Dairy production facility closures impact Alabama schools
Special to the Enquirer
The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) is aware of the upcoming closure of the Borden Dairy production facilities in Dothan, Ala. and Hattiesburg, Miss. on Sept. 30 and the effect it will have on school milk contracts. Borden Dairy packages 8 oz. cartons of milk for schools, so while the packaging will be limited, the supply of milk produced by dairy farmers is still available.
The Borden Dairy closure will impact more than 100 public school districts, charter schools and government agencies throughout the state of Alabama who participate in the National School Lunch Program. This correlates to more than 736,000 half pint cartons of wholesome milk served to more than 422,000 students each week.
Commissioner Rick Pate and his staff are working closely with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) Child Nutrition Program and the Dairy Alliance to secure suppliers to provide milk to Alabama’s school children.
“Through our Farm to School program, ADAI has a strong working relationship with Alabama’s Child Nutrition directors,” Commissioner Pate said. “As soon as we learned of the plant closures, my staff began consulting with all parties to find a solution to this temporary milk disruption issue.”
The ALSDE Child Nutrition Program is currently working with vendors on the statewide procurement bid to possibly provide an alternative shelf stable milk as a statewide purchasing bid line. Shelf stable milk is pasteurized at a higher temperature and therefore, no refrigeration is required.
“Shelf stable milk is projected to arrive at our north Alabama supplier the week of Sept. 5,” said Angelice Lowe, ALSDE Child Nutrition Programs Director. “ALSDE Child Nutrition Program directors are also working with The Dairy Alliance to try and locate dairy producers who may be available to provide milk in their area.”
All parties involved are working together to resolve the 8 oz. milk carton availability issue for Alabama school children.