National Agriculture Day was celebrated this year on March 22. While it may be in the rearview mirror, it’s important to recognize that Americans — especially schoolchildren — would benefit from year-round efforts to enhance agricultural literacy and encourage healthy eating habits.
Farm-to-school programs are an important part of ag literacy and encouraging healthy eating. These programs have gained unprecedented support and funding in recent years. The focus of these programs has primarily been on expanding healthy food access in schools while supporting farmers and food literacy education, including school gardens.
Since emphasis is often placed on fruits and vegetables, nutrition education and agricultural literacy programs like Dairy Council of California’s Mobile Dairy Classroom are needed now more than ever to support children’s health and ensure wholesome, nutritious foods like milk and dairy foods are included in food and agriculture education. Farm to school and agriculture literacy programs provide an opportunity for the dairy community to advocate for milk and dairy’s unique and essential contributions to daily healthy, sustainable eating patterns.
For Dairy Council of California, schools have been an important avenue for nutrition education and agricultural literacy for more than 100 years. While schools continue to be an established, credible venue for education, learning also happens through a variety of experiences and in diverse community settings where people live, work, and play. For that reason, supporting ongoing agricultural literacy and nutrition education will require collaboration not only within the dairy community but also with other organizations committed to health.
While National Ag Day 2022 has passed, it’s important that agriculture, and especially the dairy community, prioritize agricultural literacy and nutrition education on an ongoing basis. By doing so, we can engage individuals, families, and communities while advancing a cause that spans 365 days a year: Elevating the health of children and families through the pursuit of lifelong healthy eating habits.