In school cafeterias across the country, kids tend to be more interested in playing catch with milk cartons than actually drinking their contents. But that has changed in Columbia County’s Taconic Hills School District, which used milk from Hudson Valley Fresh for the first time during the 2013-14 school year.
“The kids love the milk and drank more than they ever did before,” says Dr. Sam Simon, founder of Hudson Valley Fresh, a dairy partnership among nine local family farms in Dutchess, Columbia, and Ulster counties that produces whole, skim, low-fat, and chocolate milk along with other products like sour cream and yogurt.
It wasn’t easy getting this milk into the cafeteria. School districts are always concerned with the bottom line, and Hudson Valley Fresh had to have the lowest bid to win the contract. The local FarmOn! Foundation made this possible by donating the price difference, which allowed the school to purchase the milk.
In addition to Taconic Hills, a number of local private schools and colleges get their milk from this source. “Since Marist College has been a customer for three years, the student body has doubled its consumption of milk; they needed to add more dispensing machines and even received letters from students wanting more milk,” says Dr. Simon, noting that Bard and Vassar are also customers.
A retired orthopedic surgeon who grew up on his family’s farm, Dr. Simon founded Hudson Valley Fresh not only to return to his roots, but to preserve local agriculture and open space. “I understand the plight of the farmer because I’ve lived it. As long as the farmers get a fair price, they’ll stay around.”
HV Fresh hosts tastings of its products; visit www.hudsonvalleyfresh.com for a list of locations and times.