Moo-ve over, cartons: How a cow is helping Lake Ridge Elementary reduce waste

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JOHNSON CITY, TENN. (WJHL) – Cartons are moo-ving out of Lake Ridge Elementary School as part of an effort to reduce waste.

Lake Ridge is the recipient of the Milk Alliance Grant, which will replace milk cartons with milk dispensers in the cafeteria.

The dispensers will help Lake Ridge Elementary School reduce waste from milk cartons and unused milk.

Students will fill reusable glasses with milk, which Johnson City Schools Food Services Supervisor Karen McGahey will help reduce unused milk.

“In school meals, we partner with both education and nutrition and agriculture so this grant marries those together,” she said of the dairy alliance grant.

McGahey said another goal is to help reduce waste created by milk cartons. She estimated the switch will save the school about 55,000 cartons this year.

The school welcomed some special guests to help teach students more about where their milk comes from. Saylor Farms brought dairy cattle Veronica and Buttercup, along with Buttercup’s one-day-old calf, Explorer.

Students meet Explorer, a one-day-old calf from Saylor Farms
Veronica, a five-year-old dairy cow from Saylor Farms, helps Lake Ridge Elementary Students understand the importance of not wasting milk.

Children donned in decorated cow masks interacted with the cattle and learned more about milk production.

Farmhands explained that Veronica, a five-year-old cow, is able to produce five-to-six gallons of milk per day, which fills just one bag of the milk that will be used in the new dispensers.

McGahey said she hopes the perspective will help children be more mindful when filling their milk glasses.

“We’re hoping that students will learn to take the amount of milk they plan to drink and reduce the amount of milk that’s wasted,” she said.

By switching to a dispenser system, school officials hope to reduce unused milk by 50 percent and become a United States Department of Agriculture/Environmental Protection Agency Food Waste Challenge School by reducing the solid waste generated from milk cartons by 75 percent this school year.

Faculty and staff at Lake Ridge Elementary School are udderly excited about the new milk dispensers.

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