dairies currently supply the Altoona Area School District. They have been notified by one of those dairies that their shipments are going to be decreased on Friday, impacting the school as soon as Monday.
The shortage is affecting not only schools, but dairy processors.
Galliker’s Dairy in Johnstown is also being impacted.
“On a weekly basis [we] produce about 1.3 million units of school and institutional milk. It’s had a very major impact that goes all the way back to our farmers as well. If we can’t take the milk, then that disrupts the industry throughout the supply chain,” Julia Galliker, the Executive Vice President said.
The Bald Eagle Area School District has already notified parents of the changes they will implement.
In a statement, they said, “To keep schools supplied with milk, our vendors will provide the schools with milk in half-gallon or gallon bulk containers. Self-serve stations will be made available to our Middle and High School student population along with cups for milk. t the Elementary level, students will get milk at their seats after they have moved through the cafeteria line and received their lunch.”
Thankfully, the shortage is only expected to last until the end of 2023, but manufacturers will keep their customers updated about carton availability.