Dairy Science Club’s annual cheese box sale benefits student programs

Samantha Shirk
November 16, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For members of the Dairy Science Club at Penn State, the holiday season means one favorite tradition — the annual holiday cheese box sale. For more than 40 years, the club has partnered with the Penn State Berkey Creamery to provide assorted boxes of cheese and spreads for customers to gift to others.

In nonpandemic years, members fill orders placed by friends, family members, companies and the public at the creamery. Boxes are shipped or picked up before the students leave at the end of the fall semester. The students gain valuable experience working in customer service, food service and organizational skills from their participation.

This year, however, the sale has been affected by COVID-19 mitigation practices. Regardless, club faculty advisers Dale Olver and Chad Dechow and student sale organizers were determined to host the fundraiser.

“Our customers are very loyal and look forward to ordering holiday boxes for their friends and families as a tradition each year, so club members were pleased to find a safe way to offer the sale in 2020 despite various COVID-19 restrictions,” said Olver.

Typically, club members would personally pack and ship each box, but this year they asked the creamery to fill the boxes to minimize contact and the need for extra personnel.

“Throughout the history of the cheese box sale, Dairy Science Club members have enjoyed partnering with Berkey Creamery to offer great Penn State dairy products,” Olver said. “Our members are grateful for the guidance of the creamery staff to offer this year's sale. Without this cooperation, the sale would not be possible.”

Co-chair Olivia Drum, a senior animal science major from Lebanon, Connecticut, collects the online orders and communicates with the creamery to place the orders.

“I speak with Dale and the creamery staff multiple times each week to confirm the orders and ensure smooth organization of the sale,” Drum said. “We appreciate the creamery’s partnership to host the sale to provide customers with a sense of normalcy and to support our club.”

In previous years, the club would purchase the cheese and other additions from the creamery while using its facilities to run the fundraiser. The co-chairs would set custom prices for the different choices and shipping options. Because the creamery is streamlining the fundraiser with its staff and order process, the 2020 boxes feature the creamery’s new “Nittany Cheddars” signature line instead of the mild and smoked cheddar, muenster and bologna options.

Each box in the 2020 sale contains the following cheeses and spreads: Nittany Lion Medium Cheddar, Nittany Pride Medium Cheddar (yellow), Nittany Smoked Cheddar, pimento spread and cream cheese. Boxes range in price depending on shipping. Those ordering 20 or more boxes will receive a discount.

Orders in 2019 surpassed 1,300 boxes. This year, the club's sales goal is about 1,000 boxes. Proceeds help cover travel expenses for club-related trips and activities. This year, part of the proceeds also will go to the creamery.

Co-chair Drew Walton, of Cochranton, Pennsylvania, had the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands in 2019 thanks to the sale.

“The funds from the cheese box sale helped to lower the cost for students to attend the spring trip to the Netherlands,” said Walton a senior animal science major. “This was an eye-opening experience, which allowed me to learn how dairy systems operate in another part of the world.”

The sale organizers expressed gratitude for their loyal customers and the creamery for their continued support in unprecedented times. “We appreciate everyone’s understanding of the changes this year while still supporting our club,” said Drum. “We hope to host a normal sale again next year.”

Orders can be placed by visiting https://animalscience.psu.edu/events/2020-dairy-science-club-cheesbox-fundraiser. The deadline is Nov. 18.


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Last Updated November 16, 2020