Cheese box sales hit all-time high; Dairy Club reaps benefits

Adrienne Lipinski, Ag Reporter (She/her)

South Dakota State’s Dairy Science Club had a record year selling cheese boxes, and the money earned will pay for club events, community service activities, trips, scholarship memberships and more. 

The club’s annual cheese box sales started accepting orders in mid-October and closed during early December. By the time the orders closed, 2,369 boxes had been purchased. 

“My favorite part of advising the Dairy Club is seeing the immense impact that cheese box sales have on club members,” Lane Speirs, one of the club’s advisers, said. “Members gain an incredible insight into running a full-fledged business and get to reap the benefits for the following year through scholarships and club travel.”

Customers have the option of buying four out of 12 options of cheese, including: chipotle and roasted garlic, black pepper, jalapeno, prairie fire, white cheddar, italian herb, co-jack, aged cheddar, mild cheddar, smoked monterey jack, smoked cheddar and bacon cheddar. Each block of cheese weighs roughly one pound. Boxes are sold for $25 each.

A unique aspect of this fundraiser is the fact the dairy club members work directly with making the cheese they sell. They work in the Davis Diary Plant to ensure that their fundraiser will be a success. 

“The SDSU Dairy Club cheese box fundraisers is one of the largest fundraisers on the SDSU campus,” said student Arlinna Bowen, one of the co-chairs of cheese box sales. “The club members come to the Davis Dairy Plant and have a hands-on experience of how to package cheese and make orders for the customers.”

Bowen is majoring in dairy manufacturing. She oversees organizing and setting up all the cheese cutting times, packaging and working with the bookstore to ensure the orders are shipped to where they need to go. 

Some of the trips available to members funded by cheese box sales including World Dairy Expo and the annual meeting of the American Dairy Science Association. 

Another major component that the sales help pay for is the Dairy Club scholarships for club members who major in dairy and food science undergraduate programs. Sales also sponsor scholarships for club members who are studying other majors. 

Nobody really knows when the cheese box sales officially started at SDSU, but it is believed to be between 1964 and 1969. It is the primary revenue source for the club, and besides making and packaging the cheese, members also are involved in milking the cows, billing customers and distributing the cheese. 

“The Brookings community and people all across the country have come to recognize and expect the annual cheese box sale,” Speirs said. “It isn’t just a representation of the dairy and food science department or the Dairy Club, it is a representation of SDSU holistically.”

The club attracts buyers from all over the country from individuals and families to companies buying hundreds of boxes at a time to serve as gifts through the holiday season. 

Mary Christensen, an academic adviser for CAFES, was originally gifted a box and liked it so much that she decided to buy some again this year.

“It’s a great product. I love the cheese and the ability to customize my cheese selection,” Christensen said. “I enjoy supporting the Dairy Science Club and students with my purchase and my family loves that I bring a cheese platter to holiday gatherings.”