Discover how Dairy Council empowers healthier children, families and communities through nutrition education.
On behalf of the entire staff and board of directors, it is my honor to present the Dairy Council of California 2020–2021 Annual Report—our accomplishments, challenges and decisive steps toward elevating the health of children and families through the pursuit of lifelong healthy eating habits, where milk and dairy foods are positioned as a cornerstone. Serving as the dairy industry’s contribution to community health, Dairy Council of CA provides balanced nutrition education programs and strategic initiatives to advance the health benefits of milk and dairy foods.
We proudly supported the dairy industry with nutrition science expertise and partnered on strategies such as expanding access to milk in schools, creating assets for new ag literacy exhibits and co-hosting the California Dairy Sustainability Summit. We continually assessed industry needs and looked for opportunities to provide greater support and increase dairy visibility.
One of our long-standing strategies has been issues management and communications informed by trends, which enables us to share potential impacts to the dairy industry and shapes our work plan. Our teams focused on what is impactful, amplifying information to the dairy industry and translating, where appropriate, to our partners and customers.
The pandemic catapulted us into the future as we worked to help children and families access food and milk. All children deserve access to healthy foods, and we were proud to see California become the first state to make school meals free for all students to help ensure they are able to access and consume high-quality foods like milk and dairy foods.
We believe Dairy Council of CA is a community health cause. We are passionate about milk and dairy’s role in health, our industry’s commitment to nutrition education, and the well-being of dairy farm families and milk processors in California. We look forward to celebrating small wins, big successes and many more years of dedicated service. Together, we can elevate milk and dairy foods’ vital role in achieving equitable and sustainable nutrition security, as well as ensure milk and dairy are valued as part of the solution to supporting healthier people, fueling local economies and fostering a healthier planet. Thank you again for your support.
CEO, Dairy Council of California
From July 2020 to June 2021, Dairy Council of CA collaborated with influential health, education and foodservice professionals to educate children and families on the role of milk and dairy foods in healthy daily eating patterns and empower healthier communities.
Despite the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Dairy Council of CA continued to innovate, educating and elevating the health of children and families through nutrition on behalf of California’s dairy community.
With the goal of stewarding the dairy community’s funds responsibly and efficiently, Dairy Council of CA focused on initiatives that provided the greatest return on investment, impacting the health of children and families while elevating the value of consuming milk and dairy foods.
California dairy farm families and milk processors contribute to community health through Dairy Council of CA and its strong, longstanding foundation in schools, communities and beyond. Dairy Council of CA’s Let’s Eat Healthy nutrition curriculum and resources teach a wide range of relevant skills to enable students to make informed food choices, establish healthy eating habits, and value physical activity.
Even with school closures and the shift to remote education models, Dairy Council of CA remained highly effective, engaging and educating 4.4 million California students and families with its nutrition resources during the 2020–2021 school year. Closures forced entire school communities to look for new ways to help students and keep community health positive, providing the organization with the opportunity to lead 119 professional development trainings, empowering and equipping educators and health professionals to champion nutrition education.
The pandemic also increased the need for resources that address the whole child, paving the way for nutrition education to support students beyond developmental and physical health to also include social and emotional health. Its nutrition resources include embedded social and emotional learning (SEL) strategies, making them more relevant than ever. By leading professional development trainings, Dairy Council of CA staff leveraged demand for SEL and positioned nutrition education—and dairy—to support healthier students, schools and communities.
Dairy Council of CA collaborated with regional, statewide and national partners to lead 18 webinars and trainings to educate over 1,000 school foodservice professionals, providing insights, resources and continuing education credits to help increase nutrition knowledge and value for nutrient rich foods like dairy foods to improve community health. The webinars and trainings were focused around challenges schools currently faced, including:
The organization continued to lead and support collaboratives that advanced nutrition programs, including the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement (SLM) of California. Survey results collected at the end of the year showed that despite the many challenges, 78% of SLM technical advising professionals were actively engaged in activities that supported school foodservice during the pandemic. In addition to professional development training, actions included distributing Let’s Eat Healthy cafeteria kits, utilizing Let’s Eat Healthy nutrition resources like the Milk + Dairy tip sheet and encouraging family participation in meal distribution.
SLM is a valued collaboration between Dairy Council of CA, CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California, California Department of Education and California Department of Public Health at both the state and regional levels. Co-chaired by Dairy Council
of CA and CalFresh Healthy Living, this last year was spent evaluating results and developing plans that address the changing school environment while also increasing the value for partnerships among school districts and community partners to support
SLM and school nutrition programs.
