12, August 2015 3:41 PM

As parents, we want to do everything we can to make sure our children are successful- at home, at school and in life. While back to school is a very busy time for kids, parents and teachers alike, spending some time talking about snacks can potentially make a big difference this school year.

Nutrition + Academic Performance Linked

A healthy, balanced diet is linked with academic achievement. In fact, the absence of certain food groups or nutrients in a child's diet can negatively impact grades and attendance. Kids who don't eat enough fruits, vegetables and milk and dairy foods tend to get lower grades than students who do meet dietary recommendations. 

Furthermore, deficits of specific nutrients like vitamins A, B6, B12, C, folate, iron, zinc and calcium are associated with lower grades and higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness among students. 

Room for Improvement in Kid Snack Choices

Many parents are unaware that poor snacking habits could negatively impact their child's academic performance, so Dairy Council of California encourages parents to pay special attention to snack options during back-to-school season. Research shows that kids get nearly one quarter of their daily calories from snacks- making snacks almost like the fourth meal of the day. 

Unfortunately, research also shows that healthy foods are NOT what's commonly on a child's snack tray. Kids are far more likely to snack on sweets or crunchy, salty snacks than nutrient rich food group foods. So there's plenty of room for snack improvement to help fuel academic success this school year. 

When parents plan, prepare and present healthy snacks for kids that combine 2-3 food group foods, then healthy snacking can help overcome nutrient shortfalls, improve diet quality and set kids up for academic success. Add underconsumed food groups such as milk and dairy foods, vegetables, fruits and whole grains to kids' snacks to help provide nutrients needed for healthy growth and development. 

Avoid a battle of wills with your child by selecting snacks that are fun and tasty while being nutritious too. Parents can't go wrong with these healthy snack recipes for kids and the tip sheet Healthy Snacks for Home and School offers additional snacking ideas that combine food group foods. 

While what's available on hand for snacking is important, making the healthy choice the easy choice is important too. Check out Nine Hacks for Healthy Snacks for tips on how to set up your kitchen to promote healthier snack choices for kids and adults. This healthy snacking video also helps kids learn the benefits of making healthy snack choices at home and after school. 

Smart Snacking at School

While parents can control snacking options at home, what about school? New criteria established by the Smart Snacks in Schools regulations means that all foods sold during the school day must meet certain nutrition standards. Once these regulations are implemented they will apply to all foods sold on campus, including a la cart items, school stores and in vending machines. Additionally, teachers can establish healthy classroom policies to kick chips out of the classroom.

With these tips and tools, back-to-school is the perfect time to step up your snacking game to improve nutrition and academic achievement.



MacLellan D, Taylor J, Wood K. Food intake and academic performance among adolescents. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research. 2008;69(3):141–144.

Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M, Dixon LB, Resnick MD, Blum RW. Correlates of inadequate consumption of dairy products among adolescents. Journal of Nutrition Education. 1997;29(1):12–20.

Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M, Resnick MD, Blum RW. Correlates of inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption among adolescents. Preventive Medicine. 1996;25(5):497–505.

Basch CE. Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in Efforts to Close the Achievement Gap. New York: New York. Columbia University; 2010. http:// EquityMattersVol6_Web03082010.pdf Accessed February 26, 2014.

Kleinman RE, Hall S, Green H, Korzec-Ramirez D, Patton K, Pagano, ME, Murphy JM. Diet, breakfast, and academic performance in children. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism. 2002;46(suppl 1):24–30.

Taras, H. Nutrition and student performance at school. Journal of School Health. 2005;75(6):199–213.




Tags: food group foods healthy eating for kids nutrition and achievement snacking
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids

01, August 2015 9:00 AM

Squeeze the last few drops of fun from this summer before getting into the back to school swing. Celebrate a uniquely American holiday, enjoy some no-cook and low-cook recipes, go down south and then get some great tips for packing lunch for back to school. The whole family can help plan, prepare and enjoy these healthy, balanced meals with foods from all five food groups. 

