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Program brings dairy to area students

Members of the the Medford FFA, with the help of the local business community, are doing their part to show their support of Wisconsin dairy producers and help area families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With school being closed due to the pandemic and the governor’s Safer at Home order, Medford Area Public Schools has been providing students who signed up for the program with breakfasts and lunches each school day. The meals are prepared by A’viands and delivered by school staff each weekday.

According to district agriculture teacher Lisa Kopp, she and the FFA offi cers were looking at ways they could help promote agriculture especially after media reports of decreased demand resulting in milk dumping in other dairyproducing areas. Kopp noted she was contacted by school staff member Mark Berglund with the idea of getting more dairy products into people’s homes. She and the FFA members contacted a number of area banks and other businesses who jumped on the idea and helped cover the cost of purchasing 500 gallons of Kemps milk through Medford County Market. Along with the milk, families will receive 500 blocks of North Country Cheese, and 1,000 bags of Crystal Farms shredded cheese. The dairy products will be distributed this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to the 500 families that are taking part in the district’s food program through either pick up or delivery.

In addition, the students will receive dairy educational materials including worksheets and activities such as instructions on making homemade ice cream.

“We are all trying to help out,” Kopp said, of the effort to help promote dairy and get food to area families.

Kopp noted that the food supply network is complex with some areas seeing shortages while others, such as here in Taylor County, not having those issues. She noted that on average the Medford school district goes through about 10,000 cartons of milk each week during the school year. With the food program offering meals to area students during the time off, the district is actually slightly ahead with milk usage.

“[Medford students] are consuming really close to the same amount, if not more than what they normally do,” she said.

Kopp noted that other areas of the country are seeing different situations and depending on their supply chains can see more or less demand. This impacts all products, not just dairy. For example, the supply chain that provides dairy products or produce to consumers at the grocery store is likely not the same as the one that provides those items to a restaurant or school.

Business sponsors for the dairy to students program included AbbyBank, Nicolet National Bank, Prevail Bank, Forward Bank and the Medford Cooperative.