Dairy: For One School, it’s More Than a Menu Item

Janie DiNatale

Last semester, I worked in New Hampshire with the Manchester School District and New England Dairy as part of my dietetic internship. Through this experience I’ve had the unique opportunity to see dairy education in action and the value it brings to schools. Below are three examples how Southside Middle School used New England Dairy’s education and promotional resources to engage with their students.

Southside is involved in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program,  an in-school physical activity and nutrition program supported locally by New England dairy farmers. Through this program, students created dairy-related campaigns that encouraged the consumption of nutritious milk in schools and highlighted the importance of dairy in their’ own communities.

Say Cheese! Campaign

The first campaign I assisted with was “Say Cheese” – which students could participate in to earn rewards for their school’s Fuel Up to Play 60 team.  The team at Southside Middle School went through the cafeteria at lunch time and gave students who had cheese (like string cheese or cheese on a sandwich) prizes and stickers.  While doing this, the team also emphasized the nutritional benefits of the cheese they were eating.

Hot Chocolate Milk

The second campaign I assisted with was the Hot Chocolate Milk campaign.  The Fuel Up to Play 60 students had their peers answer dairy trivia questions, and then the grade with the most answers correct won a great prize — hot chocolate milk to be delivered to their classrooms!  Who wouldn’t want that?

Dairy Innovation Challenge

The Southside students also participated and won the Dairy Innovation Challenge  a competition with other schools around the region held at Gillette Stadium this past summer, where they came up with an idea for a milk flavoring activity that promoted milk consumption in school.  The Innovation Challenge encouraged students to think outside of the box to create an original idea and presentation.  As part of their prize, students won a field trip to Shaw Farm in Dracut, Massachusetts to meet a real dairy farmer and learn about his farm.

The students were clearly engaged and demonstrated real enthusiasm in learning about dairy through these initiatives and activities.  I watched students encourage their peers to get excited about nutritious foods and learning. It was very impressive to see the creativity and planning the students put into the above activities!

Other Fuel Up to Play 60 and Farm-to-School Resources

How can you incorporate dairy in your classroom or school? If you missed the “Say Cheese” campaign, check out New England Dairy new website for recipes, fun facts, lesson plans, and more dairy-related and age-appropriate materials.  Lesson plans that involve educational 360-videos and virtual farm tours have been created with posters and activity sheets that are ready-to-use for classrooms.  Some great resources include:

For Teachers:

Dairy can also be promoted at home with these resources:

The resources above keep students engaged and curious.  Whether you are a teacher looking for a new lesson plan or a parent who is looking for new ways for your child to enjoy dairy, check out Promoting Local Agriculture Together, Dairy in Your School, and/or School Nutrition Equipment to help support you on your own dairy experience to make dairy more than a menu item.

Janie is a dietetic intern from the University of New Hampshire who is also pursuing her Nutritional Sciences master’s degree.  Having completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Alabama, she has a love for all things Alabama football. Originally from the shoreline of Connecticut, she has a special love for the beach and hopes to one day complete her Ph.D. in nutrition and become involved in higher education and participate in research relating to food science.

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