By Dave Ongie, News Editor
A class of students at Lake Ridge Elementary School walked single file toward a group of cows resting in a shady spot on their campus last Friday morning.
Veronica, a 5-year-old cow, let out a loud “moo” as the students approached, giving a few unsuspecting students a startle that was followed quickly by a smattering of nervous giggles. One by one, the students filed by and petted Veronica, putting them face to face with a cow that produces milk, a beverage many of them drink in the cafeteria each day.
Last week’s event coincided with the unveiling of a new milk dispenser in the Lake Ridge cafeteria, which was made possible by a $4,000 grant from the Dairy Alliance. The new dispenser will allow the school to eliminate milk cartons, and therefore eliminate waste. Students who drank milk in the cafeteria last Friday did so from washable plastic cups they filled up at the dispenser.
Karen McGahey, the food service director for Johnson City Schools, said she hoped the hands-on experience with the cows would help the students understand the importance of not wasting milk.
“Milk is a healthy beverage and a great part of our school meals program, but we’re also concerned with the amount of food waste there is,” McGahey said. “By changing from cartons to a clear glass, we’re hoping students will learn to take the amount of milk they plan to drink.”
McGahey said another positive offshoot of the new milk dispenser is the elimination of the milk cartons that used to be discarded in droves on a daily basis.
“We have been talking about how we can conserve as students,” said Lake Ridge principal Dr. Renee Wood. “We’re going to have lots to talk about as we use the milk dispenser every day from this point on.”