To help create excitement and build trust around school meals that include milk and dairy, American Dairy Association North East recently facilitated a live farm tour hosted by Sarah Colby of Colby Homestead Farm, Spencerport, N.Y., for more than 100 school nutrition professionals from Monroe County, N.Y.
The tour was part of New York Thursdays, the statewide program to educate students about locally sourced foods like milk and dairy.
“Creating more opportunities for dairy items to be included in school menus while growing school breakfast and school meal participation is a primary dairy checkoff goal,” said ADA North East CEO Rick Naczi. “Our staff provides school food service decision makers with resources and educational programs like the farm tour to keep dairy as a main ingredient in students’ meals.”
Colby helped make the connection about how on-farm practices translate to the safe, wholesome milk the students drink, supplied by her cooperative Upstate Niagara Cooperative, at school.
“School nutrition professionals work so hard to keep our children nourished and fueled for success,” said Colby. “The virtual farm tour was a great opportunity to show them that the local milk and dairy products they’re serving to students every day come from a good place.”
Viewers asked Colby questions in real time, inquiring about the farm’s robot milkers and conventional milking parlor; cows’ lifespans; the robotic manure scraper; and what’s included in cows’ and calves’ diets, among others.
“I know the enormous effort it takes to put milk and other dairy products on our tables and in our lunch bags,” said Monroe County School Nutrition Association president and school nutrition director Nicole VanDerMeid. “New York Thursdays gives us the perfect opportunity to share with students, parents and school staff all the local farmers we support, and it’s important to know where their food comes from and the people producing it.”
For more information about dairy checkoff school meals programs, visit AmericanDairy.com, or call 315.472.9143.