Episode 25 – How Has Dairy Consumption Changed In Schools And Kids? New Youth Wellness Research Focuses Industry Direction.

Much has changed in the world since the pandemic, including dairy consumption at schools. Has it gone up or down? How does dairy consumption at school affect home consumption and vice versa? What should the dairy industry be focused on when it comes to children’s nutrition and youth wellness? What does this new research tell us about our Fuel Up program, the largest health and wellness program in schools?

Listen as New York dairy farmer, United Dairy Industry Association board member, and National Dairy Council Chair Audrey Donahoe discusses the checkoff’s new youth wellness research with Anne Warden, Executive Vice President of Marketing, Communications, and Affairs at Dairy Management Inc., and Tim Joyce, Principal at ZS. They will chat about what the research says and how it will guide the dairy industry’s efforts to help kids, schools, and dairy farmers. Tune in to find out!

To learn more about the national dairy checkoff and your local dairy checkoffs, please visit www.usdairy.com.

Dairy Farmer Hosts:

  • Farmer Host: Audrey Donahoe

Dairy Farmer Guests:

  • Farmer Guest: Anne Warden, Executive Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Affairs at Dairy Management Inc.
  • Farmer Guest: Tim Joyce, Principal at ZS

Stay Informed

Keep up to date on the latest dairy promotion and research. Sign up for our bimonthly Dairy Checkoff newsletter.

Summary (Machine-generated)

Dairy consumption and marketing strategies for children. 0:00

Dairy management in schools and consumer trust. 1:52

School meal programs and their impact on children’s health. 6:55

Dairy industry’s role in school nutrition and product experience. 11:54

Dairy consumption and education in schools. 16:37

Improving nutrition education in schools. 21:37

Dairy farmer support for youth wellness research. 26:34

Transcript (Machine-generated)

Tim Joyce 0:00
There’s a huge correlation between what’s consumed in the school channel and what’s consumed at home. In other words, we can guess how much milk you’re drinking at home by knowing how much milk you’re drinking at school. So that relationship is so important because it puts the school channel in the context of broader retail. And it indicates to us that the opportunity in the school channel is not just a school channel opportunity for the dairy industry, but it’s a broader retail opportunity to and and the opportunity size is commensurate meaning if you’re going to gain a million pounds of dairy in school, we think there’s another million pounds to be gained at the same time in retail because those behaviors are so closely linked.

Audrey Donahoe 0:54
To your Dairy Checkoff podcast where farmers discuss checkoff programs directly with dairy industry experts, and national and local dairy promotion staff. We want to help you understand checkoff programs and how they are helping to drive dairy sales and build consumer trust. I’m Audrey Donahoe, a dairy farmer from New York. I’m also United Dairy Industry Association, board member and chair of the National Dairy Council. Today I will be talking with an Warden, executive vice president of marketing, communications and affairs for dairy management Incorporated, and Tim Joyce, principal for Zs. We will discuss the new research on children’s dairy consumption, and Youth Wellness. This research has provided us with new insights on where, when, and how dairy is consumed by kids, as well as what programs could benefit both children and dairy farmers. And please tell us about your role at Dairy management Incorporated.

Anne Warden 1:52
Hi, Audrey. Thanks so much for having me. So my role in dairy management and on behalf of America’s dairy farmers is to work to revitalize dairy and dairy farming relevance with consumers in order to drive trust in sales. And much of that work is dedicated to securing the next generation of dairy consumers.

Audrey Donahoe 2:11
That’s great. And thank you for being with us today. And, Tim, could you tell us about your role at Z? Yes,

Tim Joyce 2:17
director. Thanks for having me. I’m Tim Joyce. I’m a principal at Zs. I lead our food and beverage practice. And our focus is helping our clients across the food and beverage value chain drive growth.

Audrey Donahoe 2:29
So dairy management Incorporated, along with Zs recently conducted new research on children, both in home and in school. And I wondered if you too, could share a little bit with us about what did the research shows First,

Tim Joyce 2:43
there’s a symbiosis between dairy in schools and retail, the experience in one impacts the other and again, we can get into into this more in a bit. But importantly, growing dairy in schools isn’t just about impacting dairy sold into the school channel, it’s about what happens at retail to second, the biggest opportunity to grow in the school channel is on the product experience side of milk specifically, and we can get into how this research gets pretty specific about what elements of the product experience can really be improved. And then then nutrition education is really a white space. In schools today. It’s not really happening. And that’s according to students, parents, and to school administrators and educators that we interviewed. So there’s really an opportunity to improve nutrition education. And we also understand from this research that it is a driver of student consumption of dairy in the school channel. And last, and again, we’ll go in more detail in a bit. There is an opportunity to drive consumption of milk in schools specifically through greater participation in breakfast programs. That’s

Audrey Donahoe 3:56
great. You know, that’s always been very important to a dairy farmer. You know, I’m producing a wholesome, healthy and nutritious and delicious product. And taking it to schools and making a good experience for the children is very important to dairy farmers because, you know, not only for their health, but they’re our future consumers. So and maybe you could share a little bit more on that with for us.

