Local Checkoffs in Action
How checkoffs across the country are reaching youth
Dairy checkoff teams nationally and locally are unified around the goal of driving sales and trust of dairy on behalf of our nation’s 28,000 dairy farm families. One key strategy focuses on efforts to reach youth and their parents with a message that dairy holds a place of relevance across all life stages.
Here are some stories of how the checkoff is accomplishing this goal across the country.
American Dairy Association North East
American Dairy Association North East (ADANE) offers strategies for the implementation of Breakfast After the Bell, and menu enhancements such as “Yogurt All Ways” and Hot Chocolate Milk. ADANE is proud to partner with schools and provide resources through their Nutrition Connection website. This online hub is a collection of valuable resources including on trend, popular school menu enhancements designed to help schools build meal participation while keeping dairy integral to school meals.
Dairy Council of California
Dairy Council of California awarded a $5,000 community grant to the City of Rancho Cucamonga, Healthy RC initiative in San Bernardino, California. The grant funded the “Empowering Healthy Choices: Cooking with Rancho Cucamonga Teens” project to engage teens as teachers to educate peers about healthy eating, including the unique nutritional benefits milk and dairy foods provide in a healthy eating pattern.
Youth leaders collaborated with a local chef to develop a series of culturally inclusive dairy recipes that are budget and teen friendly. As part of the project, youth leaders delivered cooking workshops to empower peers to build essential skills to prepare nutritious, fueling meals and snacks. More than 500 high school students were reached through the Healthy RC partnership which advances the activation of Dairy Council of California’s Let’s Eat Healthy Initiative, engaging Let’s Eat Healthy champion partners to make healthy, wholesome foods like milk and dairy more accessible.
Dairy Farmers of Washington
Dairy Farmers of Washington’s Start Strong equipment grant program supported 18 districts and 52 schools to highlight dairy products and enhance the milk experience through meal programs. Smoothie and coffee kits and milk coolers were provided through these efforts.
Dairy Farmers of Washington has built new relationships with school foodservice professionals during the grant process and are looking into further opportunities to collaborate.
Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
For several years, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin has partnered with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) to reach coaches, athletes, parents and fans to establish a connection between farmers, athletes and Wisconsin residents. The Chocolate Milk sponsorship with the WIAA and the state tournaments help reinforce chocolate milk’s nutritional value, while showcasing dairy farmers and their farming practices and reinforcing Wisconsinite's pride in local dairy and their communities.
Beyond the tournaments, chocolate milk is the official beverage of the WIAA and is sold at state tournament concessions. Chocolate milk advertisements appear in all state tournament programs, on the WIAA website, in communications to coaches and at tournaments where a digital screen is present.
Coffee and smoothie shops have become a regular part of life for today’s teenagers, who can often be found hanging outside their favorite local shops. So why not keep them on campus to enjoy their favorite beverages? Dairy MAX has partnered with To Taste, an organization founded by two registered dietitian/chefs with a focus on K-12 culinary nutrition.
This partnership led to the creation of nine milk-based coffee recipes that include 8 ounces of milk and 16 smoothie recipes containing one or two servings of dairy. Adding coffee and smoothies to innovative breakfast programs is increasing student participation in breakfast while delivering dairy’s vital nutrition benefits that fuels classroom success and elevates a school’s overall nutrition program.
Dairy West is creatively increasing dairy consumption by providing grants to schools in their region. These grants are aimed at expanding serving lines with a variety of delicious and nutritious dairy options, including smoothies, lattes, hot chocolate milk, breakfast items, and innovative pizza mobile lines.
Schools that have implemented one of these mobile lines have experienced up to a 19% increase in meal participation, demonstrating the program’s positive impact not only on students' health and wellness but for dairy farmers through growing demand.
Florida Dairy Farmers
For almost a decade, the Dairy Council of Florida has partnered with several Girls on the Run (GOTR) chapters to help participants understand the importance of fueling their minds and bodies with nutritious dairy foods. GOTR inspires elementary-age females to build confidence, kindness, and decision-making skills while training to run an end-of-year 5K.
