08, July 2016 9:42 AM

Tammy Anderson-Wise, Dairy Council of CA CEO enjoys a summer mealAcross California and the country, schools, community centers, libraries, parks, churches, even apartment complexes are serving free meals for all children ages 1-18 with no paperwork or documentation required. Here, USDA’s Summer Food Service Program is coordinated by the California Department of Education and promoted by a wide range of organizations like United Way and Dairy Council of California (CA). 

Finding a local summer meals site is as simple as texting "Food" or "Comida" for Spanish to 877-877, dialing 2-1-1 in most cities or visiting Summer Food Rocks.

(Above, Tammy Anderson-Wise, CEO of Dairy Council of CA enjoys a summer meal with community members at the Sacramento kickoff event.)

Why is the summer meal program so important? 

Children shouldn't go hungry just because school is out. According to the Food Research and Action Center report, over 80 percent of the 2.4 million California children who participated in the National School Lunch Program during the 2014-2015 school year missed out on the free healthy food provided by USDA's free Summer Food Service Program. 

Nationally, only one out of six children who receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year continue to receive meals during the summer months. Missing out on balanced meals over the summer can put children's health and academic achievement in jeopardy.

Summer Lunchbox Image

What kinds of food are served in the summer meal program?

All summer meals served through the Summer Food Service Program must meet USDA nutritional guidelines and include all of the following:

  • 1 serving of milk
  • 2 servings of fruits and/or vegetables
  • 1 serving of grains
  • 1 serving of protein

How has Dairy Council of CA helped promote summer meals? 

Because summer meals are an underutilized resource to help keep children healthy in California, Dairy Council of CA teamed up with United Way, USDA, CDE, school districts and community groups to raise awareness for summer meals statewide. Through involvement with the Sacramento Summer Meals Collaborative, we helped develop the Sacramento Summer Lunchbox, an online resource kit filled with promotional and educational resources for summer meal sites that can be used across the state. 

Sandip Kaur and Jose Alvarado promote summer meals in Fresno

"Students need to eat nutritious food all year round to succeed in school. During the summer, some children may have their access to food curtailed. That’s why I am so pleased that the Sacramento Summer Meals Collaborative is providing summer meals sponsors with help in managing their programs and in getting word out about these free summer meals,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in a partnership news release about the Collaborative's work.

Additionally, Dairy Council of CA joined San Diego, Fresno and Twin Rivers Unified School District Food Service Departments to coordinate community kickoff events to raise awareness for these free summer meals. Special thanks go out to these departments and districts, as well as the CDE, USDA, CDFA and United Way staff who helped make them so memorable to all children and parents who participated. 

While these kickoffs were great successes, the number of children accessing summer meals tends to drop off after the Fourth of July holiday. Dairy Council of CA is also planning a mid-summer SPIKE event with Natomas Unified School District later this month. 

(Above, Sandip Kaur, Director of the Nutrition Services Division of the California Department of Education and Fresno Unified School District Food Service Director Jose Alvarado pose in front of Mobile Dairy Classroom during the Fresno summer meal kickoff event.)

How are you promoting summer meals in your community?

Share your story in the comments section or on our Facebook page

Tags: balanced meals healthy eating for kids healthy eating for kids
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids

01, July 2016 9:00 AM

This July, celebrate your independence from a steamy, oppressive kitchen with seasonal recipes that come together quickly, are served cold or can be prepared ahead of time- like at night when it's not so hot. Spend more time with your family and less time preparing meals this July.

Be sure to visit the Family Meal Planning page for more information, tips and resources. 

July Family Meal Recipes

Salad Days

Quinoa Salad With Apples and Kale with Apple and Horseradish Glazed Salmon and Blueberry Blackberry Gratin; plus Cabbage and Cherry Salad with Ginger Lemon Dressing, Black Bean and Rice Salad, Asian Beef and Noodle Salad and Potato, Bean and Chile Salad.

Pack a Picnic

Italian Vegetable Hoagies with Cucumber and Tomato Salad and Minted Fruit Salad; plus Apple Yogurt Coleslaw, Pulled Pork with Caramelized Onions, Chicken Crunchers and All-Natural Oatmeal Banana Cookies.

Enjoy Avocados

A.B.C.T. Salad with Zesty Ranch Chicken and Mexican Rice; plus Hip Huevos with Avocado, Chicken with Oranges and Avocados, Shredded Turkey and Pinto Bean Burritos and Southwestern Cheese Panini.

