Engaging students and kids with positive dairy farming content is an important part of growing future consumers. While parents have the purchasing power, we should view these young people as drivers and influencers of dairy purchases. Through our work in schools, New England Dairy supports Connecticut Milk Promotion Board’s five-year target to realize an increase in dairy consumption and purchases throughout the Connecticut supply chain.
In schools we focus on ways to build trust and understanding of dairy with students, educators, and school nutrition professionals. This trust allows us to provide schools with additional opportunities to enhance the dairy experience and impact sales as well.
Adopt a Cow
This program is a year-long virtual experience administered by the Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania. Participating classrooms learn about a dairy farm through photos, stories, and a virtual farm tour. The program builds trust by connecting Connecticut students and teachers to a local dairy farm to learn about sustainability, nutrition, cow care, and more.
Dairy farmer Erica Hermonot from Fairholm Farm in Woodstock was selected to be the 2021-2022 host farm for Connecticut. 442 Connecticut classrooms are enrolled in the program reaching more than 10,000 students. In October, participating
classrooms received a kick-off email introducing them to their host farm and their adopted calf. In November, schools received their welcome packet with a letter, lesson plan, photo of their calf, and an ‘official’ adoption certificate. Educators receive bi-weekly emails with additional content and information from the farm.
Chill Out with Cold Milk Program
This effort helps schools implement best practices for serving the best tasting school milk possible. Based on our research with youth, we know that school milk can often be perceived as lower quality due to taste changes when it’s not kept at the proper temperature due to logistical challenges. This program aims to help schools identify and correct common issues with milk handling and serving the freshest, best-tasting milk possible. It is part of a long-term strategy, and the overall impact will be measured by future school milk data collection students and qualitative research with teens.
It began in May of 2021 with a webinar, cold milk toolkit, and cooler giveaway for schools who completed a survey ensuring the milk they service is as cold as possible. The program has continued into the 2021-2022 school year. The webinar recording lives on NewEnglandDairy.com, and toolkits continue to be available. Connecticut Dairy has provided funding for three cooler giveaways for completed cold milk surveys.
The first two winners in the Chill Out with Cold Milk cooler contest were Julia A. Stark Elementary in Stamford and Mayberry Elementary School in East Hartford. These schools took milk temperatures before, during, and after meal service and submitted a temperature survey to enter this contest. Another winner will be drawn from submitted surveys in March.
In December New England Dairy requested an additional $8,900 in funding from the CT Milk Promotion Board to provide a special Chill Out with Cold Milk training and cooler program to New Haven Public Schools. New Haven does not offer flavored milk most days in all schools, and this opportunity would allow us to increase the knowledge among staff and preserve milk sales.
Through multiple activities in schools, we are securing CT dairy consumers for the future.