And the McGuffey Center students are not the only ones drinking milk from plastic.
This week, Lincoln County switched from serving milk in paper cartons to the recyclable bottles in the district's three secondary schools — McGuffey, Lincoln County Middle School and Lincoln County High School. To celebrate the program's launch, a "Drink it, then sink it" kick-off was held at the McGuffey Center. Joe Bratcher, a local dairy farmer, and Dale and Linda Kirkpatrick, operators of the Lincoln County Recycling Center, were invited to speak to students about the importance of drinking milk and recycling plastic.
Students were also given "Drink it, then sink it" stickers and Fuel Up pedometers.
"Milk is an important powerhouse of nutrition and needs to be served cold and in appealing, easy-to-open packaging," said Kathy Belcher, program director for the Southeast Dairy Association. "I applaud Lincoln County schools for providing milk in a more kid-friendly, contemporary package, which is also recyclable."
Most people know that milk is a good source of calcium but they may not be aware of the fact that milk contains nine essential nutrients for stronger bones and better bodies. In addition to calcium, milk contains potassium, phosphorus, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, riboflavin and niacin. The knowledge of nutrients may not be an impetus for students to drink milk, but Belcher is hoping that the newer packaging will.
"We've heard complaints before that the paper cartons were hard to open and that the milk picked up the flavor of the carton," she said. "These plastic bottles are not hard to open and the milk won't pick up the flavor of the plastic.
Also, the students have said that the milk is colder in the plastic bottles.
"We want students to make healthier choices with their food and drink, and we hope that these plastic milk bottles will help get more of them drinking milk," said Belcher.
Belcher wasn't at the McGuffey Center just to watch the students drink from the plastic milk bottles and to talk of the benefits of drinking milk. Belcher was on hand for a grant presentation on behalf of the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association Inc. The grant money provided for new milk merchandising equipment, which included glass-front coolers, and "Drink It, Then Sink It"recycling bins.
"Our hope is that the updating with contemporary bottles and equipment will produce more milk drinkers, and that the recycling of the bottles will teach students to be environmentally responsible," said Belcher.