High Heat—Cool Eats

Garlic-Basil Tomatoes with Mozzarella with Chicken Wrap with California Dried Plums and Apples and Limeade Milk Chiller; plus Watermelon and California Feta Salad, Apple Tuna Sandwiches, Cucumber and Tomato Tangy Yogurt Salad and Turkey, Veggie + Cheese Pitas.

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

23, June 2016 3:41 PM

First Bite bookLast month, the San Jose Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Book Club gathered to discuss First Bite by Bee Wilson, an award winning food writer. The book outlines the many factors that lead to our food choices including family and culture (including the food environment), memory, hunger, love and more. The book explores a broad cross-disciplinary view of eating: nutrition, neuroscience, anthropology and history providing a thesis that both adults and children have potential to learn to eat better.

For nutrition junkies like us, this book is a great read since it looks at the whole business of eating from the very broadest perspective. The history of children’s food is fascinating. Throughout most of history, children’s food was not a separate category, they ate what adults ate but less of it. In the hierarchy of a working family, parents (especially fathers) got most of the protein, since the man did manual labor to provide food for the family. 

In the 1870s, the middle and upper classes developed the concept of children’s food which was bland and flavorless since flavorful food was deemed too dangerous for children. The modern notion of “kid food” emerged after WWII. Parents raised on rice pudding and porridge wanted their children to enjoy eating. Post-war kid food became “fun” and flavored with fat, sugar and salt.  

Take-away recommendations:

  • Eating is a learned behavior and we have the ability to learn new eating habits at any age.
  • Follow structured mealtimes.
  • Respond to internal cues for hunger and fullness.
  • Change habits and preferences until delicious food and healthy food are one and the same.

Insights for pregnant women and new mothers:

  • Eat as wide a variety of foods (from all five food groups) as possible. What you eat impacts the future food preferences of your child.
  • Between the ages of 4 to 7 months of age, there seems to be a window of receptivity to new flavors. Introduce a wide variety of new tastes to infants (in very small, pea-sized bites) while the lion’s share of calories are provided from breast milk or infant formula. 

San Jose Registered Dietitians Book Club meeting Most dietitians in our group (pictured at left) are also mothers and reared children when it was recommended that highly allergenic foods (like eggs and peanuts) be introduced later to avoid the development of allergies. Newer recommendations now encourage feeding foods in small portions that are potentially allergenic since early introduction of these foods reduces the likelihood of future allergies.

Recommendations from the book are similar to Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility and Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch’s Intuitive Eating approach. It adds a new dimension to attempt to broaden the palate of children by introducing foods in small pea-size bites in ways that are fun and do not force or pressure children to eat foods (that is known to backfire). The book is filled with tips on how to do this effectively. 

Additional topics in the book include hunger, disordered eating (from conditions such as anorexia and autism) and dietary counseling. These chapters are well written and carefully referenced. Our only complaint about the book is that it is “pretty dense” and a slow read, but worth the time to plow through it.

We wholeheartedly recommend First Bite to highly interested parents (this is not written for the consumer) and health professionals who work with children. 

Maureen Bligh, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Kristal Shelden, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

American Academy of Pediatrics, Infant Food and Feeding recommendations. 
Fleischer, David M. et al. (2015) Consensus communication on early peanut introduction and the prevention of peanut allergy in high-risk infants. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 136 (2), 258 - 261.
Carol, A. (2016, April 25). Avoiding Peanuts to Avoid an Allergy Is a Bad Strategy for Most. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Tags: Dietitians Book Review division of responsibility healthy dietary patterns Healthy eating Maureen Blig nutrition research
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

10, June 2016 3:53 PM

After a years-long process, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released their planned changes to the Nutrition Facts labelthat black and white rectangle of nutrition information on the back or side of food packages. 

Last revamped over 20 years ago, this label revision is designed to align with current nutrition science, better reflect what Americans are actually eating and draw attention to calories and nutrients of public health concern. 

The new label should make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices and adopt healthy eating patterns, in line with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

FDA Explanation New Nutrition Facts Label

What's New on the Label?

From top to bottom, here are the big changes we can expect:

