Blog Test for DNN

14, June 2017 10:07 AM

June is Dairy Month, our favorite time of the year. It's also time to celebrate dads and grads. No matter what is on your agenda in June, there are plenty of ways to stay healthy and enjoy nutritious family meals at home.

Please note that June will be the last month of monthly meal ideas, as the Family Meals Matter column comes to an end on July 1. Rest assured that you and your family can continue to enjoy nutritious family meals with foods from all five food groups with more recipes on

Weekly Family Meal Recipes: June

01, June 2017 9:00 AM

June is Dairy Month, our favorite time of the year. It's also time to celebrate dads and grads. No matter what is on your agenda in June, there are plenty of ways to stay healthy and enjoy nutritious family meals at home.

Please note that June will be the last month of monthly meal ideas, as the Family Meals Matter column comes to an end on July 1. Rest assured that you and your family can continue to enjoy nutritious family meals with foods from all five food groups with more recipes on

June Family Meal Recipes

Dairy Month

Grilled Mahi Mahi + Asparagus with Lemon Butter with Apple Cheddar Quinoa Muffins and Honey Poached Pears; plus Shrimp and Cheddar Grits, Real California Curried Carrot Soup, Skillet Tuna Noodle Casserole and Yankee Grits.


Family Favorites

Cornmeal Crusted Chicken Nuggets with Blackberry MustardBroccoli with Creamy Parmesan sauce and Raspberry Mango Sundae; plus Simple Roast Chicken, Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Rhubarb Fool and Old Fashioned Spaghetti + Meatballs.

Thank you again, dear family meals fans. It's been a blast bringing these meal ideas to you every month.

Tags: balanced meals dairy month Healthy eating meal planning
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

Resources Help Build Appetites for Summer Meals

24, May 2017 8:00 AM

As many as 85 percent of children in California who rely on free or reduced lunch at school miss out on free healthy meals available from USDA during summer months. That means nearly 2 million California children are at risk of hunger because by some estimates, having kids at home over the summer without access to school meals can add as much as $300 to a family's monthly food bill.

The free summer meals program is invaluable since nutrition and academic achievement are linked. Helping kids stay healthy over the summer months means children will more likely be healthy and ready to learn when school starts up again in the fall. 

Dairy Council of California is sharing resources that help sites, sponsors, volunteers and advocates fight the summer hunger gap by promoting the free, healthy meals that include milk for all kids and youth 18 and under across California. Please share these promotional resources with other community partners like schools, child care resource centers, WIC clinics, pediatrician's offices, CalFresh offices, YMCA sites, community centers, libraries and more.

Promotional Graphics
Nothing beats an all-purpose flyer that provides the essential information needed to find a local summer meal anywhere. Available in both Spanish and English, these promotional, print-ready graphics can be used as school menu backs, in newsletters or even on websites or in social media. 

Right-click on each of these images to download the files to a computer for external use. 

Sacramento Summer Lunchbox

Summer meal locations that offer enrichment activities like crafts, literacy sessions or nutrition lessons have higher rates of participation throughout the summer. The Sacramento Summer Lunchbox is filled with hundreds of low and no-cost activities that summer meals staff and volunteers can lead with youth participants. While the website mentions Sacramento, none of the resources or materials are Sacramento-specific. 

Also included in the lunchbox are customizable and static flyers that can be used to promote summer meals. Promotional materials are available in Spanish, Hmong and Russian, as pictured at left. 

In addition to flyers, the lunchbox also contains pre-scripted newsletter articles, PSA scripts that can be used for robocalls, and even social media messages and images for Twitter and Facebook. The Sacramento Summer Lunchbox is chock full of promotional , marketing and enrichment resources to make serving summer meals easier.

Special thanks to United Way, California Capital Region and the Sierra Health Foundation for leading the development and hosting of this resource.

Milk-Specific Nutrition Activities

In honor of June being National Dairy Month, Dairy Council of California developed two milk-specific activity sheets that include information on all five food groups. These resources are great for use at summer meals or local health fairs, dairy tours or as part of a nutrition education lesson.

Click on each image to be directed to downloadable activity sheets than can be saved to the desktop for printing.




Thanks to free healthy meals from USDA, administered by the California Department of Education, no child needs to go hungry when school is out of session this summer. 

To find the nearest summer meal, text "FOOD" or "COMIDA" for Spanish to 877-877, dial 2-1-1 or visit

Tags: balanced meals food access healthy eating for kids nutrition education summer meals
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids categoryNutrition Education

California Students Exercise Creativity, Innovation and Empowerment During Cooking Up Change Competition

11, May 2017 10:25 AM

Every year, the Cooking up Change® contest from the Healthy Schools Campaign allows high school students from low-income schools the opportunity to transform their school lunch menu, develop valuable culinary arts skills and become leaders in school food reform. The Orange County event is coordinated locally through Kid Healthy, a non-profit founded in 2003 with a mission to address health and wellness by engaging school children and families in undeserved families in Southern California. With partners across the country, Cooking Up Change® encourages and empowers students to seek a secondary education in the culinary arts or nutrition sciences. Each team of three student chefs is challenged to create a new lunch menu following a strict set of criteria including: 

  • Utilize only ingredients commonly found in a school cafeteria,
  • Be created with a budget of $1.25 per serving, and
  • All entries must be creative, great tasting and nutritious. 