Anne Warden 4:19
Sure. Well, as you said Audrey milk and dairy have always played a critical role in schools. Thanks a lot to the investment of dairy farmers like you. But as we looked at the school environment, particularly today, and while we recognize that schools are still the primary place where kids are getting access to healthy meals, particularly male, there are all kinds of new pressures on schools and their ability to serve milk and dairy to teach about dairies nutrition. There are pressures on food service staff, their ability to provide meals, there’s pressures on schools to give different options to kids. Kids are coming in with totally different expectations. depends on food and beverages. And then of course, we know that there are a lot of pressures and classrooms from those who would want to spread misinformation about animal agriculture about dairy. So we really needed a new approach to ensuring the dairy was going to maintain that place that dairy farmers have created in schools. But let’s just talk a minute about what’s at stake here. Because I know Audrey, you’re as passionate about this as I am. The reality is that most kids by age four are not getting the recommended servings of dairy. And the most common nutrient deficiencies in kids are iron, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, all things that we know milk and some dairy products provide, not to mention a critical source of protein that we know kids need in order to succeed in school, academically, in after school, sports and all the things that they want to do. So this isn’t just a concern about dairy, and its ability to show up. This is a public health concern. This is about setting healthy habits for as you said, that next generation for consumers. So you know, our staff and the staff that worked for you, Audrey, and all the other dairy farmers, they’re in schools, they see this happening, they’ve been on the front line, you’ve seen this in schools. But we really needed some clear research that was going to demonstrate to others outside of our dairy community that we needed to make a difference in school. So kids were able to get the nutrition that dairy provides. And this research has really let us get to the heart of what’s at stake if we don’t act urgently.

Audrey Donahoe 6:40
So you know, back to the school landscape. Now, that is definitely changed, and especially post COVID. Could you guys share with us what the landscape looks like now the changes that have been made? You know, and where are we going post COVID.

Tim Joyce 6:55
First, there’s dispersion of what health means to administrators, educators, and students focused on more acute things, obviously, upper respiratory infections, but also a bigger focus on mental health overall, which has an impact on our ability to educate students on important things like nutrition, because it takes airtime, there are only so many hours in the school day. And that dispersion of what it means to talk about and educate students on health effectively crowds out some of the opportunity that we have to educate on nutrition. Another piece of feedback, we heard from administrators that resources are tighter when it comes to programs that happen in the school. And so initiatives that come in to the school or Avi, often heavily influenced by or driven by the head of school, the principal. And so their impact is incredible in determining what shows up in the curriculum, and perhaps more so post COVID than pre COVID.

Anne Warden 7:58
You know, and just to build on that, Tim, I think one of the silver linings of the pandemic is that. See, as we know, schools have always been a food security channel, they’ve always been a place where families, particularly those who come from vulnerable communities rely on to get a source of healthy meals. But the pandemic really opened people’s eyes to that really helped the rest of society see how critical schools are. Yet, we’re seeing more difficulty than ever in those schools being able to provide those healthy meals, whether it’s staff shortages, as Tim said, whether it’s inflation, its impact on costs. And you know, with all of this new awareness of how critical schools are yet how deficient they sometimes can be in providing that it really shows that the time is now to make a change. That is

Tim Joyce 8:55
its health. Its quality, too. We heard from a number of principals, folks who work on student menus and work on meal programs in schools, that they’re just not proud of the quality of what they’re serving and that students notice the quality. And so there is a milieu of food that students don’t want to eat. That’s really impacting the overall participation in in meal programs at schools.

Audrey Donahoe 9:24
And one of the things that stood out to me was the linkage with home and school. So I wondered if you guys could touch a little bit more on that, you know, besides for school, what is that linkage with home with these children as well.

