By: Shannan Young, RDN, SNS
Starting in 1937, National Milk Month was established to promote drinking more milk. In 1939 the campaign was changed to National Dairy Month and has continued as a monthlong celebration of dairy foods and the dairy community each June ever since.
June Is Dairy Month acknowledges the dairy community’s contributions to healthy, sustainable eating patterns in the United States and around the world. Dairy foods have been an important part of cultures for thousands of years, contributing to healthy eating patterns and family traditions.
Today, California dairy farms are leading the way in developing climate-smart farming practices. With increasing focus on building healthy, sustainable food systems, the California dairy community is making significant strides to reduce gas emissions and overall environmental impact while providing nutritious, locally produced foods for communities.
June Is Dairy Month is a chance to celebrate all aspects of dairy and the many delicious and nutritious dairy foods people enjoy each day.
Dairy farm families pride themselves on producing wholesome dairy foods and milk that support good health for children and adults. Dairy foods are a natural source of nutrition with a unique combination of nutrients to support overall health for people of all ages.
Young children and adolescents have nutritional needs that differ from other age groups. Dairy foods play a critical role in providing the nutrients they need for optimal growth and development. Milk and dairy foods offer a unique combination of nutrients especially important in infancy, childhood and adolescence when physical and cognitive growth is in a critical phase. Young children who do not meet the daily recommended servings of dairy milk, yogurt and cheese may have inadequate intakes of important nutrients and protein necessary for bone health, muscle growth, cognitive development and more1, and is why milk and dairy foods are included in school meal programs.
Dawn Soto, a Let’s Eat Healthy award winner and Senior Training Specialist in the Food Services Division for the Los Angeles Unified School District, shares her thoughts on the value of dairy:
“Milk is LEGEN-DAIRY! Not only is milk delicious, but it can also help promote healthy bones, vibrant skin and strong teeth. It’s nature’s nearly perfect food. Have a glass today with your school meal!”
Adults also need to consume milk and dairy foods daily because
the nutrients they contain (protein, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc and vitamin K) are needed to maintain health throughout the life span. The important role dairy plays in supporting strong bones and teeth is well known, but that’s
not all that dairy has to offer.2 There is a growing body of research that links consuming milk and dairy foods with a lower risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and heart disease.3,4 A recent study including participants from 21 countries demonstrated a link between consuming two or more servings of dairy daily and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke,5 and numerous studies have shown positive associations
between dairy intake and blood pressure control.6,7
Dairy foods also support gut health, as milk, yogurt and cheese have a unique dairy matrix that contains nutrients, bioactive compounds and other biological components that work together to support digestion, absorption and immunity.
There are many ways to appreciate the wide variety of milk and dairy foods that contribute to healthy, sustainable and delicious eating patterns. Celebrate with one or more of these activities:
1. Cheer for milk! Kick off June Is Dairy Month by raising a cold glass of nutritious milk with your students, family or community on Thursday, June 1, 2023—World Milk Day. Recognize the dairy community and milk’s contribution to healthy eating patterns by sharing a photo or video on social media with the hashtag #JuneIsDairyMonth.
2. Taste new dairy foods. Try unfamiliar or cultural dairy-based foods such as:
• Kefir, a fermented milk drink
• Mango lassi, a traditional Indian drink
• Mexican cheeses such as queso Oaxaca and cotija
3. Learn about dairy’s role in sustainable nutrition. Watch this episode of the family-friendly broadcast series Let’s Eat Healthy Together: Farm to You to learn how milk goes from the farm to you and the role cows play in sustainable nutrition.
4. Share milk and dairy education with your community. Dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese are essential to healthy eating patterns. The Milk + Dairy Foods tip sheet can help you share the benefits of milk and dairy foods, as well as meal ideas, with your community. Order your free tip sheets in English or Spanish at HealthyEating.org/TipSheets.
5. Spread the word. Share your June Is Dairy Month celebrations on social media! Use the hashtag #JuneIsDairyMonth and tag @HealthyEatingCA on Facebook and Instagram for a chance to be featured on Dairy Council of California social media channels.
Celebrating National Dairy Month in June recognizes the hard work and dedication of dairy farmers and processors and highlights milk and dairy foods’ valuable nutritional benefits for people of all ages. There are so many reasons to celebrate milk and dairy foods in June and all year long.
Learn more about the Let’s Eat Healthy Initiative and join at HealthyEating.org/Join.
Shannan Young, RDN, SNS
Shannan Young, RDN, SNS
Shannan is the Program Officer of Partnerships and Programs with over 20 years of experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist.
Join us in celebrating World Milk Day on June 1st in honor of June is Dairy Month!
Dairy Council of California invites you to join the global celebration on World School Milk Day!