Advocacy amplifies our efforts to elevate the value of dairy foods in healthy dietary patterns, favorably positioning milk and dairy as part of the solution to improving the health of children and families. As nutrition experts, we are proud to proactively educate, equip and empower local leaders, policymakers, gatekeepers and the dairy community with important science-based, relevant and actionable information to ensure milk and dairy foods are valued as a solution to optimal health and remain a recommended part of daily healthy food choices.At Dairy Council of California, we believe collaboration is vital to improving community health. That is why we actively partner with key organizations to support and inform the collaboratives, initiatives, policies and programs that advance nutrition education and food access for children and families.
Through these collaborative efforts, we build advocacy for our cause and values, extend our reach and achieve greater impact to improve the health of children and families and build stronger communities.
The Dairy Council of California team includes nutrition, education and communications experts who seek out partnerships with gatekeepers, programs and organizations that directly engage children and families.
In 2019–2020, we partnered with 69 local, regional, national and international organizations and committees to convene and prioritize children’s health through nutrition. Despite sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were still able to double the number of professional trainings to health, foodservice and community wellness professionals, increasing our training sessions from 43 last year to 83 this year, and nearly tripling the number of professionals trained, from 1,479 last year to 3,971 this year. Through trainings, our team successfully educated and equipped influencers and change-makers with the nutrition resources needed to be effective advocates around healthy eating patterns, nutrition education and the importance of milk and dairy foods in supporting the health of children.
We know that educators are key influencers. To amplify the work of California educators who teach nutrition and actively work to improve the health of their students and school community, we launched the Let’s Eat Healthy Educator Recognition Program, which aims to:
The new program includes the Let’s Eat Healthy Leadership Award, which allows educators who embody the spirit of the program to be recognized by their peers and industry partners for teaching nutrition in the classroom and demonstrating outstanding advocacy. In its inaugural year, four exceptional California educators received awards:
By formally honoring educators who teach nutrition to improve the lives of their students, this sustainable advocacy program encourages our educator advocates to inspire their peers to also teach nutrition to help ensure students build a strong foundation for good health starting at a young age. Learn more about the Let’s Eat Healthy Educator Recognition Program at HealthyEating.org/NutritionAdvocacy.
Dairy Council of California’s nutrition science team uses a proprietary Trends monitoring system to collect, analyze and communicate current nutrition research and trends. Topics related to nutrition, policy and systems, health, education and consumer behavior, among others, are elevated, translated, adapted and made relevant, actionable and relatable to different stakeholder audiences.
Last year, the nutrition science team developed and released three important publications: The Healthy Eating TABLE, TRENDS Fall 2019 and TRENDS Spring 2020. All three publications are thought-provoking and empowering, effectively bridging research with trending topics to help shed light on the relevancy of the issues while identifying possible implications. By educating, informing and equipping health professionals, educators and the dairy community with credible research on the latest in nutrition science on trending issues, we spark dialogue on opportunities to elevate the health of children, families and communities.
Presented at a variety of events such as health conferences, speaking engagements, meetings and community events, the insights gleaned from these noteworthy publications continue to create new opportunities to advocate for dairy as a solution to health. In 2019–2020, we nearly doubled our number of exhibits and engagements, from 39 previously to 70. Events included hosted sessions at several noteworthy conferences:
While COVID-19 led to the cancellation of several spring conferences and forced the remaining conferences to move to a virtual space, the events were well-attended and provided a strong peer-to-peer platform for our team to educate, inform and inspire colleagues to champion the health of children by advocating for nutritious foods like milk and dairy as a solution to supporting optimal growth, development and health outcomes.
Dairy Council of California has always supported the dairy industry, 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. We believe that by working together and sharing knowledge, resources and opportunities, we can achieve stronger outcomes. This belief was made apparent as COVID-19 forced people to shelter in place and businesses to close their doors, making the need for timely, relevant information vital.
As a result, we increased our communication efforts to the dairy community and other stakeholders. We proudly responded to partner requests for information, review and guidance and provided timely updates. On a policy front, our community nutrition advisers proactively engaged with policymakers and partners throughout the state, sending e-communications to share resources and information on relevant topics like how milk and dairy foods can support immunity health and how they play an important role in school meal programs to help nourish children. In addition to direct communications, we also expanded our influence through third-party placements. Year over year, we quadrupled the number of earned editorial placements, from 23 last year to 112 this year in dairy industry publications and government/policy, health, foodservice, educator-specific and general consumer outlets.
Our outreach efforts to educators, health professionals and gatekeepers also evolved, becoming shorter, more frequent and more direct to provide easily sharable online resources. Between innovating our programs and shifting our communications strategy, our outreach efforts were
highly effective, with over 1.5 million site visits, an increase of 80% in web traffic, between mid-March and early June.