California is taking bold actions that mean more students will have access to milk and dairy foods. Governor Newsom’s recent climate package expands the state’s Farm to School program by providing $60 million over the next two years, a move that comes on the heels of the Golden State being the first state in the country to offer free school meals to all schoolchildren.
These programs are critically important to supporting healthy students and communities, since one in six children in the United States is impacted by food insecurity. Many more lack essential nutrients needed for optimal growth due to underconsumption of fruit, vegetables, and dairy foods. For so many children, school meals are the only opportunity they have to consume healthy food, making school meals a critical safety net.
Farm to School programs, long supported by the dairy community, are also part of the solution as they provide equitable access to healthy foods, including milk and dairy, and nutrition education. Importantly, research shows that eating patterns established at an early age influence not only academic and lifelong success but also food and beverage choices made throughout life. In turn, nutrition access and education positively impact health outcomes such as risk for obesity, hypertension, and diabetes in adulthood.
Dairy Council of California believes all children and their families deserve equitable access to healthy foods and nutrition education. We also believe that milk and dairy foods are essential to daily healthy eating patterns — and Farm to School programs are an important way to demonstrate these values in action.
In California, we are proud of the recent efforts to support nutrition equity, but there is work yet to do across the globe, the country, and in our backyard, and we can’t do it alone. For that reason, we encourage dairy farmers to support their local Farm to School initiatives and collaborate with other advocates for healthier children and families as part of the “Let’s Eat Healthy” movement. Learn more at HealthyEating.org/Join.