Milk Machine


Joss Jones

The new Milk Machine is located inbetween lunch lines in the cafeteria.

Joss Jones, Reporter/Photographer

After working hard to persevere through the tribulations of what came to be normal, we are getting back to what this school has once known. This school year, our cafeteria staff kicked Covid to the curb and brought in something superb, a brand new milk machine.

During the trying times of the pandemic our cafeteria staff worked diligently to be able to provide individualized, made to order meals to over 800 students every day. This was not an easy task. They wanted to make sure they maintained the variety of meal options and high quality meals that they always had. Staff had to learn to cook, package, and bag each individual meal. They also had to organize lunches in carts to transport into classrooms in a timely manner. This required a lot of planning, organization and hard work to get it done each day.

Now that we are back in the cafeteria, Director of School Nutrition Services, Randy Herman is ecstatic. The cafeteria staffers she works with are equally thrilled and are ready to get back to forming connections with the students they serve.

“I am so excited to have students back in our cafeterias,” Herman said. “The best part of the work we do is being able to build relationships with our students. My staff and I have missed that interaction the last couple of years.”

Herman works closely with the National Dairy Alliance and became aware of their milk dispenser program a couple years ago, but the idea was halted and forgotten in honor of safety. Recently when she noted that cafeteria service was coming back, Herman got all her ducks in a row to ensure we’d start the year off with the new milk machine. She asked the cafeteria manager to attend a workshop that exemplified the use of the machine and both agreed it would be a great addition to our high school meal service. Herman applied for a grant through the Dairy Alliance, purchased the machine, and it currently sits in our cafe being blissfully used by students.

“My first reaction to the milk machine was surprising,” sophomore Layla Morris said. “Everyone around me seemed to have liked the milk machine because it was reusable.” 

The renowned milk machine came to our school as both an economic and conservative decision. The bulk milk costs slightly less per serving. It reduces the amount of trash generated from empty milk cartons. It also helps reduce food waste as students are able to take as much or as little as they want, meaning they are drinking more and throwing less away. Although the milk machine came as an economic and conservative decision, it also came as a decision for what Herman and our cafeteria staffers value most: nutrition. The body’s need for calcium is the highest during teenage years. Not getting enough calcium during this time could affect bone strength later in life. 

“The machine is helping to increase milk consumption by allowing those who choose to, to be able to drink as much as they would like,” Herman said.  “I have seen many students come back for a second, or even third glass of milk. The feedback from students has been very positive.”

As one drinks the milk from the machine, they may find themselves thinking that the milk tastes different or is better quality than milk in cartons. However it is actually the same high quality of milk offered in the cartons, the difference in taste is because of the packaging. 

“This milk comes to us in 5 gallon bags, which are loaded into the dispenser,” Herman said. “The bagged milk is able to stay colder, which makes it taste better. It also does not go through the packaging process of being sealed in cartons. Sometimes carton milk can take on the taste or smell of the paper carton.”

Often, the future can be hard to tell. This is something many can testify to, especially after emerging from the pandemic that made the strange become regular and normal. Though as of right now, students should continue to take advantage of the machine and its refill availability. 

“It is my plan for the milk dispenser to stay,” Herman said. “As of right now, I don’t see any reason why it would not.” 

Not all students enjoy everything the cafeteria has to offer. Although, through good communication and reaching out, there are potential ways to see more of what they enjoy in the lunch lines and on their trays.

“I am always looking for new menu items and ideas and I love hearing from students,” Herman said. 

If there is anything you or your classmates would like to see in the cafeteria, don’t hesitate to reach out to Herman via email at [email protected].