Grade 2 and 3 teacher Chantelle George stands beside the salmon tank and its milk-money-funded new compressor at the Saseenos Elementary school.

Milk money school program down on funds

Local program that raise money for schools has come up short this year.

The term “milk money” is one that’s become lost in translation over the years; does it still mean the leftover change from that school cafeteria burger, or, perhaps, the change that appointed bullies drain from their victims while holding them upside-down at lunchtime.

Either way, it’s not what you think it is in Sooke; in fact, it’s called the Milk Money Program, run by a conglomerate of parents (called the Parent Advisory Council, or PAC) in partnership with the local Village Food Markets.

How it works? When a milk purchase is made, 15 cents from a Dairlyland 2 L bottle and 20 cents from every Dairyland 4 L bottle is donated to the program.

In turn, this pile of cash is then compiled and donated a local school of your choice. Then, in partnership with the schools, PAC figures out where the funds are used.

But the pile of cash is fading. After running the numbers, Carey Radsma, office manager at Village Food Markets, says the total for this year is about exactly half of what they gave out last time – nearly $2,400 in 2014, compared to $1,203 in 2015.

“What runs the milk money program are the people who buy milk here. If people are buying milk someplace else, it hurts the success of the program,” she said. “We’re just not getting the numbers we used to.”

Introduced in 2010, the milk program has filtered a total of $29,829 into school funds. At Saseenos, a baby salmon incubation tank was put in last year for grade 2 and 3 classes, with a new compressor this year. At Journey, a new playground is underway, with several other field trips and fun school programs.

This year, Saseeons gets $123, Poirier $162, Edward Milne $215, John Muir $202, Sooke Elementary $254, Journey $129, and Port Renfrew $118. The numbers are run every six months. Radsma says those numbers could improve in the coming months if more parents knew more about it.

“It would be nice to see the schools try and get the membership out, do an announcement, send out a newsletter, making sure if you’re with Village Food Market and you’re buying milk that you’re signed up for the program,” she said.

She also pointed out that if your child moves to another school, you can still sign up for the program and just simply transfer the funds to the new school.