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WCPS Gets Grant Money to Fund Transition to Plastic Milk Bottles in School Cafeterias

HAGERSTOWN, MD (February 5, 2009) - Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) cafeterias have begun the transition from serving milk in the traditional paper cartons to plastic bottles this week. The Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association (MDA) provided a grant of $360,000 to help offset the additional cost of the bottles over the next two years and provide additional funding for infrastructure improvements sought by the WCPS Food and Nutrition Services office. MDA is also supplying recycling containers for the proper disposal of the new bottles.

A significant part of the improvements involves the purchase of reusable compartment trays for the elementary and middle schools. Currently, food items are placed on washable plates, or disposable paper or styrofoam trays or plates. Using one washable tray while eliminating multiple washable items and paper and styrofoam disposables will reduce waste, expenses for disposables and energy costs. Trays and plates now used in the elementary and middle schools will be moved to the high schools to eliminate some of the paper consumables used in those cafeterias.

Jeffrey Proulx, supervisor of Food and Nutrition Services, says a portion of the grant money will be used to upgrade training materials and technology hardware, too. “The Dairy Association has been a tremendous partner on this grant. Although there are cost and environmental benefits to this program, the underlying reason for this change is nutrition.”

Medical research concludes that many children and teens are deficient in vitamin D and calcium. Milk is a primary source of these nutrients. Studies from the Dairy Association have shown that children consume more milk when it is available in plastic bottles as compared to cardboard cartons.

Early returns from the Food and Nutrition Services department show first week sales of milk are increasing by 100% in some parts of the county.

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