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Moo-ving Towards Sustainability: The Bulk Milk Solution in Schools

Bulk Milk programs are a proven solution to reducing one of the top sources of packaging and liquid food waste in schools and come with cascading benefits—from fresher-tasting milk for students to long-term cost savings for schools. 

Picture this: Fifty Olympic-size swimming pools filled to the brim — not with water, but milk. Now imagine pouring each of these pools down the drain. That’s approximately how much milk is wasted every year in schools. 

Milk is not only a staple of school food programs, it is a USDA-required component. According to a World Wildlife Fund report, schools provide approximately 275 million half-pint carton servings of milk to students every school day. Roughly 32 cartons worth of liquid milk per student go to waste each year. The good news is we can rather simply reduce that to around 4.5 cartons worth of liquid milk per student — and ditch the carton entirely — simultaneously reducing packaging waste. 

The Chef Ann Foundation’s Bulk Milk equipment granting program is now in its second year of providing schools with the equipment, training, and resources needed to switch from serving milk in single-serve cartons or bottles to serving it in reusable cups using a bulk milk dispenser. Bulk Milk programs are a proven solution to reducing one of the top sources of packaging and liquid food waste in schools and come with cascading benefits—from fresher-tasting milk for students to long-term cost savings for schools. 

Thanks to initial funding from the Posner Foundation and the Life Time Foundation, 43 schools across the country received Bulk Milk grants in 2023 from the Chef Ann Foundation. Ithaca City School District in Tompkins County, New York was one of these recipients.

The Chef Ann Foundation’s Bulk Milk equipment granting program is now in its second year of providing schools with the equipment, training, and resources needed to switch from serving milk in single-serve cartons or bottles to serving it in reusable cups using a bulk milk dispenser. Bulk Milk programs are a proven solution to reducing one of the top sources of packaging and liquid food waste in schools and come with cascading benefits—from fresher-tasting milk for students to long-term cost savings for schools. 

Thanks to initial funding from the Posner Foundation and the Life Time Foundation, 43 schools across the country received Bulk Milk grants in 2023 from the Chef Ann Foundation. Ithaca City School District in Tompkins County, New York was one of these recipients.

“We applied for the Bulk Milk grant to reduce packaging waste as part of our effort to be more environmentally friendly,” said Ithaca School District Child Nutrition Director Beth Krause. 

While reducing packaging and liquid milk waste was the original goal, Krause also noted: “Bulk Milk has created excitement for the students, and they have said that the milk ‘tastes fresher.’” The fresh taste comes from more precise temperature control that is inherent to bulk milk dispensers.

When we asked Krause about what advice she’d give to schools considering making the switch to bulk, she shared that schools should consider how to allocate space for the bulk milk equipment and plan to train staff on how to operate, refill, and sanitize the machine. “By carefully planning and executing these operational adjustments, you can successfully integrate bulk milk machines into your facility while ensuring smooth operations and customer satisfaction,” said Krause. 

Now, thanks to the continued support of the Posner Foundation and new support from the Elevance Health Foundation, more schools will be awarded Bulk Milk grants this year. Schools nationwide have expressed interest in the program, and demand for grants is outpacing current funding levels, creating a unique opportunity to drive impact.  

“Chef Ann Foundation’s Bulk Milk program is a straightforward, coordinated opportunity for food waste reduction at the scale of an institutional food service level of a school while providing the added benefits of teaching kids about food waste reduction and supporting local farmers,” said Hana Uman, Program Officer at The Posner Foundation “We hope that with the success of this program, other funders will join us in supporting this unique opportunity to tackle food waste, educate children, and support our regional food systems.”

Now, thanks to the continued support of the Posner Foundation and new support from the Elevance Health Foundation, more schools will be awarded Bulk Milk grants this year. Schools nationwide have expressed interest in the program, and demand for grants is outpacing current funding levels, creating a unique opportunity to drive impact.  

“Chef Ann Foundation’s Bulk Milk program is a straightforward, coordinated opportunity for food waste reduction at the scale of an institutional food service level of a school while providing the added benefits of teaching kids about food waste reduction and supporting local farmers,” said Hana Uman, Program Officer at The Posner Foundation “We hope that with the success of this program, other funders will join us in supporting this unique opportunity to tackle food waste, educate children, and support our regional food systems.”


Get Involved

Schools: If you are a school interested in applying for a Bulk Milk grant package, you can review the requirements and apply. Applications are open until June 27, 2024. 

Supporters: If you want to make a difference in food waste, sustainability, and school food, Chef Ann Foundation’s Bulk Milk program is a turnkey solution that is in high demand. One Bulk Milk grant package includes nearly everything a school needs to transition away from serving milk in single-serve cartons or bottles. 

When schools serve milk in bulk, they can save 248 gallons of water and 30 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents per student annually. To support this program, contact Alison Friduss, Chef Ann Foundation Senior Director of Development, at alison.friduss@chefannfoundation.org for more information.

Get Involved

Schools: If you are a school interested in applying for a Bulk Milk grant package, you can review the requirements and apply. Applications are open until June 27, 2024. 

Supporters: If you want to make a difference in food waste, sustainability, and school food, Chef Ann Foundation’s Bulk Milk program is a turnkey solution that is in high demand. One Bulk Milk grant package includes nearly everything a school needs to transition away from serving milk in single-serve cartons or bottles. 

When schools serve milk in bulk, they can save 248 gallons of water and 30 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents per student annually. To support this program, contact Alison Friduss, Chef Ann Foundation Senior Director of Development, at alison.friduss@chefannfoundation.org for more information.

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