State’s Schools Brace For Milk Carton Shortage

( – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a memo in October advising schools in several states to have a backup plan for providing milk to students. Milk is readily available, but Pactiv Evergreen, which manufactures the cartons, is facing “significantly higher than projected demand.”

International Dairy Foods spokesperson, Matt Herrick, said that the shortage is preventing the packaging company from fulfilling orders from schools. The company also manufactures milk cartons that are distributed in prisons, hospitals, and nursing homes. The manufacturer also makes cartons for a variety of juices that are served in schools and other facilities.

The USDA memo said that “multiple states” would be affected by the shortage, but states like New York, California, Washington, and Pennsylvania are taking proactive measures. School officials in California suggested using dry milk or offering limited choices. They also suggested using a milk dispenser and cups until a plentiful supply is available again. School officials in Clarence, New York, will offer bottled water or small cups of milk if they run out of cartons. The shortage of chocolate milk cartons has already affected one school district in Lake Stevens, Washington. Communications director Jayme Taylor said that she has only heard students complain about not having chocolate milk as an option for breakfast and lunch.

Officials from a school district in Everett Washington informed parents about the carton shortage, cautioning that milk could be in limited supply for the next several months. The USDA requires schools to provide milk to students but wrote in its memo that if other alternatives are not available, schools could stop serving milk until the issue is resolved. Herrick said other companies that offer similar packages are coordinating with milk suppliers to get more milk to students. He believes that the substitutions could provide a marked improvement over the next several weeks, which should be noticeable for schools. However, he said that the shortage may not be fully resolved until early next year.

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