Got Milk? Buckeyes Do.

How much milk does it take to quench the dairy thirst of Ohio State’s Columbus campus? About 13,000 gallons every month.

Most of the milk served by University Dining Services comes from Ohio sources.

And most of that milk comes from Ohio farmers. In order to meet the Ohio State sustainability goal of increasing production and purchase of locally and sustainably sourced food to 40 percent by 2025, Student Life Dining Services is tracing the university’s liquid dairy products to find out where the milk originates before it reaches campus.

“In most months, about 85 percent of the raw dairy for Borden comes from Ohio farmers. The remaining 15 percent is purchased from a Cooperative that sources from both Michigan and Ohio farmers,” says Zia Ahmed, senior director of Student Life Dining Services.

Because of the complexity of dairy food systems, which for example includes not only the farmers but the cow feed; the transportation of the milk from the farm to the processing plant; the pasteurization and packaging; and the transportation of the finished product to the university, tracing the food sourcing is no small endeavor.

After Ohio farmers draw the milk, Dairymens, founded in Cleveland in 1923, pasteurizes and packages it at its Cincinnati plant. Then US Foods’ distribution center in Cincinnati transports the milk to campus.

“Transparency information is often challenging to gather,” Ahmed points out, “particularly in fluctuating production models of many food items that depend on influencing factors like weather. However, we are committed to gather and share as much information as reasonable.”

Ahmed expects these reports to evolve over time as Dining Services staff continue to learn and make adjustments.

“Our quest for learning more about our food sources will remain steadfast,” he says. “We will continue to track these numbers at least on a quarterly basis.”

This is the second in a three-part series about sustainability efforts at Student Life Dining Services. Last week: Chicken. Next week: Beef