School grant program a triple win for Westby
Sep 09, 2019 (Westby, WI)
Everybody needs a helping hand now and then, and Westby Cooperative Creamery is no
The Creamery produces highly nutritional, flavorful yogurt for its partner Perfect Parfait, a company that makes and distributes yogurt dispensing machines for hotels, healthcare institutions, colleges and schools. But, gaining broad-line distribution of the dispenser and its yogurt has had its challenges in Wisconsin. Federal regulation, along with the favoring of large suppliers, continues to present a massive speedbump for the Creamery in terms of attracting Wisconsin schools to the dispenser and its yogurt due, in part, to lean budgets.
“The Wisconsin school market, overall, is challenging for many producers and cooperat
ives,” Pete Kondrup, Westby Cooperative Creamery general manager, said.
It’s not enough to simply talk about locally produced and farmer owned when a client is on a budget. For schools, a lot of the decision making comes down to cost – even when they wish to serve locally-produced goods.
This is where the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) came in to help. The Dairy Processor Grant was created to improve the long-term viability of
Wisconsin’s dairy industry by facilitating operational changes, improving profitability and fostering innovation and economic growth.
Westby Cooperative Creamery applied for such a grant in early 2019 to expand the di
stribution of its yogurt – through Perfect Parfait – to Wisconsin schools.
The application included highlighting the Creamery’s mission to serve its owner members by encouraging the consumption of Wisconsin dairy foods. “By helping us overcome the obstacles of the school market, this project helps Westby continue to purchase milk from producers and do our part to keep our state’s small- and medium-sized family dairy farms in business,” Kondrup said.
The Creamery received the Dairy Processor Grant shortly after applying. A total of $15,580 was provided by the state with the Creamery pitching in $3,800. This investment allowed for 20 Perfect Parfait yogurt dispensers to be fully paid for and granted to Wisconsin schools thereby eliminating some of the cost burden. Perfect Parfait also chipped in by creating a rebate program on every case of yogurt purchased. This further reduces the expense and allows Wisconsin kids to reap the nutritional benefits of eating Wisconsin-made dairy. Simultaneously, the program drives demand and accessibility to l
ocally-produced food and helps keep small, family farms operating.
By late August, all 20 grants had been dispersed to Wisconsin schools. Those schools include:
Ashwaubenon, Bangor, Cashton, Elcho, Germantown, Hartford Union High, Hillsboro, Jefferson, La Farge, Madison Metropolitan, Melrose-Mindoro, North Crawford, Pilgrim Park, Randolph, Seneca, Slinger, Southwestern WI Community Schools, Viroqua, Wauzeka and Westby.