Longtime NYC Fixture Elmhurst Dairy Shutting Down

Longtime local dairy plant Elmhurst Dairy, provider of the familiar milk cartons in New York City public schools, is shutting down.

The plant will be closing in 90 days after nearly 100 years in business, officials said, citing a drop in demand for milk. 

In its heyday, Elmhurst Dairy processed nearly a million and a half gallons of milk a week. The silos were a fixture of the Jamaica, Queens, for as long as anyone can remember.

The red-and-gold delivery truck still housed on the site provides a fleeting memory of the home deliveries of yesteryear. The plant has operated at the same location for eight decades, processing the raw milk produced and delivered from upstate dairy farms, much of the end product headed for New York City public schools.

The 15-acre site was the largest milk processing facility in the city and for many years has been the only milk plant.

A big part of the reason for closing: a drop in demand.

"People for whatever reason are not consuming as much milk as they were 30 and 40 years ago," said Henry Schwartz, CEO of Elmhurst Dairy. 

The grandson of the Elmhurst Dairy founder says products with longer shelf lives -- like soy and almond milks -- soured the market for fresh milk.

Now 273 employees are losing their jobs. 

"Hundreds of people work here. What are they going to do?" said Singh Hundal, who's worked at the plant 20 years. 

"I figure I'm going to move on," said a resigned Lorenzo Seguil, who's been at the plant 27 years. 

The company says it plans to bring new jobs into Jamaica by redeveloping the site, though just how is not yet certain. 

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