One of Dairy Council of California’s flagship programs and the original Farm-to-School program, Mobile Dairy Classroom (MDC) gives children a chance to experience agriculture up close, teaching students food literacy through experiential learning to help them connect with food and the journey it takes to the cafeteria. Assemblies feature a variety of topics, including the role of milk and dairy foods in supporting good health, cow care on the farm, the milking process and agricultural technology.
In the 2020–2021 school year, MDC continued its innovative virtual field trip program, combining the traditional experience with a virtual farm tour. MDC instructors livestreamed from the farm, giving students an interactive field trip experience where they were able to ask questions and virtually engage with animals. This format enabled Dairy Council of CA to educate and engage 226,183 students, families and classrooms, including 394 new elementary schools typically “out of zone” due to their remote location and 15 high schools. MDC virtual field trips were taught in 20 U.S. states and 15 countries and were well-received, with an average 4.7 out of 5 star rating, emphasizing value to students and educators.
MDC assemblies and virtual field trips complement a robust portfolio of nutrition resources, including grade-specific nutrition education workbooks, short nutrition builders, online games and resources, and SLM strategies. Available in English and Spanish, the virtual field trips are paired with classroom lessons to teach students how to build healthy eating behaviors from all food groups. MDC helps students connect the foods they eat to dairy foods produced on farms, enabling them to make a powerful, lasting food literacy connection.
Mobile Dairy Classroom would not be possible without the support of the California dairy community. Thank you to the following dairies and dairy farmers for their support:
Members of the dairy community are always invited to attend a Mobile Dairy Classroom assembly, virtual farm tour or agricultural event hosted by Dairy Council of CA. Contact Kendall House, [email protected],
to learn about upcoming assemblies, events or ways to support the virtual farm tour program.
All children and families deserve access to healthy, nutritious foods like milk and dairy foods. This belief fuels Dairy Council of CA’s commitment to supporting food access programs, policies and collaboratives designed to help children and families—especially those living in marginalized and underserved communities—access the nutritious, wholesome foods they need to be nourished and healthy.
It is estimated that 13 million U.S. children—or 1 in 6—have limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life. The pandemic exacerbated food insecurity, with experts projecting the number to be even higher at 17 million, including more than 2.2 million children right here in California.
School meals are an important food access point for many children. Not only do schools provide food to children, but new research shows that children consume their healthiest meals at school. The closure of schools to in-person learning during the first year of the pandemic severely impacted school communities, with school foodservice forced to switch to drive-thru service using existing resources, and parents and caregivers scrambled to feed the children in their care.
Despite adjustments, nationally, schools served 2.2 billion fewer meals than the previous year. This drop in meal service was due in large part to lack of access to pickup sites and fear surrounding pickup service. This drop is disappointing when considering the many studies that demonstrate how school meal programs—which include milk and dairy foods as a key component— play an important role in supporting obesity prevention, overall student health and academic achievement by improving children’s nutrition intakes and combating hunger.
Throughout the year, Dairy Council of CA worked with schools and partners to help ensure milk and dairy foods remained a valued and irreplaceable part of school meal service.
One of the challenges school foodservice professionals faced last year was keeping milk cold during outdoor, drive-thru meal service. To solve this challenge, Dairy Council of CA partnered with California Milk Advisory Board and school milk processors to develop and distribute portable cooler bags to California schools in need of support. Heavily insulated and highly portable, each cooler bag held up to two crates of milk to keep cold for hours to support drive-thru distribution.
By working together,
the dairy community and California schools achieved a realistic solution to help nourish children and families and ensure that milk and dairy foods remained accessible. Beyond the pandemic, the cooler bags will continue to be used, supporting summer
meals and other outdoor events to help children access fresh, cold milk.
Milk and dairy foods are part of the solution to empowering healthier children, families and communities, and by teaming with schools and community partners throughout the state, Dairy Council of CA was able to elevate the important role of milk and dairy foods as part of daily eating patterns.
World School Milk Day in September
The academic year kicked off with school partnerships across the state to celebrate World School Milk Day, a day that brings schools and organizations around the world together to celebrate the health benefits of school milk programs and the vital role they play in nourishing children. In partnership with San Luis Coastal Unified School District, a virtual contest was hosted to educate and engage more than 2,700 families in the region. At Juniper Elementary School in Hesperia, staff worked with school foodservice to host a Milk Carton Contest, with students creatively upcycling their used milk cartons to show how milk supports health and is a sustainable food.
The Healthy Eating TABLE Released in March
Dairy Council of CA closely followed and shared research summaries in support of dairy foods in daily eating patterns leading up to the release of the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The updated recommendations supported the focus on elevating the importance of nutrition across the lifespan, which culminated with the release of The Healthy Eating TABLE, a scientific review that translates, amplifies and bridges the latest evidence in nutrition and dairy science, during National Nutrition Month®.
Dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese are nutritious, high-quality foods that contribute positive health outcomes, and The Healthy Eating TABLE provides credible, evidence-based research findings, enabling Dairy Council of CA to educate, inform and create dialogue with educators, health professionals, dairy partners, influencers and thought leaders around timely and relevant issues, as well as invite them to join in finding ways to elevate and support the health of people through nutrition. The ideas and relationships forged through these types of communications and outreach efforts help create momentum that enables change, spawning the launch of multisector collaborative efforts such as the Let’s Eat Healthy movement and the Well-Nourished, Brighter Futures initiative, which aim to foster solutions that support healthier children and ensure milk and dairy foods continue to be supported and valued as a solution to health.
June Is Dairy Month
The school year ended in a partnership with California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom to spotlight milk and dairy foods in June as part of Taste and Teach, an agricultural partnership with K–12 teachers. This partnership supported
346 California educators who engaged over 10,000 students, as well as social media promotions to elevate dairy foods and keep them top of mind.
amplifies Dairy Council of CA’s efforts to elevate the value of dairy foods in healthy dietary patterns, favorably positioning milk and dairy foods as part of the solution to improving the health of children and families. Proactively educating,
equipping and empowering local leaders, policymakers, gatekeepers and the dairy community with important science-based, relevant and actionable information ensures milk and dairy foods are valued as a solution to optimal health and remains a recommended
part of daily healthy food choices.
Its staff of nutrition, education and communications experts regularly seek out partnerships with gatekeepers and organizations that directly engage children and families. In 2020–2021, collaborations with 223 local, regional, national and international organizations and committees prioritized children’s health through nutrition. Working closely with 36 partnering organizations, 67 new resources and opportunities were created, helping to advance its cause through its partners.
Dairy Council of CA’s proprietary Trends monitoring system collects, analyzes and communicates current nutrition
research and trends so that nutrition, policy and systems, health, education, consumer behavior, and other topics are elevated, made relevant and actionable to different stakeholder audiences.
The resulting Trends Fall 2020 and Trends Spring 2021 equipped health professionals, educators and the dairy community with credible information and research on the latest in nutrition science for trending issues, enabling the organization to influence, inform and spark dialogue on the health of children, families and communities. Insights were repackaged and presented at a variety of events such as health conferences, speaking engagements, meetings and community events, creating opportunities to advocate for dairy as part of the solution to optimal health.
In 2020–2021, Dairy Council of CA prioritized where and how to share research findings to garner higher impacts while continuing to increase the number of exhibits and engagements from 70 last year to 361 this year. A diverse, multisector group of influencers and stakeholders were targeted, with staff speaking at key events including:
The pandemic drove need for cross-sector collaboration to solve many challenges faced by children and communities, including nutrition education and access to nutritious foods like milk and dairy foods. Dairy Council of CA helped improve student and family knowledge and health while increasing the value for nutrition education by creating 10,878 new Let’s Eat Healthy champions, educators who believe milk and dairy foods are a valued part of daily eating patterns.
The Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award Program celebrates outstanding individuals
and organizations who teach nutrition and actively work to improve the health of their students and school community. Award winners are champions of nutrition education who demonstrate the value of Dairy Council of CA programs and resources through
their work, engage and inspire other like-minded educators to teach nutrition, and advocate for nutrition education as a solution to school and community wellness.
In 2020–2021, the Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award was given to four educators who embodied the spirit of the program and demonstrated outstanding advocacy. All four educators are outstanding teachers and strong advocates for nutrition education, equipping children with the tools they need to build eating habits for lifelong health, with milk and dairy foods as part of the solution. Discover how they advocate and advance the cause in their communities at HealthyEating.org/NutritionAdvocacy.
Collaborating with strong partners who are passionate about working together toward a shared goal achieves greater impacts than could ever be done alone, which is why Dairy Council of CA is proud to work with California community partners in health
and education to advance its cause.
With students learning from home last year, Dairy Council of CA partnered with CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California Cooperative Extension Santa Clara County and Santa Clara County Public Health Department to develop and launch Let’s Eat Healthy Nutrition Lessons, an educational video series designed to teach and equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to establish eating habits for lifelong health.
Let’s Eat Healthy Nutrition Lessons accompanied Let’s Eat Healthy 4th and 5th Grade Nutrition Curriculum, helping students increase their knowledge and skills on a variety of nutrition topics such as the nutrients found in foods like milk and dairy foods and the importance of physical activity. The pilot in Santa Clara County was highly successful, enabling Dairy Council of CA to offer the program to expand to all schools in California and for CalFresh Healthy Living to endorse it as a valued behavior change program.
