AP NEWS

Expansion possible for ‘Milk 4 Many’ program at Katy ISD

May 17, 2019

The food pantry director at Katy Christian Ministries is feeling confident these days about providing more milk for her clients in need.

Holly Havlick said she is in discussions with officials at the Katy Independent School District about having more campuses participate in the “Milk 4 Many” program which finds a use for school milk, unwanted by students, that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

“They have talked with all of the elementary principals. Some of them have expressed interest,” Havlick said. “The logistics is what they’re concerned about.”

Four elementary schools and a junior high within Katy ISD currently participate in “Milk 4 Many.” While some schools donate only milk, others also add packaged food items like cookies and crackers to the special ice chests placed in the cafeterias. After lunch, the ice chests are taken by volunteers to Katy Christian Ministries. There are several safeguards built into the program. The staff at the schools don’t participate and encourage the children to drink their milk and eat their food.

But, if they don’t, the milk can be used to feed the hungry of Katy. Because of governmental regulations - the school lunch program is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture - food and milk not used by the students must be disposed of.

“We can’t take the food and repurpose it,” said Beth Grimet, principal at Katy Elementary School. “It was all just being thrown away. We were just appalled at the food being wasted.”

Most parents are probably confident their children clean off their plates during school lunch, Havlick said.

“I think they would be aghast at the amount of food their children aren’t eating,” she said.

Even with only a handful of schools currently participating in “Milk 4 Many,” the program still provided 6.5 tons of milk, juice and food to the food bank at Katy Christian Ministries. People from all over the city came to them for help after Katy was hit hard by flooding brought on by Hurricane Harvey.

“It (Milk 4 Many) is our only reliable source of milk,” Havlick said.

If every school in the district was able to pass them a handful of milk carts per day, it would ensure all their clients had a steady supply, Havlick said.

For school officials worried about “Milk 4 Many” being yet another non-classroom obligation on their overextended staffers, Havlick said they should encourage campus parent-teacher organizations to take charge of it.

“There are people eager to help in constructive ways,” she said.

Some Katy ISD schools already gather up unused milk and food items and make them available for others at their campus. Havlick said she fully supports that informal program.

“The kids can take what they want and then anything else that’s left can come to us,” she said.

Word about “Milk 4 Many” is even extending beyond Katy. A teacher in the Alief ISD recently sent her an email about starting a similar program in their district.

“We’re going back and forth. I’m trying to help her find a local agency that she can work with,” Havlick said.