Dairy Council of California connects public, agriculture

Funded by California’s dairy farm families and local milk processors the council offers science-based nutrition education resources, training programs and online tools to reach millions of people in California and throughout the U.S.

By JULIA HOLLISTER

For the Capital Press

Published on June 5, 2017 3:36PM

Last changed on June 5, 2017 3:42PM

Students pet a calf during a visit from the Dairy Council of California’s Mobile Dairy Classroom. The program reaches 450,000 children and adults each year.

Dairy Council of California

Students pet a calf during a visit from the Dairy Council of California’s Mobile Dairy Classroom. The program reaches 450,000 children and adults each year.

The Dairy Council of California’s Mobile Dairy Classroom visits schools as part of the Farm to School program. The program reaches 450,000 children and adults each year.

Dairy Council of California

The Dairy Council of California’s Mobile Dairy Classroom visits schools as part of the Farm to School program. The program reaches 450,000 children and adults each year.


Ninety-eight years ago California’s dairy families and milk processors saw the need to showcase the nutritional value of milk and dairy foods.

One vehicle they developed to do that is the Mobile Dairy Classroom.

Combined with training programs and online tools, they can now reach millions in California and throughout the nation.

The Mobile Dairy Classroom started in the 1930s when Clarence Michaels of Edgemar Farms customized a trailer to bring a cow and calf on school visits in the Los Angeles area.

The assemblies based on the Mobile Dairy Classroom are California’s original Farm to School program, said Efrain Valenzuela, the Dairy Council’s Mobile Dairy Classroom manager.

“Today six instructors with agricultural and education backgrounds across the state bring the custom-built units to elementary schools and Ag Days during the school year,” Valenzuela said. “This valuable program reaches 450,000 children and adults each year.”

Since 1919, the Dairy Council has developed other programs to partner with educators, health professionals and communities to elevate the health of children and parents through the pursuit of healthy, balanced eating habits, he said. That includes drinking milk and eating dairy foods, he said.

The Dairy Council is a marketing order with oversight from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

All of California’s dairy families and milk processing companies contribute to fund the outreach efforts.

“We offer classroom nutrition education lessons for grades K-12 that are free to California teachers,” Valenzuela said. “We also offer nutrition education booklets to health professionals to assist adults and parents in making healthy eating choices and raising children to be healthy eaters.”

In addition, the Dairy Council is part of the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of California, Local School Wellness Policy Collaboratives and other community outreach programs, he said.

Currently, the council is reaching out to teachers, school food service professionals, healthcare workers and others to raise awareness and boost participation in the free summer meals programs funded by USDA.

Only about 15 percent of students who rely on free and reduced-price meals at school take advantage of summer meals, which offer free breakfast, lunch and snacks to all kids 18 and under — no paperwork or documentation required — when school is out of session.

“Every breakfast and lunch follows healthy meal standards,” he said.



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