Dairy Council of CA supports the dairy industry by leveraging staff expertise to provide
insight on the school and public health environment, dairy science translations, messaging support and opportunities for dairy partners to advocate for dairy. By working together and sharing knowledge, resources and opportunities, stronger outcomes
can be achieved.
Despite the pandemic, the organization maintained a strong media presence, securing 111 placements. By increasing outreach frequency to stakeholders, HealthyEating.org successfully garnered over 2 million site visits with an increase of 65% in time spent during each visit, demonstrating value and trust in nutrition content.
People are looking for video content to increase knowledge. To meet that need, developing strong video content was prioritized. As a result, the organization’s YouTube channel grew significantly with an organic gain of 170% in subscribers, or roughly 3,000 people, garnering about 5 million impressions, more than 840,000 views and 22,000 hours of watch time. The growth can be credited to strong video content like Ask a Nutritionist and Mobile Dairy Classroom, which continue to trend very well. These numbers underscore the importance of strong content delivered in a video format.
Dairy Council of CA also piloted a new influencer strategy, partnering with three education influencers to promote the new Let’s Eat Healthy K–2 Nutrition Curriculum. The partnering influencers taught the K–2 curriculum to their classes, documented their experiences and shared their stories on social media, showing inspirational images featuring students engaged in learning, as well as endorsement of the new curriculum. The campaign drove over 25,000 impressions and generated invaluable peer-to-peer endorsement and content that can be leveraged in promotional efforts in the future.
Many children lack access to nutritious foods and nutrition education, leaving them without the support they need to achieve optimal health. While many factors affect overall health and quality of life, supporting children’s health through nutrition can have a positive impact on their success in school and throughout life. This drove the launch of Well-Nourished, Brighter Futures, a statewide initiative of the Let’s Eat Healthy movement that aims to improve nutrition education, facilitate and provide access to nutritious foods such as milk and dairy foods and advocate for every child’s nutritional needs. In collaboration with The Children’s Partnership, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, First 5 Sacramento, Los Angeles County Office of Education and No Kid Hungry, Dairy Council of CA sponsored a two-day convening and brought together passionate experts in health representing community, academic, government and advocacy organizations in California.
The resulting Initiative Launch Stakeholder Convening Report is a comprehensive framework that provides guidance and information to help improve nutrition education, facilitate and provide access to nutritious foods and advocate for every child’s nutritional needs in diverse settings. Intended to inspire, support and propel action and advocacy for healthier, nourished children and families, the convening report is just the beginning. Stakeholders will continue to collaborate, coordinate and find opportunities to co-create to advance the vision of nourishing and empowering healthier children.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted everyone—families, schools, businesses and communities—and created challenges no
one could have predicted. As a fourth-generation dairyman, it has been heartwarming to see Dairy Council of CA in action and working on our behalf, continually shifting to meet the changing needs of schools and communities during lockdown, as
businesses reopened, and now as we work toward resuming activities and routines and anticipate the pandemic ending.
Supporting students and the school community is very important to me as both a father and one of California’s school milk providers, and this is an area where Dairy Council of CA really shines. An agile organization, Dairy Council of CA quickly developed online nutrition resources to support instruction during the pandemic, converting curriculum, worksheets and even Mobile Dairy Classroom assemblies to a digital format to make teaching nutrition easy. To help kids access milk while school cafeterias were closed, Dairy Council of CA partnered with California Milk Advisory Board and worked with local schools and school milk providers to create and distribute portable, insulated cooler bags to keep milk cold and ensure it remained part of school meal service.
Dairy Council of CA is attuned to California school and community environments, as demonstrated by its ability to quickly respond to changes, identifying and filling gaps to support, educate and partner with schools, communities and organizations on behalf of the dairy community to improve the health of children, families and communities.
I come from a long line of California dairymen and I am proud of the work we do—as dairy farmers and dairy processors—to produce the delicious milk and dairy foods people enjoy and consume for good health. The dairy community has made great progress in reducing environmental impacts, leading the nation and the world in demonstrating innovative practices that help make milk and dairy foods more sustainable, but our work is not done. Milk and dairy foods support the health of people and the planet, and they boost local economies to benefit entire communities—and those are stories that must be told.
Dairy foods play a vital role in helping children and families meet their nutritional needs. By sharing our stories and continuing to support Dairy Council of CA as they educate on the role of dairy foods in supporting health, we can help ensure dairy continues to be valued as part of the solution to sustainably nourish and support the health of people for generations to come.
John Dolan, Dairy Processor
Driftwood Dairy in El Monte, California
Dairy Council of California is a nutrition education organization under the California Department of Food and Agriculture and guided by a board of directors representing California dairy farmers and processors. We would like to acknowledge and thank the following board members for their guidance and continued support during the 2020-2021 fiscal year.