  • The “Serving Size” and “Servings per Container” will be larger font and more consistent with what people actually eat. For example, instead of a serving of ice cream being 1/2 cup, it will now be 2/3 cup; yogurt will be 6 ounces (oz.) instead of 8 oz. This will make it easier to determine how many calories are in commonly-consumed servings (instead of having to do the math).
  • The “Calories” row will be much larger and in bold font. With our nation’s burgeoning incidence of overweight across all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic levels, highlighting calories should help people assess and compare how many are in a serving of any particular food … and make appropriate decisions.
  • “Calories from Fat” will be eliminated, due to new research showing that type of fat is more important than total fat in one’s health. Grams of fat, saturated fat and trans fat will still be listed, as well as percent Daily Value (DV).
  • A row for “Added Sugars” will be added to differentiate between total and added sugars. Various public health groups recommend Americans decrease their intake of added sugars out of concern over obesity, tooth decay and displacement of healthier foods. It is hoped that this will help consumers identify foods that are significant sources of added sugars, as well as identify foods like milk and fruit that contain natural sugar, in order to make informed decisions.
  • All four of the nutrients deemed “under consumed” by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee—calcium, fiber, potassium and vitamin D—now must be listed on the label. The current version only requires calcium and vitamin D. This will make it easier for consumers to identify sources of these nutrients and increase their intake if needed for healthy eating patterns. 
  • The section on nutrient DVs will be consistent with new nutrition research, and feature a footnote to better explain what they are.

What is the timeframe for the new label to be updated on food products?

  • Because it is a very laborious process to change packaged food labels, FDA is giving food manufacturers 2 years to implement these changes—so by July 26, 2018. For smaller companies with less than $10 million in annual food sales, they will have an additional year. Until then, we may start seeing some products with the new label rolled out—but likely on a product-by-product or brand basis.

How can health professionals help clients make the most of the revised labels?

  • Point out the specific aspects of the Nutrition Facts label that will help individual clients. If someone is watching their weight, the enlarged calories and more realistic serving sizes on packaged foods will aid them. If someone doesn’t consume many milk and dairy foods, they will want to ensure they are getting enough calcium and vitamin D. A frequent soda consumer may be surprised at their “Added sugars” intake, and be motivated to make appropriate modifications.
  • Educate them that “Added sugars” is a component of “Total sugars” and that many nutrient-dense foods have added or natural sugars. Fruit and milk, for example, contain natural sugars in the form of fructose and lactose. Many breakfast cereals and some yogurts have added sugars but are loaded with other nutrients. Consumers need to look at the whole nutrient package, not singular nutrients, in making food-choice decisions.
  • Counsel clients that healthy eating patterns can include favorite foods even if each individual food isn’t necessarily nutrient-rich.  Modifications can be made throughout the day—and even week—to eat a healthy diet overall without focusing on individual foods.
  • Remind clients that Daily Values (DVs) are best used to compare different products … for example, fiber in breakfast cereals. For certain nutrients—calcium, vitamin D, fiber and potassium—absolute amounts as well as DVs will be listed on labels.

How will you use the revised label, both in your personal life and with your clients? 

Log in to share your ideas in the comments below, or continue the conversation on Facebook

For more information on the upcoming changes to the Nutrition Facts label, read FDA’s news release.

Lori Hoolihan, Ph.D., R.D.N.

Tags: Healthy eating healthy eating patterns nutrition research recommendations
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

01, June 2016 9:00 AM

It's our favorite time of the year.  June is National Dairy Month, which also coincides with World Milk Day on June 1. So we're celebrating with some dairy delicious family meal recipes, of course.

June also means that school is getting out, and having kids at home over the summer can tack an additional $300 per month on to a family's food bill. We've got some tips and tricks in store to minimize the impact on your pocket book while making sure that learning and healthy eating don't take off for a summer vacation! 

In fact, hosting your own kids' cooking camp will mean you'll have delicious meals, entertained kids and extra help in the kitchen packing lunches come fall. 

Don't forget to plan ahead for a healthy and relaxing Fourth of July Holiday weekend filled with your favorite festive foods.

Be sure to visit the Family Meal Planning page for more information, tips and resources.

June Family Meal Recipes

June is Dairy Month

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Breakfast Custard, Yogurt Fruit Salad with Baked Parmesan Tomatoes; Plus Double-Orange Scones with Orange Butter, Baked Mac + Cheese, Chicken in Yogurt-Cilantro Sauce and Chocolate Peanut Butter Milksicles.

Smart Summer Snacks

Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip, Walking Meal with Warm Chocolate Pudding; Plus Fresh Fruit Burritos, Turkey + Cheese Melt Tortilla Wraps, Potato Skins and Ants on a Log.

Kid's Cooking Camp

Pita Pizzas, Kale + Spinach Chips with Berry Good Banana Smoothies; Plus Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas Verdes, Tabbouleh Salad, Turkey Waldorf Salad and Tuna Noodle Casserole.

Pre-Fab Fourth

Red, White and Blue Cheese Sliders, Aztec Salad with American Flag Pudding; Plus Beet Salad in Yogurt Sauce, Blueberry Corn Muffins, Bella Pasta Salad and Yogurt Cheesecake.

Tags: balanced meals food group foods Healthy eating healthy eating patterns holidays
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids

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