KINGWOOD, W.Va. (WBOY) — A nationwide shortage of the cardboard used to make school lunch-sized milk cartons has trickled down into several West Virginia counties.

On Friday, Preston County Schools notified parents and students via a Facebook post that the shortage was affecting its child nutrition programs.

“We understand the nutritional value of milk being served at breakfast and lunch,” said Child Nutrition Director Beth Doerr. “We are doing our best to explore other options beyond our usual milk supplier. However, unfortunately, there may be instances where juice and water will need to be substituted.”

According to a news release from Preston County Schools, its milk vendor, Galliker’s Dairy of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, anticipates being able to fill 60% of the volume of milk the county typically orders.

12 News contacted Galliker’s, who reiterated that the dairy has plenty of milk and that the shortage is in the supply chain.

“We’ll continue to work with our customers and keep them fully advised on the availability of cartons at the same time work as hard as possible to look for alternatives that meet their needs,” said Director Julia Galliker.

According to a news release from the dairy, Galliker’s is taking steps to address the national issue and has notified each school and institution they serve about the carton shortage.

12 News contacted the West Virginia Department of Education to determine how widespread the issue was statewide.

According to communications director Christy Day, the carton shortage has impacted 9 counties in the Eastern Panhandle and Preston County. Day shared a copy of the guidance the state department of education had received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That guidance included substituting alternative forms of fluid milk or going without fluid milk during supply shortages.

Galliker said her company is in contact with the carton supplier on a daily basis and looking for alternative packaging options.

“In recent years, industry consolidation has reduced the number of carton manufacturers.
Currently, there is no additional production capacity available in North America. We are actively
looking for other packaging options including plastic containers. We are also coordinating with
other regional dairies to meet customer needs,” said Galliker.

Galliker’s has set up a School Milk Helpline to help customers with orders at: 814-266-8702
extension 2690. The line will be staffed from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“Preston County Schools appreciates the patience and understanding of students and families as we work to feed our students and families as we work to feed our students nutritious and delicious meals every day they are in school despite supply chain issues,” said Doerr.

According to the USDA, schools are required to offer fat-free and/or low-fat (1%) unflavored milk as part of school breakfasts and lunches.