American Dairy Association North East is helping local school districts address the shortage of paper-based milk cartons, the primary packaging for school milk, which is expected to last through the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

“When the dairy industry began experiencing a nationwide milk carton shortage last fall, especially here in the Northeast, we sprang into action to help our school districts address the challenges,” said ADA North East CEO John Chrisman. “Ensuring students have access to fresh, cold milk is a top priority for dairy checkoff.”

In October 2023, the shortage came after a key manufacturer of the paper cartons closed one of its primary manufacturing facilities. The shut down decreased the supply of milk cartons available to meet the demand for school milk.

In response, ADA North East quickly rallied to keep milk flow going in schools by offering innovative solutions to help school districts find ways to continue uninterrupted milk service for all students; sharing the latest information and guidance from USDA and state education and agriculture departments; and developing a new grant to support milk service efforts – the “Milk Carton Shortage Grant.”

All eligible schools that experienced milk carton shortages could apply for the grant with each school eligible for up to $1,000 to put toward insulated breakfast bags, milk dispensers, cups and lids, or milk coolers or other refrigeration units. More than 400 schools applied for the grant, and at least 55 grants have been approved.

Fortunately, while not quite back to the original volume, the supply of cartons is increasing since the manufacturer boosted output from other facilities.

For more information about ADA North East’s efforts to help schools cope with the milk carton shortage, click here.