Elevating the health of children and parents in California can only be achieved through a coordinated collective impact of community partners. Developing and maintaining relationships that communicate common goals and collaborative services is key to creating healthy communities where we live, learn and play.
The California Dietetic Association (CDA), which represents 6,500 nutrition and dietetic professionals, empowers nutrition leaders to optimize the state of California’s health through food and nutrition. As Dairy Council of California (CA) supports opportunities to raise awareness of the dietitian's role in delivering credible nutrition education with evidenced-based food and nutrition resources, we place a great deal of value on our partnership with CDA. We are committed to and support registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) having an active voice through participation in health and food system advisory boards, community health collaboratives, policy education workshops and health care conferences.
Earlier this month, at the CDA’s annual conference in Riverside, this partnership was formally recognized as Dairy Council of CA received the Friends of CDA award. We are honored and proud of this designation, spotlighting our collaborative efforts with community partners and CDA leaders.
In addition to holding leadership roles in community health, Dairy Council of CA also supports the professional development of CDA members on important nutrition topics. At this year's conference, we sponsored the session Probiotics and the Microbiome: Key to Health and Disease Prevention. Presented to a standing-room only crowd, this session provided an important research update about the microbiome and gave RDNs key points to use in practice. Attendees engaged with thoughtful questions to further deepen their understanding of this topic.
Doing this great work doesn't happen without the support of California's dairy farmers and milk processors, who are truly committed to creating healthier communities through nutrition education. As we graciously accept the ‘Friends of CDA’ award, we want to acknowledge their role in our success. It means a great deal for such a respected and valued partner to recognize the Dairy Council of CA and our RDN staff for our commitment to making healthy eating easier.
It is with gratitude and appreciation that we accept this honor, and we hope this is only the beginning of the incredible work we can do collectively to elevate the health of Californians through good nutrition and nutrition education.
Ashley Rosales, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Living in California is great for a lot of reasons, not least of which is our amazing, year-round produce, fresh meat, milk, cheese, walnuts, almonds and other agricultural products. And just as we teach our kids about the Gold Rush of 1849, we have the opportunity to teach them about our modern-day gold rush -- our bounty of agriculture.
California is a great state for learning about food and nutrition. It's not for nothing that our state is called the salad bowl of America. California ranks No. 1 in agricultural cash receipts, followed by Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Minnesota. California produces more than 400 types of fruits, vegetables, herbs, poultry, dairy, livestock and related crops. Our state leads the nation in more than 110 of these crops, including some products that are only grown in California. Our rice, almonds and walnuts -- among other goods -- are exported around the world.
April is Garden Month. What better time to put classroom nutrition lessons into real life context with gardens? Teaching kids about the nutrition of our fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy, meat and grains can encourage healthy eating and an interest in where food comes from. Once you’ve covered nutrition in the classroom, it’s time to make the connection between the food we eat and where it comes from by getting kids out on the ranch to meet the animals, on to the farm to see the seedlings or into a school garden and planting seeds of their own. As an added bonus, classroom nutrition lessons and Farm to School extension activities provide a variety of opportunities to practice Common Core State Standards.
Farm to School programs create a link between local farmers and schools, they also can promote food literacy and encourage a lifetime of healthy eating from all five food groups. Combining classroom nutrition lessons with extension activities that teach kids about local farms, dairies and ranches is also a great way to support local agriculture, both in the short term and the long term, when kids grow up to be conscientious consumers.
Students at Riverside Unified School District in Southern California have been learning about surrounding farms and their produce for a decade now, and Nutrition Services Director Rodney Taylor says he's seen the results. The students eat more local fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria, interact with the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists on staff who encourage healthy eating and learn about eating from all five food groups for optimal health.
"Students have demonstrated the will to make healthy choices for 10 years by consuming the fresh fruit and vegetables served on the salad bar daily," Taylor said. "At RUSD Nutrition Services, we firmly believe that early intervention truly can impact lifelong healthy eating habits, which is what we seek to do in our food service program."
Starting a campus garden can give kids hands-on experience with planting seeds, growing food, and can make learning about nutrition more immediate. It's a match made in heaven -- kids eager to expand their palates and learn about healthy eating, and a state that is well able to meet their needs with its fertile soil, frequent sunshine and booming farms, dairies and ranches. To start a garden this spring, visit our garden seeds page.
Whether you’re in California, Colorado or Connecticut, take advantage of all the resources available to teach nutrition in your classroom and make Farm to School connections with the cafeteria, school garden and more. For more information about the Farm to School program, click here.
