OSHKOSH - The closure of a milk supplier has 40 Wisconsin school districts in limbo.
The Golden Guernsey Dairy processing plant in Waukesha shut down abruptly on Saturday.
That has school districts, including Oshkosh, scrambling to find a new supplier and there is more on the line than just a carton of milk for lunch.
Milk is a lunchtime staple in every school. But some school districts feared the worst Saturday afternoon.
"I got the phone call about 2:30 in the afternoon from our dairy hauler, Mapleton Dairy, that they shut the doors on the Golden Guernsey plant that morning," said food service director Peggy West.
The district had enough milk on hand for Monday. But West said it sent her into scramble mode.
"By Tuesday we had no source of milk at that point."
The closing of the Golden Guernsey plant affected more than 350 schools across the state. Mapleton Dairy in Oconomowoc delivers milk to Oshkosh. It was also caught off guard.
"This is Mapleton Dairy Haulers, there will be no disruption in milk service," said a message on the companies voicemail Tuesday. Representatives did not return our calls for comment.
That message is a relief for many school districts.
"Basically, we would not have had a complete meal, so without the milk we would have had to give the food away for nothing," said West.
Because of a federal mandate, schools have to provide milk as part of a school lunch or the entire meal is free for the students. A FOX 11 Fact Check shows the district currently pays about 21 cents per carton of milk. It charges students 30 cents. The district sells more than 9,300 cartons of milk each day. With the federal penalties, the district says one day without milk would cost it $15,800.
No other school districts we checked with contract with Golden Guernsey for dairy products. West expects it could be a few weeks before the issue is completely resolved. She also says a new provider could also mean higher milk prices.
"I do expect that there will be a price change, but I don't think that any company is going to use this as an opportunity to gouge us."
Still West says she is confident parents and students don't have anything to worry about.
"I think we have done a good job of taking care of them and we will continue to do that."
Golden Guernsey supplies milk products to grocery stories, like Pick ‘n Save and Copps.
The stores in our area are served by the plant out of De Pere and are not affected.
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