Using the latest in nutrition research, education standards and educational theories, our robust portfolio of nutrition resources empowers partners in education, foodservice and health care to teach children and families to eat healthfully, equipping them with the knowledge to build lifelong healthy eating habits. Aligned with Common Core State Standards and available for grades K–12, our student workbooks, resources and teacher-friendly plug-and play lessons enable easy implementation. Dairy Council of California’s nutrition programs and resources educate millions of children and families every year.
Utilizing traditional and nontraditional pathways such as schools, health clinics, community-based organizations and online platforms, our resources teach a variety of nutrition topics, including the health benefits of milk and dairy foods. We believe that nutrition education, when supported by policy, systems and environmental interventions, serves as a strong catalyst to elevating the health of communities.
Supporting nutrition education is part of how California dairy farm families and milk processors contribute to community health, which manifests through Dairy Council of California and its strong and long-standing foundation in schools, communities and beyond.
Health experts agree that many Americans underconsume daily recommended servings of dairy, fruit, vegetables and whole grains, which provide essential nutrients needed for good health. The four nutrients of public health concern are vitamin D, dietary fiber, calcium and potassium, and insufficient intakes of these nutrients are associated with adverse health outcomes. Vitamin D, calcium, potassium and other nutrients are provided by milk and dairy foods, which reaffirms milk and dairy foods’ important role in daily, healthy eating patterns.
By working with partners in education, health and foodservice to teach children and families nutrition education starting at an earlier age, we can collectively equip and empower them with the knowledge and tools they need to make healthier eating decisions and build healthy eating habits for lifelong health. Grade-specific and science-based, our nutrition curriculum spans K–12 and can be taught as stand-alone lessons or used in sequence year over year for stronger retention.
Last year, our fourth grade Nutrition Pathfinders program was accepted as a Research-Tested Intervention Program by the National Cancer Institute and added to its searchable database, which provides public health practitioners with access to approved, evidence-based cancer control interventions and program materials. To qualify, listings must demonstrate measurable impact as research-tested interventions. Evaluated by an independent research group tracking the program’s effectiveness in improving knowledge, attitudes and nutrition choices, Nutrition Pathfinders demonstrated effectiveness in teaching healthy eating and exercise patterns to children and their families. The study results showed:
Educators are influential gatekeepers of children, teaching life skills every day in the classroom. Integrating nutrition education lessons equips students with the tools to make healthy eating decisions that will last a lifetime. Through the Research-Tested Intervention Program of the National Cancer Institute, our programs are also offered to health professionals as proven behavior change resources, providing additional endorsement and validation of their effectiveness and value.
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close and quickly shift to a remote instruction model. During the transition, many educators anxiously searched for online resources that integrated with distance learning.
Dairy Council of California’s nutrition education team was already expanding its online nutrition resources, and COVID-19 expedited the process. To support educators and the school community, our team demonstrated agility by adapting our existing nutrition curriculum and resources to an online format and created HealthyEating.org/OnlineLearning, a landing page that aggregates our resources for easy educator access and sharing with students.
The pandemic forced families to shelter in place, creating concern for the mental health and well-being of students, families and communities struggling to adjust. Additional factors, including increasing rates of unemployment, food insecurity and rising tension caused by civil unrest, exacerbated these concerns and elevated the need for self-care, which includes nutrition.
Our team leveraged the opportunity to support families through difficult and stressful times by offering resources that advocate for nutrition’s critical role in self-care to help buffer adversity, build physical and mental resilience and improve health. Eating nutritious foods, including milk and dairy, is an essential part of self-care. By bringing nutrition into the conversation about mental health, we support our stakeholders in addressing a growing health concern.
In 2019–2020, Dairy Council of California proudly collaborated with partners in education and the dairy community and leveraged online communication platforms to create additional opportunities to teach nutrition and build healthier communities.
In California, we collaborated with Madera Unified School District and community partners to provide professional development trainings, resources and support to successfully improve the health of students with noteworthy public health wins. This partnership resulted in 11% fewer students who are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight and a 28% improvement in nutrition knowledge, a success that exemplifies Dairy Council of California’s belief that reversing childhood obesity is critical to creating healthier communities.
Beyond California, we partnered with Dairy West, the Dairy Council of Utah and Nevada, to create nutrition resources with learning activities to help educate children and families throughout Idaho and Utah. Meal sites for school districts with low-income and/or rural families with little or no access to the internet received approximately 45,000 print copies of the new resource to teach the importance of nutrition and healthy eating habits.
Leveraging social media and staff expertise, Dairy Council of California kicked off 2020 by launching a new YouTube educational series, Ask a Nutritionist. Aimed at influencers in education, foodservice and health, Ask a Nutritionist sparks dialogue around nutrition while addressing common questions and myths related to milk and dairy foods, healthy eating patterns, dietary trends and the importance of consuming a balanced, sustainable diet. Each free episode features a Dairy Council of California registered dietitian nutritionist who answers and addresses a food or nutrition concern specific to their professional expertise and interests.
Highly successful, our YouTube channel saw a growth rate of 61% this past year, which reflects an increase of over 1,100 subscribers through organic growth and no paid promotions. With stronger content like Ask a Nutritionist,
we saw a significant increase in engagement, views and traffic
to our social channels. For instance, for the month of April 2020, we had over 63,000 views, 2,200 hours of watch time and 227 new subscribers, demonstrating an upward trend and a new opportunity for innovation and direct education.