April is National Stress Awareness Month! Since both physical activity and food choices can go a long way towards managing and reducing stress, we’ve assembled some of our favorite recipes to help you all month long. Remember to choose foods and activities every month of the year that will reduce your level of stress, improve your mood, and promote a healthy lifestyle.
April Family Meal Recipes
Creamy Asparagus Pasta with Custard Berry Parfait and Walnut Parmesan Biscuits; plus Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie, Bran Muffin, All Natural Oatmeal Banana Cookies and Breakfast Burrito.
Chicken Parmesan Sandwich, Fruit Cocktail Salad and Power Orange Smoothie; plus Chickpeas and Spinach Salad with Cumin Dressing and Yogurt Sauce, Creamy Broccoli Fish Bake, Vegetarian Reuben with Russian Dressing and Awesome Banana Walnut Shake.
Tuna and Walnut Pasta Salad, Cheddar Bay Biscuits and Freckled Lemonade; plus Blueberry Crepes with Maple Cream, Stuffed Portabellas with Gorgonzola/Balsamic/Rosemary Reduction, Chicken Quesadillas and Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.
When I was in high school in the mid-seventies, I took a sack lunch to school every day. During the morning nutrition break, I would take something from my lunch to eat as a snack, then finish the rest of my lunch later during the lunch period.
My children, who graduated from high school in 2010 and 2012, also brought a lunch from home. However, they ate their lunch ALL day long- even during class. I don't know when it became acceptable to bring food and drinks into classrooms, but it did. Somehow I can't believe all teachers allow kids to bring food into their classrooms. How do they keep their classrooms clean?
Current consumer research shows frequent snacking has continued to increase, not only with teens but with all segments of our population. Furthermore, information presented during the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for American's Committee meetings shows there is room for improvement on the snack choices we are making.
In the table below it is clear that snacks currently provide lots of food energy (calories) and not as many essential nutrients as meals.
From Potato Chips to Mini-meals: Optimizing Nutrient Quality of Snacks
2. Read the latest Health Connections Newsletter:
Taking Snacks Seriously: Optimizing Nutrient Intakes
3. Check out these kid-friendly healthy snack ideas:
Kid Friendly Healthy Snack Recipes
4. Share this video with families to encourage healthy snacking.
The saying goes that if you eat food, wear clothes or have wood in your house, you have some connection to agriculture. The dairy industry in particular is important to agriculture in California. Dairy is California's number one agricultural commodity, valued at $7.6 billion in 20131, and California is the top dairy producing state in the nation2.
Since 1919, California's dairy farmers and milk processors have demonstrated their commitment to community health by funding education and outreach programs through Dairy Council of California. One such program, the Mobile Dairy Classroom Assembly, connects elementary students to agriculture on a daily basis. This original farm-to-school program has been in operation since the 1930s when a dairy farmer became concerned that children in Los Angeles were losing touch with where their food comes from. Today, six skilled instructors visit schools across California every day during the school year to teach children about dairy cow anatomy, five food group nutrition and farming basics.
Agriculture today looks very different than it did earlier in the 20th century. Today farmers increase efficiency by using robotic milking equipment, improve herd health by using radio frequency ID tags and may even create sustainable energy by installing a methane digester, turning waste into energy. But what has not changed is their concern about cow health and their communities.
Please join us in celebrating National Agriculture Day today. Make a point to eat meals with foods from all five food groups. Learn more about agriculture in California- including top commodities- here. Or, get first hand stories about modern dairy farming here. No matter how you choose to celebrate, you're sure to learn something interesting that may help you feel more connected to those who produce the food and fiber that form our daily lives.
Have you hugged a farmer lately?
1. California Agricultural Productions Statistics 2013. http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/. Last accessed 3/17/2015.
2. USDA's National Agriculture Statistics. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1103. Last accessed 3/17/2015.
This site is best viewed in Firefox v.18, Chrome v.24, Safari v.5, Internet Explorer v.9 and mobile devices. Some features on this site require popups to be enabled.
Healthyeating.org is brought to you by Dairy Council of California. The mission of this website is to educate on issues of nutrition and healthy eating. For instance, our calcium calculator helps people decide how much of the recommended daily allowance of calcium they need (and are getting); our 'healthy eating quiz’ is a nutrition test and assessment tool or online nutrition app useful for parents and teachers interested in nutrition and health. Our free nutrition lesson plans help teachers from kindergarten to high school teach nutrition and healthy eating. And, of course, our milk nutrition and dairy nutrition facts offer information on topics such as milk and bone health and the health benefits of probiotics. While you're here, enjoy tips, online games, and quizzes to help get kids to eat healthy includingkid-friendly recipes!