It has been over a month since shelter-in-place was first implemented throughout California in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the disruption it caused continues to dominate our lives. I am proud to share that as we find new ways to innovate and provide additional service to children, families and communities throughout the state, the Dairy Council of California team has found a rhythm that allows us to continue our work on behalf of the dairy industry.
We are pleased to announce the release of the spring issue of Trends, which monitors and tracks nutrition trends to anticipate future opportunities, risks and implications. It should be noted that this edition of Dairy Council of California Trends was developed based on inputs from the fall and winter months and does not take into account the recent environmental shifts from COVID-19. Aimed at health professionals, Trends looks at how nutrition science is evolving and shifting its focus from individual nutrient deficiencies to the relationship between eating patterns and chronic diseases, overall diet quality and benefits of foods beyond their nutrient content.
At CANDAC20, Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN and program director of marketing and communications at Dairy Council of California, was recognized for her outstanding commitment to community health and honored with the prestigious California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Excellence in Community Nutrition award. Bligh has been an integral part of Dairy Council of California for nearly four decades and is proud to champion the health of children and communities on behalf of the dairy community.
Dairy Council of California, in partnership with California Milk Processor Board and California Association of Food Banks, continues to lead a public awareness marketing campaign and update the dedicated food access landing page to support statewide efforts to nourish vulnerable children, families and communities. The landing page has expanded beyond school meal service sites to also include nearby food bank locations and distance learning nutrition resources, all conveniently housed in one place. A valued resource to California communities, the site has supported 269,136 site visits, which include 239,990 unique views and approximately 40% of viewers seeking information in Spanish.
We are also excited to share that, as of April 7, milk and dairy foods have been made more readily available to vulnerable families throughout the state. To address concerns that WIC participants across California were facing challenges finding WIC-authorized foods at grocery stores, the California WIC program expanded its WIC-allowable foods list to increase options for dairy milk, cheese and yogurt. This expanded policy is in effect until May 31, 2020. For more information, see the WIC vendor alert.
On April 3, we hosted our first virtual Mobile Dairy Classroom with Nepris, which was seen by 18,210 students in 669 classes across nine states. Inspired by the success of this innovation as a new opportunity to teach children and their families agricultural literacy, the journey of food and the food supply chain, dairy’s role in healthy eating patterns and ways to eat healthfully, we are now in partnership with California Milk Advisory Board to launch a virtual assembly field trip series to engage students and support distance learning. The first of the series will launch on April 23; learn more here.
On behalf of all of us at Dairy Council of California, thank you for the amazing work you are doing. We are proud to be part of the dairy community and are here to support you. To keep you informed and up to date, we will continue to share highlights as well as relevant information we receive on COVID-19 and resources like those shown below that may be useful to you and your organization:
- This updated link lists sources for personal protection equipment supplies.
- This federal information flyer helps critical infrastructure workers with do’s and don’ts for best safety practices if there has been exposure to COVID-19.
- Essential workers in search of open and available licensed child care providers can find the nearest provider to their home here. The site just launched and will be updated daily as additional providers become available.
- USDA announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) on April 17th to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. As part of CFAP, USDA will purchase and distribute up to $3 billion of agricultural products—specifically fresh produce, dairy and meat—to those in need. A solicitation for proposal will be issued in the next two weeks and more information can be found here.
If you have questions, concerns or updates on how the Dairy Council is responding to COVID-19, please contact me.