CMN

Guest Columns

Perspective:
Dairy Nutrition

Digital resources connect kids, dairy

Tammy Anderson-Wise

Tammy Anderson-Wise, CEO of Dairy Council of California, is a guest columnist for Cheese Market News®.

The outbreak of COVID-19 impacted our lives in countless ways, forcing everyone to adapt to a new normal.

Schools throughout the nation closed their doors, and students, families and entire school communities were forced to find new ways to teach and learn practically overnight. As the pandemic continues, schools and educators are grappling with the uncertainty of what the next school year will bring. At Dairy Council of California, we have ramped up our digital offerings and expanded our portfolio of nutrition resources to support distance learning and help educators teach students at home how to eat healthfully now and in the future.

• Bringing the farm to students’ homes

Schoolchildren can now take a virtual field trip to a dairy farm, thanks to Dairy Council of California, California Milk Advisory Board and the Mobile Dairy Classroom — the original farm-to-school program. During the virtual field trips, students learn about dairy farming, including how cheese and other dairy foods are produced and their nutritional benefits.

The first stop on the 45-minute virtual field trip is the Mobile Dairy Classroom, where students learn about cows, from their anatomy to how they produce milk. Students can then zoom over to a real California dairy farm. There, students meet real farmers, and learn — through virtual experience — how dairy cows are fed and milked, how farmers care for their dairy cows and the sustainability measures dairy farmers implement on their farms. Hosted in real-time, students can see, experience and engage with the Mobile Dairy Classroom instructors and dairy farmers to ask questions as they arise. Field trips, offered Monday through Thursday with two sessions offered each day, are available through June.

Since its launch April 23, more than 4,500 students have attended the online educational series that engages students in real-time, bringing the farm experience home.

• Online and other tools support distance learning

Dairy Council of California is offering free online nutrition resources, including games, activities and curriculum, as well as a variety of resources to teach agricultural literacy at home. From our popular MyPlate Match Game, a fun and interactive game that teaches elementary students the five food groups and how to categorize them, to our teen-centered Eat Move Win program that empowers students to make healthy eating and physical activity choices, HealthyEating.org offers a variety of free educational tools aimed at engaging and teaching children of all ages.

Also available on the site are new nutrition blogs that highlight important topics like dairy’s role in immunity health, nutrition tips and resources, and healthy eating patterns. Publications like The Healthy Eating TABLE, which translates the latest in nutrition science, and TRENDS, which identifies today’s nutrition trends, are available online.

For YouTube fans, our Ask a Nutritionist video series answers common questions around food topics. Hosted by registered dietitian nutritionists, the series explores questions like, “Can I Freeze Milk?” and “Do Milk and Dairy Foods Play a Role in Plant-based Eating Patterns?” to help demystify common nutrition questions children, families, educators and even health professionals may have.

• Elevating health through nutrition

Finding creative ways to engage students at home during this time is important, which is why we expanded our portfolio of nutrition resources to address virtual learning and support educators, families and communities. Cultivating healthy eating habits, especially when established at a young age, sets the foundation for healthy eating patterns and lifelong health. By supporting nutrition education and access to nutritious foods including dairy, we can help to ensure children are supported for optimal growth and development, reduced risk of chronic diseases and academic success.

Research shows that dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt contain a unique package of nutrients that work together to enhance health benefits. When part of a healthy eating pattern, milk and dairy food consumption is linked to a wide range of health benefits, including blood pressure control, improved bone health, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and better weight management.

Dairy Council of California was founded more than 100 years ago with the goal of improving health through nutrition. Though a century has passed, we remain committed to the belief that the health of children must be prioritized and that supporting access to nutritious foods and nutrition education can help ensure all children can grow healthfully.

The environment around us is changing. Today, more than ever, we are proud to embrace innovation and technology to continue our legacy of improving community health. Through our nutrition education resources, we are teaching the importance of daily eating patterns that emphasize the consumption of nutritious foods including dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt. On behalf of California dairy farmers and processors, we will continue to educate children and their families on how to eat healthfully and establish eating patterns that include all food groups, ignite a passion for milk and dairy foods as part of daily eating patterns, and inform, educate and partner to elevate the health of children and families through nutrition to empower healthier communities.

CMN

The views expressed by CMN’s guest columnists are their own opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Cheese Market News®.

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