August Family Meal Recipes

Get Sneaky

Zucchini Rice Casserole with Tandoori Chicken and Strawberry Almond Parfaits; plus Zucchini Stew, Chocolate Zucchini Cake, Zucchini Quiche and Cheese Herb Zucchini.

Chill Out

Italian Vegetable Hoagies with Aztec Salad and Raspberry Mango Sundae; plus Chickpea Spread aka Hummus, Balsamic Vinegar Tomatoes, Chicken Wraps with California Dried Plums and Apples, and Refrigerator Oatmeal.

Kids Can Cook

Apple Cheddar Panini, Broccoli and Cheese and Peaches and Cream Pops; plus Mini Maui Pizza Pies, Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip, Double Cheddar Mashed Potatoes and Kale and Spinach Chips.


Shrimp + Cheddar Grits, Green Beans with Pine Nuts and Roasted Peach Sundaes; plus Glazed Sweet Potatoes and California Dried Plums with GingerCucumber Tomato Salad, Mom's Macaroni and Cheese and Chili Cornbread Pie.

Get Packing

Sweetie Pie Quesadillas, Dunkin’ Vegetables and Minted Fruit Salad; plus Honey Baked BananasChicken Crunchers, Lemon Dill Carrots and Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies.

Tags: family meals food group foods Healthy eating holidays recipes
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

01, July 2015 9:00 AM

Don't let healthy eating go on vacation this summer. We've compiled fun, healthy family meals that will keep nutrition on the table all summer long. We've even featured low- and no-cook recipes to help you beat the heat!

July Family Meal Recipes


Baked Parmesan Tomatoes with Apple Tuna Sandwiches and Frozen Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana Pops; plus Berry Smoothie Pancakes, Bella Pasta Salad, Pita Pizzas and Sweet Sour Deviled Eggs.

Fast + Fresh Family Fiesta

Zu- CanoesGrilled Chicken Breasts with Smoky California Dried Plums and Chipotle Mole and Mango Salad; plus Corn con Carne, Mini Chile Relleno Casseroles, Strawberries with Cream and Jicama Salad with Lime Juice and Mint.

From the Garden

Creamy Garlic Pasta with Shrimp & Vegetables, Steamed Broccoli and Mango Melon Salad with Strawberry Sauce; plus Fresh Tomato Soup Au Gratin, Beef with Broccoli, Creamy Crookneck Squash + Arugula Wraps and Strawberry Vanilla Yogurt Waffles.

Beat the Heat: Breakfast

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Breakfast Custard, Yogurt Fruit Salad and Vegetable Medley Drink; plus Apple Bagel SandwichesStrawberry Breakfast Sandwiches, Fresh Fruit Burritos and Roast Beef Hash with Eggs.

Tags: family meals food-group foods Healthy eating holidays recipes
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating categoryHealthy Eating

19, June 2015 4:24 PM

As part of on ongoing efforts to elevate the health of children and parents in California through the pursuit of healthy eating habits, Dairy Council of California is proud once again to join health educators, community leaders and others as a silver level sponsor of the 2015 Childhood Obesity Conference: Collective Impact, Developing a Shared Vision to Achieve Greater Success in San Diego, CA from June 29 – July 2.

This conference is the nation’s largest, most influential collaboration of professionals dedicated to combating pediatric obesity/overweight. Nearly 2,000 attendees from across the country are expected to attend in 2015, to share and discuss emerging research, best practices, community-based efforts and effective policy strategies that promote and sustain healthy eating and physical activity practices for children, adolescents and their families!

Be sure to visit us at booth 218 in the exhibit hall to explore the variety of educational materials available to support both families, health and education professionals. The following is an outline of other Dairy Council of California activities during the conference and a link to the full conference program guide. We hope to see you there!

