16, July 2018 3:32 PM

Milk cooler donated by California Milk Advisory Board featuring Dairy Council of California nutrition education via the cling.Throughout the 2017–2018 school year, Dairy Council of California partnered with California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) to improve the school nutrition environment. CMAB worked with Community Nutrition Advisers (CNAs) to identify school foodservice departments in need of new milk coolers.

Thanks to involvement in the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of CA, CNAs were able to connect CMAB with districts and schools to place the milk coolers. CNAs further enhanced the relationship and commitment to the schools by providing additional cafeteria support, Smarter Lunchrooms Movement advising, nutrition posters and classroom nutrition education materials for students and families.

In total, 21 milk coolers were placed in schools across the state. The accompanying nutrition education included milk promotion events, milk cooler posters, food group posters and classroom nutrition curriculum.


(ABOVE: Bret Harte Elementary School,
Burbank Unified School District)
CNA Heather Berkoben hosts a milk cooler welcome party with nutrition education at Rancho Viejo.

The donations were celebrated with CNA-hosted events to highlight the importance of milk in the reimbursable meal. Foodservice directors and staff shared their appreciation for the new equipment.

"The milk cooler has been a welcome switch in our serving line as well.  With a shorter style of cooler, my staff have been able to showcase our milk selection more effectively ... Children have a place to set their plate when selecting their milk. This helps increase the number of students SELECTING milk as part of their meal ... This is the quicker way to ensure our students have a reimbursable meal.” —April Mackill, Nutrition Services Manager Plumas Lake Elementary School District

(ABOVE: Heather Berkoben, CNA leads celebration
at Rancho Viejo Middle School, Hemet Unified School District)

Milk displayed without refrigeration at Sutherland Elementary School in California before cooler donation.After Image of Milk Cooler with Cling at Sutherland Elementary School in CaliforniaMilk cooler posters, featured in the Bret Harte image at the top of the article and in the Sutherland image at right, are another way CNAs worked on a local level with schools to increase access to milk.

Adding milk posters to the coolers provided additional nutrition education, explaining how the various nutrients in milk promote health. Over 100 posters were placed on coolers to increase access to milk in school cafeterias. 

Together, the milk coolers, nutrition education and posters achieved great results. At Sutherland Elementary in Lodi Unified School District, switching milk from a cart  (pictured at left) to a cooler (pictured at right) increased milk sales by 30 cartons per day. 

Additionally, average daily participation in Sutherland's school meals program increased by 40 meals a day after adding the milk coolers. More students participating in the school meal program means more access to healthy, balanced meals that include milk- a positive outcome for the students and the schools.

Phoebe Copp
CNA Supervisor

Tags: cafeteria connections California Milk Advisory Board Healthy eating nutrition education Phoebe Copp school cafeteria smarter lunchrooms movement of CA students
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

27, June 2018 8:00 AM

Summer break is in full swing across the country, but it's no time to let healthy eating go on vacation. About 2 million of the California children who rely on free and reduced meals at school miss out on USDA’s free Summer Food Service Program, potentially putting their health and academic achievement at risk.

Breakfasts and lunches served at libraries, parks, pools, schools and other locations over the summer provide healthy food including milk for all kids and teens 18 and under, with no paperwork, no questions and no cost.

Communities across California are pooling resources to provide fun activities at summer meal sites. “When it comes to kids and teens, having something to do can be even more appealing than something to eat,” said Alyson Foote, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, project manager for Dairy Council of California (CA). “That’s why we are working with community organizations, nonprofits, schools, libraries and more to provide fun activities and free promotional resources for summer meals to keep healthy eating on the menu for all California children 18 and under this summer.”

A robust compilation of literacy, STEM and nutrition activities, as well as additional promotional resources are available in the Fuel Your Summer toolkit from the Sacramento Summer Meals Collaborative led by United Way California Capital Region. 

For a host of promotional and activity flyers, PSAs in Spanish or from NFL players, and more, visit

Dairy Council of CA's Community Nutrition Advisers are another key asset to community members seeking summer meals activities and resources. Contact your local adviser for more activity and promotion ideas, including this fun MyPlate, MyState milk activity sheet perfect for Farm to Summer Week, July 9-13.

Sara Floor, MA
Project Manager II, Communications and Food Access

Tags: activities Alyson Foote food access food groups food insecurity Healthy eating milk Sara Floor summer meals
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids

21, June 2018 3:48 PM

PBS Stars the Burgess Brothers Raise a Milk Carton to California Dairy Farm FamiliesJune is National Dairy Month (June Dairy Month). Dairy Council of California (CA) celebrates everything dairy with key organizations in the community, highlighting the work that dairy farm families and milk processors do to elevate the health of children and families in California, across the country and around the globe. 

