Castleton University senior Aminah Orogi, awoke on a recent Thursday morning with a craving for chocolate milk. She left her residence building and headed to the Coffee Cottage, her go-to breakfast place.
But she is appalled by what she sees.
No chocolate milk. No white milk, no strawberry milk, no half and half – no milk at all.
“I was really frustrated. I was told Huden and Fireside didn’t have chocolate milk either. I wasn’t mad, just disappointed,” Orogi said in an interview later that week.
According to Theresa Phelix, Coffee Cottage supervisor, Thomas Dairy is a local Vermont vendor that has provided Castleton with milk “since the beginning.” Until the fall semester of 2016, Thomas would deliver the products directly to the campus without a third party.
In August of 2016, they decided to contract with Black River Produce, meaning Thomas would deliver the products to Black River, and Black River would ship them to Castleton along with the other Vermont State Colleges.
Phelix suspected that the head of Thomas Dairy was looking to retire and have his family take over and wanted to establish a business deal with Black River that would help everyone.
Not only was the third party a complication for delivery, but the prices also went up 50 cents per unit, although Castleton did not raise prices for students.
But the reason for the change wasn’t about a Thomas family members retiring. It was actually an effort from Phelix’s employer.
According to Abby Thomas from Thomas Dairy, they were unaware there were any complications. Sodexo, which handles food services at Castleton, had originally gone to them to see if Thomas could deliver to Black River and Black River would then deliver to the university with other food the college buys.
“Sodexo wanted to follow the 20/20 real food challenge and “decrease their carbon footprint,” Thomas said.
She went on to explain that Black River is a great partner of Thomas Dairy and the situation just didn’t work out for Castleton.
“I think they (Black River) are struggling with space to store the product. And we have to order it almost 10 days in advance, and when it comes in they don’t have any in stock,” Phelix said.
She later went on to explain how one day they delivered $300 worth of milk on a Saturday (when Coffee Cottage is closed), and because it was not stored at the proper temperature, they were unable to sell the milk.
After losing sales from Castleton, Thomas has decided to go back to their original plan. Starting next week they will be delivering the milk themselves instead of using a third party.
“A lack of milk, especially chocolate, was a big problem campus wide,” said Amanda Rollins, a long-time dining facilities employee.
Phelix also explained that it wasn’t just milk. Other dairy and local products such as yogurt and the Woodstock Bars have been out of stock because of this complication. The employees hope that going back to the old way will fix this problem.
A call to Black River Produce went unreturned.