The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Got Milk?: Offerings in Commons Switch to Hood-Brand Dairy

This+year%2C+Bates+Dining+services+began+serving+Hood-brand+milk+products+in+Commons+due+to+Smiling+Hill+Dairy+being+unable+to+produce+the+necessary+quantities+this+year+while+they+update+production+equipment.+Creative+Commons+License.
This year, Bates Dining services began serving Hood-brand milk products in Commons due to Smiling Hill Dairy being unable to produce the necessary quantities this year while they update production equipment. Creative Commons License.

Although cow milk has fallen out of fashion in favor of oat or almond alternatives, many Bates students still turn to the milk station each morning. Whether the milk is for your cereal, your lattes or just straight drinking, people have real preferences. 

This fall when I returned to campus, I noticed the labels on the milk dispensers had changed. Setting aside their aggressive splashing, the little Smiling Hill Dairy sticker had switched to the generic Hood brand label. I wanted to know more, so I sat down with Director of Dining Christine Schwartz to get my burning questions answered. Bates used to get our milk from Westover Dairy, a family-owned dairy based out of Portland who processed milk from local Maine farmers. 

When Baker Brook Farms of Gray Maine approached Bates, Dining, Conferences and Campus Events (DCCE) enthusiastically partnered with them. Their milk is processed through Smiling Hill Dairy, but this year, they are pausing operations to update equipment. Upon learning that our go-to milk provider could no longer supply Bates for the 2023-24 school year, the purchasing team looked at alternative options. 

Bates students go through so much milk; not many distributors can fit with our needs. The options were returning to Westover or moving forward with Hood, a New England-based dairy company. Since Hood could be purchased through DCCE’s prime vendor, it was a simpler process. Bates is a major player in food supply in Maine, holding a lot of sway over the industry. Commons was able to get a good deal since we are buying in such bulk and the ordering process is smoother going through a trusted supplier. 

I decided to reach out to a few students to see their opinions on the shift. I have long heard intel that Willa Laski ’26 is a chocolate milk connoisseur. She now drinks the milk once a week, when she used to drink it multiple times a week. Laski believes that you can taste the difference and specified that it is “less creamy, less decadent and delicious. It feels like less of a dessert. But I will say, it is still delicious.” 

Otto Pierce ’25 of Burlington, Vermont (what I will lovingly describe as cow country) drinks whole milk religiously. He noticed the switch “instantly” and was “taken aback and surprised.” He expressed disappointment that a beloved local connection had seemingly fallen through. Pierce commented that, ultimately, “it doesn’t give me a cow I can look into the eyes of.” At the end of the day, it is still milk and he will still be an avid consumer.

Interestingly enough the chocolate milk consumption has been up since the switch. I speculate that since the chocolate milk is now made from lowfat, or skim, milk it is appealing to a new audience. 

You may have noticed the milk machines remain optimistically wrapped in Baker Brook packaging. To many students’ relief, the intention is to return to Baker Brook farms as soon as possible, so fret not. Ideally in the spring of next year, the especially-creamy milk will return. 

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About the Contributor
Leah Belber, Assistant Arts & Leisure Editor

Leah is a sophomore from Washington, D.C. who will likely major in English with a minor in French. Deeply opinionated about food, she enjoys trying new restaurants and baking elaborate birthday cakes. You can find her filming TikToks for Bates on the quad or attending PAUSE on Wednesday nights!

In her first year, Leah was a staff writer writing primarily for Arts & Leisure, continuing her work from high school at The Augur Bit.

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    TonyDec 7, 2023 at 10:12 PM

    I’d like to look my milk cow in the eye. Great intel on the milk situation!

    Reply