By Cynthia S Haren, President and CEO
Western Dairy Association
As a representative of dairy farm families in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming, I had the opportunity to speak today at the “Future of Food” breakfast forum in Denver, on behalf of Western Dairy Association (WDA). The forum brought together local government, agricultural and educational leaders to have a deep discussion around the shared responsibility of the challenge of providing nutritious, affordable food to children in schools and to a growing population.
Dairy farmers are at the forefront of feeding America and nourishing each of our lives every day. I believe that dairy foods and the nutritional quality they provide is a pivotal part of the solution. The more we educate people, especially children, about how food begins on the farm, the more they will understand that dairy is a nutritious food group that farmers strive to produce with minimal impact on the environment. This education must start with our youth via farm to school programs, farm tours and nutrition education.
About 23 percent of households with children in Colorado report food hardships and it is critical to demonstrate how dairy foods can be part of the solution for food security in the 21st century. For some children, school meals are the only nutritious meals they eat in the day. Dayle Hayes of Nutrition for the Future Inc. made a good point at the forum to sum it all up, “it isn’t nutrition until it’s consumed by students. We don’t want to be feeding trashcans.” So, it’s not just about the quantity of food, it’s also about quality — school meals must meet both nutritional quality and taste preferences.
Children’s health and wellness has been a focus of dairy farmers for close to a century. Through mutually beneficial partnerships with local schools, businesses and other organizations, WDA educates on the nutrition and health benefits of dairy products. From school breakfast and the Fuel Up to Play 60 program collaboration with the Denver Broncos to family health initiatives, today’s dairy farmers provide solutions to help bring nourishment and great taste to mealtime, combat childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles which include consumption of low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt.
Continue to tune in and be a part of the conversation on Twitter by following WDA at @WesternDairy and use the #thinkfood hash tag.