FLORIDA – Thanks to the Red Cross, students at Shaft School in Florida are drinking milk for lunch for the first time. In a one-room school, 15 children supplement their sandwiches with a pint of milk, the only fresh milk they have during the day, as there is no dairy circuit in this section. There are two cows in town.
About two miles up the Mohawk Trail, near the shaft that serves as one of Hoosac’s tunnel ventilators, the school is a replica of the one-room institution their great-grandfathers attended. It is located on a hill, with the Hoosac range in the background. Light, if needed, is provided by kerosene lamps, heat by an enormous coke stove, and music by an old-fashioned parlor organ. But they have running water, which is piped into the building and flows by gravity. There are eight grades.
While the setting is that of a century or more ago, the teaching is not. They have a teacher and superintendent with modern ideas, who know that children growing up must have fresh milk. The Massachusetts Health Department nutritionist and the Red Cross arranged for the Trudeau Dairy in North Adams to provide 15 pints of milk a day. Delivery is made possible by Herbert Burdick, who drives the school bus. Before picking up the children each morning, he picks up the crate of milk.
Younger children have a half pint shortly after arrival and another at lunch. The older ones drink both bottles at noon. David Malcolm, district superintendent, and Mrs. Judson Goman, the teacher whose two children are students, watch the project with interest. Pupils were weighed at the start of the so-called “school meals” program in the fall, and their weight will be checked when school closes for the five or six-week winter vacation in a few days. Adding vitamins, calcium and other important nutrients to milk is expected to affect health and weight.
The Red Cross nutrition service pays for the milk until June, proof of the importance of balanced breakfasts. It is hoped that other rural communities that do not have milk delivery will adopt school meal programs.
This story within a story is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.