Dairy farmers work day in and day out to provide affordable, nutrient-rich dairy foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese for American and global consumers. It’s hard work for a worthy cause — elevating health. As world leaders and health experts come together to look for ways to continue improving people’s health, they’re finding that there is no simple solution.

Many factors, including the conditions in which people live, learn, work, play, and gather, contribute to overall health and wellness. Called social determinants of health, these environmental factors are interconnected, and their impact on health outcomes is expanding how experts look at health.

Rather than solely promoting physical activity or specific “healthy” foods, emphasis is being placed on finding solutions to achieve nutrition equity. Nutrition equity means identifying barriers and allocating resources to help ensure all people are supported to live healthfully. To this end, there are opportunities for the dairy community to make a difference by supporting food access programs and nutrition education initiatives.

Federal nutrition assistance programs and other programs designed to boost access to nutritious foods like dairy foods provide a critical safety net for underserved and marginalized communities. This is especially important during early childhood, since nutrition and access to high-quality foods like milk and dairy foods can positively impact lifelong health.

Many underserved communities suffer from a lack of credible nutrition education. When combined with misinformation, the negative effect on health can be significant. By advocating for science-based nutrition education that meets people where they are, all of us in the dairy community can enhance knowledge, understanding and value for wholesome, nutritious foods from all food groups, including milk and dairy, in daily eating patterns.

Achieving nutrition equity is a tall order, much bigger than any organization can accomplish on its own. That is why collaboration across industries and at all levels, plus systemic change, will be required.

Well-Nourished, Brighter Futures, an initiative introduced by Dairy Council of California, focuses on improving access to nutrition education and nutritious foods like dairy foods, advocating for children’s nutritional needs and finding solutions to achieve nutrition equity. By working with changemakers and partners in health, education, and communities, we can create a future where children and families are supported and dairy foods are valued in daily eating patterns. Learn more and join us at HealthyEating.org.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2021
June 24, 2021
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