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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Dairy Promotions: Everyone's Business

Dairy Pipeline: October 2003

Andy Overbay
Dairy Science Extension Agent,
Southwest Virginia
(276) 223-6040

"Just let me produce." This mentality has long been the standard in American Agriculture, and with good reason. No agricultural producers in the world match the resourcefulness and efficiency of our nation's producers. Unfortunately, that mindset, combined with a disdain for marketing and selling our wares, has helped to create the monster that may consume us. We must all focus on the importance of selling not only our dairy products but also the overall image of the dairy industry to the consumer.

How many businesses do you shop at regularly that neglect you as a customer? We must think of every consumer as our customer or as a potential customer. A good place to start building our customer base is at the local school building. By federal mandate, no school lunch or breakfast can be reimbursed to the school system unless that meal is accompanied by an 8 ounce serving of milk. Also, initiatives across the nation direct schools to remove unhealthy snacks from school vending machines and replace them with healthy alternatives. Milk must be one of those alternatives.

According to Janet Grubb, Virginia's SUDIA Representative and a registered dietitian, a limited number of grants are available to help offset the costs of placing a milk vending machine in your local school. To be successful in placing a machine, you should identify three key persons or groups in your school.

First, it is recommended that you approach the principal with your idea and get their support for your project. Next, contact the Food Service Director for your school. They will be instrumental in helping you utilized resources already in place to make the machine more useable. Finally, you should visit with the milk provider for the school and get their support and help with supplying milk for the machine.

A consideration should be the rotation of stock in the machine so that there is always fresh milk in the machine. You may want to enlist the assistance of an FFA chapter, band or sports group to help check the machine and keep it up to date.

We must sell ourselves because we have counted too long on our products selling themselves. I urge you to explore the possibility of a vending milk vending machine. Please contact Janet at (800) 845-6112 or contact me directly at (276) 223-2542.

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