World Milk Day

Dairy Council of CA kicked off June Dairy Month by celebrating World Milk Day on June 1. Partnering with International Dairy Federation and the Undeniably Dairy campaign, we asked individuals and organizations to ”raise a glass” to dairy farm families and milk processors.

Nearly 20 photos from notables including California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, Senator Dr. Richard Pan, PBS stars the Burgess Brothers and more filled social media channels with 24 hours of dairy-positive stories and nutrition Children and adults enjoy a free summer meal picnic at the California messages.  

Summer Meals Promotion

June Dairy Month coincides with the launch of USDA’s summer meals program, which provides healthy meals including milk free to all children 18 and under when schools are out.

Mobile Dairy Classroom was a featured guest at A Picnic at the Capitol, sponsored by the Sacramento Summer Meals Collaborative to serve nutrition education, fun and food to more than 1,250 participants.School children visit Dairy Council of CA's Mobile Dairy Classroom at the California Capitol.

"Last year we fed about 600,000 kids. We said we need to get a lot more sites so we can reach the kids where they are over the summer," said State Senator Dr. Richard Pan to provide content for his stated goal of a million meals served in Sacramento over the 2018 summer. "(I) really appreciate all the people stepping up and making this happen." 

Sacramento’s picnic was just one of many summer meal kick-off events planned for June. In San Bernardino County, Dairy Council of CA staff A young boy enjoys the ag information board in Rialto.exhibited at two kick-offs reaching more than 1,500 participants.Hollandia's milking cow demonstration was udderly enjoyed in Rialto.

In addition to important partners such as the county Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention Program and Department of Public Health, Hollandia Dairy was on hand promoting milk and dairy foods with a cardboard milkable cow and  ice cream for everyone.

One participant couldn’t keep his devotion to dairy to himself, “I drink about four cups of milk a day because I love milk!” exclaimed 7th grade student Traevaughn Nelson as he approached the Dairy Council of CA exhibit.

Additional events from San Diego to Pittsburg, CA are planned through the end of the month. Attendees will learn more about summer meals and the imporant role that milk and dairy foods play in healthy eating patterns during these exciting community events. 

June Dairy Month Partnerships

Dairy Council of CA staff shared their nutrition knowledge and expertise during California Milk Advisory Board's #ReturntoRealNutrition blogger event in San Francisco on June 7.  Kristal Shelden offers expert advice on nutrition trends at a CMAB blogger event.  

California based lifestyle and fitness bloggers learned how Dairy Council of CA’s Trend Report can help them offer targeted content to their followers. Topics shared included science-based nutrition updates on dairy and saturated fat research, trends on how millennials are influencing food choices, dairy’s positive role in plant-based eating patterns and the multiple health benefits of fermented dairy foods. 

Raise a Glass

Partnering with leaders in the community to elevate the health of children and families can come in many forms. All of the June Dairy Month celebrations combine partnerships, promotions and community to share the multiple health benefits of California’s number one agricultural product, milk. Chef Dr. Julia Nordgren shares the importance of dairy at a CMAB blogger event.

James Winstead, RDN
Industry Relations Manager

Tags: California Milk Advisory Board James Winstead June Dairy Month mobile dairy classroom nutrition education nutrition trends summer meals
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

09, May 2018 10:51 AM

In April, our Silicon Valley Dietetic Book Club reviewed, The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong—and how Eating More Might Save Your Life by the Doctor of Pharmacy and Cardiovascular Research Scientist, James DiNicolantonio. His primary thesis: salt isn’t the dietary culprit that we have been led to believe, and the vast majority of Americans don’t need to restrict their sodium intake. Instead, this book suggests the real dietary villain is sugar. 

The author puts forward an evidence-based argument that consuming too little salt causes hunger and increases cravings for sugar. This can lead to weight gain which has negative secondary health consequences such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes increased blood pressure and heart rate. 

The book claims there is little evidence that a low-sodium diet will reduce blood pressure in the majority of people. “Evidence in the medical literature suggests that approximately 80 percent of people with normal blood pressure (less than 120/80 mmHg) are not sensitive to the blood-pressure-raising effects of salt at all. Among those with prehypertension, roughly 75 percent are not sensitive to salt. And even among those with full-blown hypertension, about 55 percent are totally immune to salt’s effects on blood pressure.” 

Dr. DiNicolantonio is not alone in questioning the Dietary Guidelines for American’s (DGA) sodium recommendations  of <2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. In fact, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened an expert panel on the topic in 2013, concluding that insufficient evidence exists to support the current DGA's recommendations for dietary sodium1.