In Orange County, CA, nine teams competed in the challenge, presenting their meal to an esteemed panel of judges. The winning team  then travels to Washington, DC to compete against teams from Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix and Oakland, CA. 

This year, La Habra High School placed first with their Indian-Mexican inspired menu of Chicken Kashmir, Pepino Curry and Tropical Kheer (pictured at right). Seniors Isabella Moreno, Yazmin Marquez and Carlos Marquez will now compete in the Cooking up Change national finals, held at the Department of Education in Washington, DC, on June 12th.  

 An excellent showing was also prepared by Valley High School in Santa Ana with Caribbean Chicken over Cucayco (left) and California High School in Whittier placed third and was awarded Best Table Presentation.

Congratulations to all the Orange County winners and kudos to all California students who participated in the 2017 Cooking Up Change® competition. 

Tags: balanced meals culinary arts healthy eating for kids school lunch
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids

Celebrating Nutrition Educators Who Connect Learning to Life

08, May 2017 10:47 AM

It's Teacher Appreciation Week! And while five week days alone cannot contain the appreciation and esteem we have for educators everywhere, we feel it's very important to give teachers their due.

As a nutrition education organization, Dairy Council of California holds in particularly high esteem those educators who draw upon their personal passion and conviction to share messages of healthy eating and physical activity in their classrooms. Each year, we partner with the Southern California School Nutrition Association and Buena Vista Foods to sponsor the Eat Smart 2 Be Smart Outstanding Nutrition Educator contest. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we are delighted to share the stories of this year's winning educators with you.  

Ms. Diana Dababneh, a pre-school teacher at John F. Land School in Westminster incorporates food literacy in her classroom. Her lesson submission for the contest included reading the book, “I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato” by Lauren Child. Students discussed the fruits and vegetables they have at home and drew images of their favorite fruits and vegetables from the book. 

Ms. Dababneh then provided a hands-on activity where students touched and smelled fruits and vegetables from her garden. She says, “If they don’t experience a garden, they have no idea how things grow. Give them the experience so they can see, smell and taste. Give them a visual of real fruits and vegetables.” 

In addition, Ms. Dababneh created a mock food market in the classroom, enabling students to pretend to shop for fruits and vegetables. The lesson plan integrated many academic concepts including language and literacy, dramatic play, art, science, reasoning and analysis. Dababneh states, “As they learn in class, they will begin to ask their parents for a variety of produce.” 

Lastly, she and her students begin each day with morning exercises indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather, thereby modeling both healthy food and lifestyle choices for the preschool students.  Ms. Beverlee Mathenia, Executive director of Early Education & Expanded Learning for Westminster School District says, “Diana is a true role model for her peers and is dedicated to helping her students to see the importance of healthy eating and being active.” 

Mrs. Kat Clark, 6th grade teacher at Stauffer Middle School in Downey, CA who teaches a 6-week exploratory foods class to 6th grade students. The objective of her contest submission was for students to explore healthy eating options by interpreting ingredient lists and the Nutrition Facts label on food packages. Students used the Nutrition Detectives curriculum, developed by David Katz, MD, to review food labels and determine which foods were nutritious choices. 

With this new knowledge, the students developed Food Rules for Eating Healthy: Eat from the Earth; Choose Whole Grains; Eat More Fiber -- especially fruits and vegetables; Choose Snacks with a Short Ingredient List; and Rethink Your Drink. 

With the support of Mrs. Clark’s 7th and 8th grade classes and the Garden Club, students created a movie that is periodically aired on the campus TV station reinforcing healthy eating habits for all students on campus. 

The Eat Smart 2 Be Smart Nutrition Educator contest is to recognizes teachers for their dedication and commitment to improving the health of students by educating and empowering children to choose nutritious food and be active daily. Teachers are in a unique position to help students make the connection between learning about nutritious foods in the classroom and then choosing those foods in the cafeteria. Through hands-on, experiential learning, students become excited and motivated to try new foods and make nutritious choices. Sharing these innovative stories about teaching nutrition in the classroom helps motivate and empower other teachers.

The Nutrition Educator Award is just one way the Eat Smart 2 Be Smart committee is achieving their goal of recognizing the positive contributions being made by teachers to support school meal programs through nutrition education. Dababneh (left) and Clark’s (with flowers at right) stories and related videos, are housed on the website created to provide valuable resources for students, teachers, parents and its members.

Congratulations again  Diana Dababneh and Kat Clark for going the extra mile to connect learning to life in your classrooms with nutrition education. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to you and all the educators who enrich our children's lives.

Tags: elementary food literacy nutrition education nutrition lesson plans physical activity school nutrition
Categories: categoryNutrition Education

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