Despite Wisconsin's nationally recognized status as the dairy state, the Baraboo School District has decided to end its practice of providing milk with students' morning snack this year.
While many parents pay 30 cents for the daily dairy offering, school officials decided to end the program due to concerns the state might eliminate the Wisconsin School Day Milk Program, which helps pay for the cost of milk for students from poor families, said Molly Fitzgerald, director of elementary programming and principal at Gordon L. Willson Elementary School. And even with the support from the state program, students who receive free milk through the free and reduced lunch program cost the district about $10,400 for free milk with snacks last year.
The district instead plans to encourage students to drink water with their morning snacks.
Baraboo resident Chris Hamm stated in an email to the News Republic that he had just learned milk no longer would be provided with snacks at Al Behrman Elementary School, where his son attends. Hamm said school officials explained to him that the cost was one of the reasons for the change.
"We paid for every carton my son drank, so what money are they talking about?" he asked.
Fitzgerald said the possible elimination of funding for part of the program could have created an unfair system.
"We didn't want to create a situation where children whose families could afford milk break and those families would not be able to contribute to providing a milk break would be left out," Fitzgerald said.
The district's Wellness Committee reviewed the issue and decided students should be encouraged to drink more water during the day, Fitzgerald said. It is a better choice rather than milk or juices, which have a high sugar content. Children still may have fat-free or low-fat white or chocolate milk at breakfast and lunch, she said.
"Just looking at the larger picture, the impact on the kids, on the school day and on the budget, we felt discontinuing the program for the (20)11-12 school year was the best decision we could make at the time, Fitzgerald said. "Sometimes change is difficult, but we wanted to keep the children's best interests in mind. We felt this was just the best decision for the Baraboo schools," she said.
Fitzgerald said parents with concerns about this or other issues may contact her via email at mfitzgerald@Barabooschools.net.
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