Where do nutritious dairy foods come from? What about fruits, vegetables, and whole grains you find at the store? Help students learn more about healthy eating and the nutrients that fresh dairy and other farmed foods provide by organizing awareness events highlighting the origin of these foods and why they are healthy choices. Host an assembly highlighting fresh foods, including low-fat and fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese, plus fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Learning about the work of dairy and other farmers in producing healthy, nutrient-rich foods can help students better appreciate the variety of foods they might choose, and where those foods come from. And, building awareness through "point of purchase" promotions and offering incentives can increase their consumption.
- Create a "Farm to School Snack Table" in the cafeteria and offer samples of the various foods produced by farmers, including low-fat and fat-free dairy and seasonal fruits and vegetables. As students sample each food, talk about the nutrients they are providing their bodies and how the farmer's work makes these health benefits possible.
- Build awareness about the benefits of nutrient-rich dairy and other farmed foods by creating "point of purchase" promotions during food service. Work with the school nutrition staff to create displays of low-fat and fat-free dairy and seasonal fruits and vegetables closer to the check-out line. Research shows these types of promotions can impact healthy eating choices.
- Consider offering an incentive program to encourage increased consumption of fresh foods. Research indicates that providing small incentives on a particular day or over time can increase selection and consumption of nutrient-rich foods while decreasing cafeteria waste of these items. This benefits students and the school budget. (See From Our Teammates research links below.)
- Hold taste tests for fresh dairy and seasonal foods, and survey students to see which options could be successful new school menu items.
- Invite a local dairy farmer to speak about what they do, or use the Tools and Resources below to find ways you can bring the farm experience to school. Include your school nutrition professionals to talk with students about the nutritious benefits of the farmed foods. To invite a farmer to your school event, go to the Dairy Council Locator found in the footer of FuelUpToPlay60.com. Locate your state or regional Dairy Council to contact the Dairy Promotion Office.
- If farms are not close enough for a class trip, ask a parent or group of volunteers to visit farms and take pictures to create a photo frame slide show that can be shown in the school meals service line. Include pictures of the farm and the work it takes to produce dairy and seasonal foods.
- Have students create "Know Your Foods" posters showing the path foods take from the farm to your lunchroom. Have them highlight the fresh new dairy and other farmed foods they have tried and started eating regularly, including the health benefits they provide. Post them in the cafeteria and around the school to encourage other students to eat more nutritious foods. Use the From Our Teammates resources below to help students find those messages.