Areas of Agreement

Additional factors are likely at play in the sodium-blood pressure relationship that were not recognized in the past. For example, potassium intake may lower blood pressure2,3,4, while high body mass index, low physical activity levels, sugar and alcohol intake and tobacco use are additional factors that may raise blood pressure. In fact, we agreed that the real problem may not be what people are eating in excess (e.g. sodium) but what is missing, specifically fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and physical activity. Further, we agree that if adding salt to vegetables increases vegetable consumption, then that is a good trade off.

Where We Differed

When a claim in a nutrition book sounds too good to be true, it usually isn’t. The book claims that by eating all the salt you desire you can:

  • “Improve everything, from your sleep, energy and mental fitness, fertility and sexual performance,”
  • “And stave off common chronic illnesses including heart disease.”

This article published in the Guardian takes it further and describes the recommendations in the book to be dangerous to public health. 

Bottom line

As health professionals it is important to acknowledge that politics can get in the way of effective decision-making. Well-meaning groups, individuals following agendas and old paradigms can influence committees to formulate policies that may or may not align with scientific facts. We must remain critical thinkers and review the science rather than accept recommendations blindly. 

Until the recommendations are more definitive, health professionals who work in clinical settings need to individualize, individualize, individualize. Acknowledge that the DGAs are a starting point for the public, and were never intended to be rigidly adopted by the individual. Ask about family history; assess body weight; examine other lifestyle factors; consider taste, culture, tradition, preferences … and then make recommendations that are feasible, realistic and appropriate for each individual client.


Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN
Director, Resource Development and Marketing

Kristal Shelden, MPH, RDN
Project Manager, Nutrition Sciences


1. Institute of Medicine. Sodium Intake in Populations: Assessment of Evidence. 2013. National Academies Press: Washington, DC, 2013.

2. O'Donnell M, Mente A, Rangarajan S et al. Urinary sodium and potassium excretion, mortality, and cardiovascular events. N Engl J Med 2014.

3. National High Blood Pressure Education Program Working Group. The fourth report on the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure in children and adolescents. Pediatrics 2004. 

4. Buendia et al. Longitudinal effects of dietary sodium and potassium on adolescent blood pressure. JAMA Ped 2015.

Tags: consensus science Dietary Guidelines for Americans healthy eating patterns Kristal Shelden Maureen Bligh registered dietitian book club sodium

17, April 2018 10:00 AM

Today, more than ever, consumers are genuinely interested in where their food comes from. However, in a world of information at our fingertips, it can be difficult to distinguish what is factual, and what is not. Last month, Dairy Council of California helped 20 registered dietitian nutritionists go directly to the source of their dairy foods with a trip to a dairy in Galt, CA as a California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND) Public Policy Workshop pre-conference tour. 

Dairy Council of CA staff and board members Stephen Weststeyn, a third generation dairy farmer from Willows, CA; Sarah Goreham with Sunnyside Farms; and farm manager Arlin Van Groningen accompanied attendees on the bus and on the farm, sharing their passion and commitment to dairy farming and milk processing. Along the way, attendees learned about cattle feed, animal welfare, milking practices and production, milk processing safety, dairy farming sustainability and milk processing beyond the farm. 

As dietitians focused on helping humans get the right combination of nutrients for optimal health, attendees really seemed to enjoy a presentation from dairy feed nutritionist John Kennedy. Kennedy explained how dairy cow nutrition works, feed mixing ratios for optimal nutrition and even how cow biology enables them to convert agricultural waste products like cotton seed and almond hulls into nutritious milk. 

Dairy sustainability was a popular topic during the tour as attendees viewed a methane digester on the dairy, which turns cow manure into renewable energy, such as electricity.

Reflecting on the day, attendees walked away with a deeper understanding of California’s top agricultural product, milk, and the hard work that goes into dairy foods from cow to container. In post tour surveys, attendees shared what they learned about dairy farming:

“A lot. Great to learn about the ruminant stomach and how it works. That to have high production cows must be well fed and live in a low stress environment.” 

“Everything! Knowing nothing going in, I definitely gained knowledge and respect for dairy farmers.”

“It's efficient and very scientific.”

“Dairy farming is a labor of love and labor intensive!”

Attending a farm tour- whether to a dairy, a vegetable farm or an orchard- provides an opportunity for health professionals, educators and consumers to learn first-hand about the work that is required to grow and raise nutritious food that feeds the world. If you are interested in hosting a future tour at your dairy, please contact me at [email protected] 

James Winstead, RDN
Industry Relations Manager

Tags: Dairy Farm Tour nutrition education registered dietitian nutritionist sustainability
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

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