June 8 2023 01:09 PM

The reading and nutrition program highlights the importance of starting the day with dairy to enhance learning.

The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified, or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

What’s better than breakfast with your friends? Breakfast and a book with your friends while connecting with dairy farmers!

For the past three years, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) has joined elementary schools, local authors and partner athletes to fuel up with breakfast and dive into reading. And learn about Michigan’s dairy community along the way.

“It was really the highlight of our morning, maybe our week,” says Breanne Palmerini, a third-grade teacher at Dryden Elementary in Dryden, Michigan, whose classroom tuned in after hearing about the program from another educator. “The students loved it and were so engaged during the reading. It might be a short, simple event, but it's one our class will remember,” she adds.

The 30-minute sessions feature story time, tips for a healthy breakfast and the opportunity to ask questions of a celebrity or a dairy farmer. The motivational and encouraging books and discussions are geared toward students in kindergarten through third grade.

“A nutritious diet including dairy provides a strong foundation to help kids learn,” says Amiee Vondrasek, UDIM Health and Wellness Senior Manager, explaining the genesis of the program. “The ‘Breakfast and a Book’ series pairs two things dairy farmers are passionate about – learning and nutrition – while strengthening connections with the next generation of dairy consumers in fun and interesting ways.”

The award-winning live stream events have reached more than 25,000 students and 1,300 teachers, delivering dairy’s nutritious message in ways that resonate with young minds. The sessions have run the gamut from interactions with Detroit Pistons mascot Hooper to stories read by Michigan dairy farmers, bookstore owners, UDIM team members and amateur or professional athletes.

“This program not only gets children thinking about dairy in their diets but also thinking about where that dairy comes from, and that’s important,” says dairy farmer Courtney Krentz, Alpena, Michigan. “The connection between farm to table is not something that comes naturally to many kids today. But something as simple as reading a book about dairy in front of cows gets their minds going and sparks questions and an interest in learning about agriculture.”

“Hosting the book reading from the dairy farm was quite exciting for me and the classrooms,” says dairy farmer Renee McCauley, Lowell, Michigan. “I sometimes forget what I see every day is not so common among students. Hosting a book reading from a dairy farm complements the entire experience. There were tons of questions and curiosity about the cows – they definitely stole the show, which made for a great opportunity to connect with listeners. To bridge the gap of understanding where our food comes from, we need to boldly emphasize farmers and farms.”

Palmerini adds her students were excited to ask questions and to be a part of something kids from other areas were participating in at the same time.

“Programs and events like this are unique opportunities to switch up the reading routine. They emphasize the importance of reading, showing how other people outside of the classroom value it and it helps the kids connect,” she says. “Thank you for hosting us! I am looking forward to taking part next year.”

To learn more about UDIM, or check out the “Breakfast and a Book” event recordings and learning materials, visit www.milkmeansmore.org/breakfast-and-a-book/

About the United Dairy Industry of Michigan
The United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) is dedicated to serving Michigan’s hard-working dairy farm families and promoting Michigan’s locally produced dairy products. UDIM is the umbrella organization for the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council of Michigan. These non-profit organizations provide dairy product promotion and nutrition education services on behalf of their funding members.