Virginia Tech Dining Services has partnered with the Department of Dairy Science to offer “Virginia Tech Milk.” Whole milk, skim milk and 1 percent chocolate milk will all be offered. Students will harvest the milk on campus from the herd of dairy cows at Virginia Tech’s Dairy Center. The milk will then be pasteurized by the James River Department of Agribusiness and served through the milk dispensers at Dietrick Hall.

This project marks another positive step for Dining Services’ sustainability initiatives. Ted Faulkner, director of Dining Services, said the move towards more sustainable practices was largely influenced by feedback from students.

“Students frequently request more locally sourced food,” Faulkner said. “This partnership is just another way Dining Services is listening to the student voice.”

Dining centers have been using meats purchased from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’s Meat Science Center for over two years, and the university’s Kentland Farm provides local produce through the Dining Services Garden at Kentland Farm.

“We are fortunate to have so many resources available to us as a land-grant university,” said Dining Services Sustainability Coordinator Rial Tombes. “We’ve fostered great partnerships with the Meat Science Center for meats sourced from campus, with Kentland Farm to source produce grown just off campus, and now with Dairy Science to supply milk from our own cows.”


The on-campus Dairy Center houses a teaching and research freestall barn with a milking parlor.

The Dairy Center has a long-standing relationship with the James River Department of Agribusiness, a Virginia Department of Corrections facility where offenders work with officers and staff to complete jobs.


Through the processing, pasteurization and distribution work they complete to sell milk from Virginia Tech’s dairy, the offenders gain valuable work experience that helps them obtain employment once released.

For several years, milk has been harvested at Virginia Tech, sent to James River Department of Corrections facilities for processing and sold to various agencies.

With Virginia Tech’s sustainability efforts on the rise, Dining Services and Dairy Science began working together to serve the milk on campus.

“The students, campus community, Dining Services and animal science have all benefited from these partnerships,” said Shane Brannock, the dairy farm superintendent. “It’s high time for us all to benefit from a partnership with Dairy Science.”

Similar to the Meat Science Center and Kentland Farms, the Dairy Center supports the university’s focus on teaching, extension and research.

Dairy science classes meet at the dairy for at least one lab each week, and 10 to 15 students work in the dairy each semester. These students work directly in the milking parlor, harvesting milk and feeding the herd. PD

—Excerpts from the Virginia Tech News website.

Virginia Tech’s Dining Services partners with the university’s dairy science department and its students to provide Virginia Tech Milk in food service locations throughout the campus. Photos courtesy of Virginia Tech.