Monday, June 29

Smarter Lunchrooms: How the Collective Impact Results in a National Movement! (Pre-conference session) 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
It’s not nutrition until it’s eaten!” Smarter Lunchrooms Movement (SLM), which was developed by Cornell University with funding from USDA, nudges children to make good food decisions and increase consumption of healthy foods. Join us to learn more about this national movement.  

Tuesday, June 30

A "Whole" New Look at School Lunch: Perceptions Matter 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. 
Schools are under pressure to provide healthy school meals students will eat. This thought-provoking session looks at how the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement (SLM) promotes holistic changes that improve student consumption of healthy foods. More information available here.

Evaluation Frameworks Designed to Measure Public Health Impact 11:00 a.m.  – 12:15 p.m.
How do you measure the public health impact of a population-based effort? This session explores the use of the RE-AIM framework & a systematic methodology for quantifying intensity change based on event duration, population reach and strategy to evaluate the public health impact. 

Thursday, July 2

Creating a Culture of Wellness through Common Core: Strategies and Promising Practice (Roundtable) 8:20 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.
Creating a culture of wellness in our schools is a national priority issue. Together attendees will explore strategies and promising practices to support nutrition education being taught in classrooms with a focus on Common Core State Standards. 

MINI-PLENARY: Stress, Youth & Obesity: Rethinking how emotion plays a role in eating behaviors 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Our brain’s response to psychological stress can lead to lowered executive function and potentially poor eating habits as early as preschool. Learn how maternal stress, modeling behaviors and the environment make a difference in childhood obesity. Discover the benefits of stress reduction and mindfulness strategies to enable healthier behaviors and decision-making. The relationship between stress, brain function and food choices will also be explored during this session. 

Poster Presentations

Poster viewing is scheduled for June 30th, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and July 1, 10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Booth 18: California Local School Wellness Policy Collaborative: Inspiring California Schools in Implementing Strong Wellness Policies presented by Dairy Council of California Shannan Young and California Department of Education Heather Reed, et al.

Booth 67: Kindergarten Nutrition Education Builds a Strong Foundation in Healthy Eating by Dairy Council of California Trina Robertson and University of Southern California Genevieve Dunton, et al.

Booth 105: The Collective Impact of California’s Approach to Smarter Lunchrooms by UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program Michele Byrnes and Dairy Council of California Shannan Young, et al.

Shannan Young, R.D.N., S.N.S., Senior Project Manager 

Tags: healthy dietary patterns Healthy eating obesity school wellness smarter lunchrooms
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

16, June 2015 3:42 PM

In honor of June Dairy Month, we're shining the spotlight on both dairy foods and the families that produce them. Milk + milk products are "feel good" foods not only because of their nutritional value and the decades of scientific research confirming the essential role they play in a healthy diet, but also because dairy farmers are stewards of the environment and play a big role in conservation and sustainability. 

 In California, strict environmental regulations, as well as longstanding water concerns, have compelled many farmers to take pioneering steps to conserve their natural resources. 

Some steps, like solar panels, are similar to the same steps being taken by homeowners in communities across California. Others, like a brand new process to convert manure to diesel, generating fertilizer and purified water in the process, are more revolutionary in scope. 

These efforts share the common thread that dairy farmers live and work in their communities and go to great lengths to do what's right for their business, right for their environment and right for their community. For these reasons and many more, we're highlighting New Hope, Curtimade and Scott Brothers Dairies as our June 2015 Community Health All-Stars

Cows Do Their Part Too

Did you know that cows are natural recyclers? Part of a cow's diet includes agricultural byproducts like cotton seed hulls or blemished produce that might otherwise go into a landfill.

Let's Work Together

In addition to the efforts underway at dairies across California and the country, sustainability starts at home. Limiting food waste, being mindful of our water use and limiting car trips are all simple ways we can better conserve our natural resources. Check out more ways to improve sustainability beyond the dairy, at work, at home and on-the-go.

How do you reduce, reuse and recycle?


Tags: cheese community health community health all-stars milk sustainability yogurt
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

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