ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The milk carton shortage is poised to be an ongoing issue, impacting not just schools in Rochester, but nursing homes and jails, too.
This started with the Rochester City School district saying students will not get milk, but instead students will be offered juice.
The issue, a shortage of half-pint cartons for individual milk packaging. So, there isn’t a milk shortage problem but issues getting milk to consumers because of supply chain issues.
The solution for some may be getting pint sized milk cartons and pouring them into cups, though that may pose an issue for younger children. But this doesn’t only impact institutions that serve milk, it also affects dairy farmers and cows.
“As a dairy farmer it’s concerning to hear that there’s any issues getting our product in front of consumers,” said Kendra Lamb, a Dairy Farmer in Western NY. “Because our cows obviously do continue producing milk year round. And so the demand piece is important to that.”
One potential issue is getting milk out of the door and delivered.
“Because our product is quite perishable, certainly, any reduced demand would be a concern for us. But we’re hopeful that our cooperatives are going to be able to work with the cafeterias, the hospitals, the nursing homes, and prisons to be able to find another way to provide the wholesome milk to the people who need it,” Lamb said.
Though, Lamb is hopeful that this will be a short-term problem that will resolve without impacting dairy farms any more than it already has.
In an email the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said that jails and prisons will be ordering larger cartons of milk and serving them to inmates in cups for the time being.
The Northeast Dairy Producers Association released a statement Wednesday, saying:
“The recent announcement of the shortage of individual milk cartons could have impacts on school cafeterias across the nation. The bottleneck is due to a packaging materials shortage that is limiting the availability of cartons. To be clear, this is strictly a packaging issue and not a milk supply issue. The work of family dairy farms and the supply of locally produced milk remains strong and uninterrupted in New York State.
“Dairy processors are working diligently with industry partners to find alternative solutions for serving fresh nutritious milk in schools as well as other institutions like hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons including pouring milk from gallon jugs as well as exploring the possibility of installing milk dispensers. We encourage school food service directors to contact their dairy distributors to strategize a milk delivery system that works best for their district until this packaging issue is resolved.”