Dairy farmers give equipment for school milk sales, drinking

Friday, June 19, 2009

More than $12,000 worth of equipment to make milk available to students at four Marshall County schools was made available this spring through the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association.

SUDIA, which is in part funded by Tennessee dairy farmers, offers grants for milk merchandising equipment to schools that convert to plastic bottles, along with training aimed at improving the quality of milk at schools.

Marshall County High School, Cornersville High, Lewisburg Middle and Forrest schools received a total of six pieces of equipment for school milk. Studies have shown that milk sales and involvement in the school lunch and breakfast programs has increased anywhere from 10 to 25 percent in schools participating in the SUDIA program.

"This was a great opportunity for Marshall County Dairy Farmers to give back to their county," said Tony White a dairy farmer, county commissioner and the leaders of a new association of dairymen across the state. "As a dairy farmer, I'm proud to see our students drinking milk which will help them build strong bones and teeth."

June has been Dairy Month since 1937. This year's theme is "Fuel-up with Milk" to emphasize the importance of eating three servings of dairy products daily, and so the dairy farmers are now promoting milk in new bottles at school cafeterias.

"We've found that packaging can make a tremendous difference," SUDIA Dietician Joan Benton of Tennessee said recently. "The bottles are easier to open, easier to drink from and milk tastes better that way. Furthermore, students like the look.

"With all of these advantages," Benton said, "we've discovered that children will overwhelmingly choose milk over less nutritious beverages."

More information on this program is available on the Internet web site southeastdairy.org. SUDIA works with schools, health professionals, retailers, dairy producers and the public to promote dairy foods.