The Madison School District and others around the state were scrambling over the weekend to find another milk provider after the unexpected closing of a Waukesha dairy processing plant.
No districts reported going without milk Monday, but some students may have begun to see different milk cartons because of the Golden Guernsey plant closing Saturday. Madison officials say there will be no long-term disruptions as a result of the closure.
Madison received a Golden Guernsey milk shipment at all but seven schools on Friday, food services director Steve Youngbauer said. When the district learned about the shutdown over the weekend, officials arranged for Prairie Farms Dairy, a cooperative based in Carlinville, Ill., to supply the seven schools, and milk was delivered Monday morning before breakfast.
"Prairie Farms has agreed to provide seamless service to our schools at this time," Youngbauer said. "We are confident that there should be no break in service for our students."
Youngbauer said he doesn't anticipate the switch from Golden Guernsey to Prairie Farms will cost the district more money.
The Milwaukee Public Schools buys from multiple vendors and had to switch 40 schools from Golden Guernsey to Prairie Farms, district spokesman Tony Tagliavia said.
Mapleton Dairy Haulers in Oconomowoc had been delivering Golden Guernsey milk to several school districts in Dane County, including Cambridge, Deerfield, Marshall, McFarland, Monona Grove and Waunakee. It services 360 schools in southeastern Wisconsin, president Lynn Hiemke said.
Hiemke said his company was able to secure milk from Kemps, which is based in St. Paul, Minn., and has five manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
"It is unbelievable how much everyone has gone out of their ways to help us," Hiemke said, adding that Kemps took the unusual step of firing up its machines Sunday to meet demand for milk gallons.
McFarland superintendent Scott Brown said Mapleton "did a great job" in handling the change over the weekend and that it "did not feel like a crisis to us." The district's next delivery is Tuesday morning, but if it had been Monday "there might have been a disruption in the milk supply."
Grocery stores were largely unaffected by the plant closing as they sell other brands of milk and didn't carry Golden Guernsey as their primary product, said Brandon Scholz, president of the Wisconsin Grocers Association.
At Copps and Pick n' Save stores, the closing of the dairy was expected to have little impact, according to Vivian King, a spokeswoman for Roundy's, a Milwaukee company that owns Copps and Pick'n Save. She said 34 of the company's stores carry Golden Guernsey milk, yogurt, sour cream and other products but other vendors like Kemps and Dean are helping to fill the void.
"We think Kemps and Dean will be able to step up and provide those products," King said.
The Golden Guernsey plant had been under the ownership of a Los Angeles private equity firm since last year. Open Gate Capital bought the operation from Dallas-based Dean Foods, which was required to sell it to satisfy federal antitrust concerns.
A Department of Workforce Development spokesman said state officials were not notified of the closure, which is required by law. Spokesman John Dipko said the state has been trying to contact Open Gate to discuss the closure and insure the rights of about 100 employees are protected under state law.
— State Journal reporter Barry Adams contributed to this report.