Here's why a milk carton shortage is stirring up issues for schools

A nationwide shortage of milk cartons is causing school cafeterias to pivot and find alternatives, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

On Oct. 25, the USDA released a memo to child nutrition directors, saying that the issue is not the shortage of the milk itself, but the cardboard cartons used to package and serve it. As a result, the USDA may consider allowing schools to serve meals without milk — something that is required by the USDA.  Baguette Paper Bag


“Although Program operators are expected to meet the fluid milk requirements to the greatest extent possible, supply chain disruptions, including disruptions that limit milk variety or affect serving size, would be considered a temporary emergency condition for purposes of this flexibility,” the memo said.

The USDA says that schools in multiple states are experiencing milk supply chain challenges related to packaging issues. This would include New York, Pennsylvania, California and Washington state.

School districts are adjusting in various ways across the country.

In California, state education officials have recommended schools be flexible with how they offer milk to kids, including limiting milk choices.

In New York, schools impacted by the shortage are encouraged to pour milk from large containers into individual cups. 

Several other school districts have reported that they expect the milk carton shortage to last into January. 

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