Dairy Council 100 Years

100-Year History of Dairy Council of California

Dairy Council of California (formerly called California Dairy Council) was established on Feb 8, 1919. The organization was conceived during San Francisco Bay ferryboat commuter trips by two well-known California dairy industry leaders, Sam H. Greene and Chester Earl Gray after reading about discoveries in the field of nutrition in the early 1900s. Two articles published in Hoards Dairyman1 specifically caught their attention, "The Present Situation in Nutrition" and "The Dairy Industry and Human Welfare" written by Dr. E.V. McCollum from the University of Wisconsin who discovered vitamin A. McCollum characterized vitamin A as a "vital life substance in dairy fat".2

Other significant events happening in the country at this time include the formation of the California Farm Bureau Federation 3 and the formation of the National Dairy Council4 in 1915. Cities around the country were experimenting with school feeding programs in the early 1900s.5 All these events inspired Greene and Gray to bridge the link between nutrition science and dairy products that led to the formation of the non-profit organization California Dairy Council, made up of volunteer producers and distributors. They saw an opportunity to provide service for the public as well as the dairy industry.6

Sam H. Greene was the first secretary-manager and F. J. Cummings was the first president of the newly formed California Dairy Council. Greene served as manager of California Dairy Council for 30 years. Dairy Council’s first order of business upon formation was a statewide survey of school nutrition. California Dairy Council worked with schools and teachers to survey 130,000 school children and found that on average 36% of children in cities did not receive milk on a regular basis.7 The results of this survey were instrumental in adding milk to the school lunch menu. By 1922, California Dairy Council implemented a school milk service to nearly every major city in the state.8 By 1950, per capita daily milk consumption increased by nearly 25 percent.9

The 1920’s and 30’s brought California Dairy Council’s first big strides in nutrition education, beginning with the "Dairy Products for Health" campaign targeting PTA parents. It was a time when many children had rickets and other nutritional deficiencies. "We gave people something of real value without expecting anything in return," said Greene of his efforts. "We did this in the firm belief that when facts about our products reached the people in the form of education, we would reap our rewards in increased use of milk and other dairy products."10

The Mobile Dairy Classroom began in the 1930s as a joint venture between California Dairy Council and Venice, CA dairyman Clarence Michel of Edgemar Farms. Michel would travel weekly to Los Angeles-area schools in a truck built to accommodate a live cow and teach children how milk and dairy foods were produced. After World War II, Dairy Council teamed with Los Angeles City Schools and hired a professional teacher to increase the program’s educational impact. Ultimately, the program expanded to include six trucks and is available throughout most of California.11

In 1945, California Dairy Council was reorganized by the California State Legislature through establishment of the California Dairy Industry Advisory Board. This newly-formed board adopted the principles of California Dairy Council and began working closely with the National Dairy Council. Alfred H Ghormley served as the first chairman of the board and Richard Werner was the first manager. The California Dairy Council continued but as a sub-unit of the California Industry Advisory Board.12

In 1961, California Dairy Council (Joe Hart, president) relinquished its name to the California Dairy Industry Advisory Board and the Advisory Board became Dairy Council of California, giving it a better identification with the educational material used from the National Dairy Council. W. B Woodburn was manager and A.W. Clark was chairman of the board of the newly named Dairy Council of California.13

By 1963 Dairy Council of California had grown to employ 19 staff members in 5 offices. The work of Dairy Council of California expanded beyond schools to include youth clubs, banks, hospitals, medical conventions, and nursing schools.14

In 2009, Dairy Council of California celebrates 90 years of service. In 2007-08 year Dairy Council reached just over 2 million children with classroom programs and Mobile Dairy Classroom; just over 3 million adults in health care settings and parent outreach in schools. Meals Matter website logged over 6 million visits and in January 2013 became HealthyEating.org. 15

In the decade of 2010, Dairy Council of CA’s foundation continued to be creating and delivering California’s leading nutrition education curriculum in schools. But as issues became increasingly complex, no longer could the focus be solely nutrition education. It was also important to ensure access to healthy foods and to influence public policy impacting dietary guidance. To embrace the cause the organization has worked toward since 1919—to elevate the health of children and families through the pursuit of lifelong healthy eating habits—Dairy Council of CA continued to evolve and adapt to those changing times. Strategies were undertaken to ensure milk and dairy foods were available and easily selected in federal feeding programs like school meals and summer feeding. Milk advocacy was a role for all staff, and advocacy training was offered for the dairy industry through workshops and a smart phone app.


The next 100 years - Looking toward the future, Dairy Council of CA sees that education, empowerment and food access remain key to positively positioning milk and dairy foods in the face of opportunities and threats and making sure California’s diverse population can plan milk and dairy foods as a part of healthy eating patterns. Dairy Council of CA is amplifying new research findings by gaining recognition for milk as the nutrition community’s preferred beverage for mothers and young children.

Thanks to the entire dairy industry and their support for community health, the future looks bright for the next 100 years of evolution to achieve healthy eating for Californians through the consumption of milk and dairy foods in all eating patterns, including plant-based, sustainable diets.

1http://www.hoards.com/ Retrieved 2008-12-17.
2Jones, RE, Industry Builder, The Biography of Chester Earl Gray. Pacific Books, Palo Alto, 1948, p.95-99
3http://www.cfbf.com/ Retrieved on 2008-12-17.
4http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/aboutndc/Pages/AboutNDCLanding.aspx Retrieved on 2012-12-21.
5 Gunderson, G. The National School Lunch Program: Background and Development. Retrieved November 26, 2008. USDA Food and Nutrition Service. [http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Lunch/AboutLunch/ProgramHistory_2.htm
6California Dairy Council Annual Report, 1920. Online Archive of California, Guide to California Dairy Industry History Collection. http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt0d5nc666&chunk.id=c02-
7California Dairy Council Annual Report, July 1, 1920
8California Dairy Council Annual Report, 1923. Online Archive of California, Guide to California Dairy Industry History Collection. http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt0d5nc666&chunk.id=c02-
9Dairy Bonanza- California Early Recognized as Ideal Cattle Country,” Argonaut, San Francisco, Calif., September 1, 1950.
10Greene, Samuel H. writings, radio scripts and clippings 1921-1953. Online Archive of California, Guide to California Dairy Industry History Collection. http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt0d5nc666&chunk.id=c02-
11Dairy Council of California News, August 1981.
12Contract between Samuel Greene and California Dairy Council, 28 May, 1946 Online Archive of California, Guide to California Dairy Industry History Collection. http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt0d5nc666&chunk.id=c02-
13Materials relating to dissolution and reformation of organization, 1960-1961, Online Archive of California, Guide to California Dairy Industry History Collection. http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt0d5nc666&chunk.id=c02-
14Dairy Council of California Annual Report, 1964.
15Dairy Council of California Annual Report 2007-08

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