Through partnerships that reach approximately 3,000 girls, coaches and parents, dairy messaging has been included in their curriculum, newsletters and social media, and dairy snacks are provided for some practices. This year, the Tampa Bay chapter was awarded $5,000 from MilkPEP that funded one of its campaigns.
Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council
The Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council (ODNC) conducted three dairy farm tours for school nutrition professionals and STEM educators.
The 67 leaders, representing 32 school districts and 25 school partner organizations, impact school meals and STEM education for more than 260,000 Oregon youth. Participant surveys showed an average of 76 percent felt “much more”/“more positive” about food and agriculture after the tour.
Maine Dairy Nutrition Council
The Maine Dairy Nutrition Council has had a relationship with the University of Maine Black Bears for 15 years and has done several events with them. In 2022, they sponsored the first Meet the Bears Night where families brought their school-age children to meet the Black Bears football team that included drills and activities, pizza and a movie on the field. Participants also received football themed MilkPEP posters, nutrition information and other dairy giveaways and the kids were served plenty of milk.
Several athletes and coaches have been featured in graphics developed for Black Bear Athletics for School Breakfast Week and Harvest of the Month. The checkoff team uses those graphics for its social media and are shared with school nutrition professionals who post them in cafeterias.
Midwest Dairy created a web page to highlight its activities, including the Adopt a Cow Program, STEM curriculum pilot, and participation in experiential events such as the College World Series, Chalk Talk with coaches and Illinois High School Association, and other state high school partnerships in Minnesota.
Each of these activations reached a large youth audience telling dairy’s farm to table story to the masses. Specifically, the College World Series had over 300,000 attendees from across the country make their way to Omaha, Nebraska, to cheer on their favorite college baseball team during The Men’s College World Series. This diverse audience of all ages, including Generation Z, offered a large population pool for Midwest Dairy to share dairy’s story through an interactive booth complete with a gaming station and baby calves.
New England Dairy
New England Dairy works with farmers and partners to connect youth with where their food comes from through opportunities such as Discover Dairy’s Adopt a Cow program. Through this program, four New England farmers shared their unique farm story featuring their calves to help build trust in dairy during the 2022-23 school year.
As a result, more than 1,600 educators reaching an estimated 60,000 students from across New England Dairy’s region connected with farmers. Survey results showed students’ trust in dairy grew by 43 percent and knowledge about dairy grew 73 percent.
The Dairy Alliance
The Discover Dairy “Adopt a Cow” program is an exciting, year-long experience that was provided free to 7,471 classrooms with 345,219 students enrolled throughout The Dairy Alliance region in the 2022-23 school year. Classrooms received an inside look at dairy farming and were paired with a calf from a working dairy farm within their state. They learned her name, birthday, farm location and how the farmer took care of her. The progress updates, photos of the cow, live chats from the farm, student activity sheets, and suggested lessons that follow Common CORE standards contributed to a 55 perccent increase in trust for cow care and 43 percent increase in environmental stewardship based on pre-/post-surveys.
Cindy Miniard, a Crab Orchard Elementary teacher, said: “The students loved Trusty the cow and have learned so much from the Adopt a Cow program. Our entire school - every classroom - participated and will again and again. Thank you to The Dairy Alliance!"
United Dairy Industry of Michigan
Michigan's dairy farmers have been fueling athletes through the Chocolate Milk: Nature's Sports Drink Grant since 2011. The program will be getting a facelift for the 2023-24 school year, offering the grant on a school-wide, rather than individual team basis.
Grantee schools will make a three-year commitment, including matching dollars in years two and three, to provide chocolate milk to all athletes as well as students participating in after-school activities. Schools will also receive refrigeration equipment to keep milk cold as well as nutrition education to help support their individual goals, inside and outside of the classroom. The goal at the end of the three-year grant is that the school building will have a sustainable system and infrastructure to refuel students long term.