Tim Joyce 9:36
When we started Audrey, there were a large number of factors that we hypothesized could impact consumption of dairy at school. And we wanted to make sure we kept our eye on the dairy culture at home, too. So we went out Nast students and parents of students, how much milk are you drinking at home? How much dairy is consumed in this Rule channel. And what we found is that there’s a huge correlation between what’s consumed in the school channel and what’s consumed at home. In other words, we can guess how much milk you’re drinking at home by knowing how much milk you’re drinking at school. So that relationship is so important because it puts the school channel in the context of broader retail. And it indicates to us that the opportunity in the school channel is not just a school channel opportunity for the dairy industry, but it’s a broader retail opportunity to and and the opportunity size is commensurate. Meaning if you’re going to gain a million pounds of dairy in school, we think there’s another million pounds to be gained at the same time in retail, because those behaviors are so closely linked,

Anne Warden 10:48
you know, and Audrey, I think that what we saw in this research, this connection between home and school, though what happens there affects what gets consumed in schools, and vice versa. I think dairy farmers and staff have always known that. But to see that up close in detail numbers really emphasizes just how closely they’re linked and that it’s not just about having a school strategy or a retail strategy, we need to have an overall youth strategy. And that’s something that our pharma leaders have have pressed for a while now. And in fact, we’ve spent the past several years really focusing on that youth audience overall, knowing that a lot of the information they get is coming from outside that school building, whether it’s on YouTube or Tik Tok, or from their parents. And so I think the good news is, is that checkoff has already started to make sure that we are looking at youth holistically. And we are already reaching them not only in that school building, but in all the other places that’s influencing not only their choices of what to eat and drink, but also their perceptions about the dairy category overall.

Audrey Donahoe 11:54
Are you guys sharing that with our partners, the coops fluid milk school processors, like now that we’ve taken it to this new level? You know, what have you guys done beyond sharing it with farmers and the research studies? Where else are you sharing all of this great information?

Anne Warden 12:11
Absolutely. And you know, Audrey, another place where the foresight of dairy farmers have put us in such a great position to make an impact in schools and that you’ve long expected us to convene across the value chain, put mechanisms in place where we are able to bring co ops, processors, dairy companies, brands, partners of the food and beverage space together in order to meet the demands of the marketplace. So we are leaning on all of those opportunities, whether it’s through the Innovation Center for us dairy, or the many relationships we have and the work we do through our state and regional checkoff organizations. So we’re using it all the might of our checkoff relationships to deliver this research and make sure they understand where they can play a part in schools. But I think a really important thing for us to recognize and to vocalize is that this just can’t be on the backs of the dairy industry. You know, we need to share this research. And we are sharing this research with organizations outside of our industry, government, medical experts, school nutrition leaders, as I said before, this is a public health issue. And dairy farmers have been helping meet that need for generations, but we need more. And so we need to go out and beyond and really take on an effort that delivers the collective impact of all of those partners. We have health and wellness organizations are partners with National Milk working across government and other agencies. We all have to step up on behalf of kids. And so we’re using this research to really getting them engaged as well as align our industry together.

Audrey Donahoe 13:57
I wonder, you know, like there’s I’ve been a leader in promotion for 22 years now representing dairy farmers. And I’m very proud of that. It seems as though I always have an aha moment. Have you had any feedback or responsive? That has been an aha moment from you from feedback from sharing this with these other organizations? Processors? Co Ops?

Anne Warden 14:18
Yeah, I’ll go first. And then Tim, I’d love to hear if you’ve heard it. Yeah. Has I think, Audrey what we’ve shared it particularly with the dairy farmer leaders like you and others. It’s not particularly surprising some of the things that this this research, eliminated, you know, the product experience matters, right? It’s about the packaging. It’s about the fat level. It’s about the flavor. It’s all the things that people love in foods, and that makes a difference to the school dairy experience. Access to the products matters a ton. Is it there at breakfast, are there mobile options in the schools? All of the These things make a really big difference whether a child is consuming a small amount of dairy versus the recommended amount of dairy. But I think what’s what has been really eye opening in this research is that now we’re seeing the size. For each of these opportunities, we can see concretely, what is the size of consumption that we could drive? In order to help kids reach reach those recommended servings, we’re able to pinpoint exactly what are the biggest bets. And I really think that accuracy is what’s going to matter the most to our partners, because these are not small hills to climb, right, you know, making sure more kids are participating in breakfast, a changing the quality of the school milk product, these are big honking things to get done. And so we’re going to have to choose our bets clearly. And I think it’s really important now that dairy farmers are going to have a accurate view of if I invest here, here is exactly what the return on investment could be. And that is eye opening.

Tim Joyce 16:07
You know, this research also exposes the risk to the industry in the school channel, given the impact and the importance of product experience and product quality. If the product experience is depreciated, the impacts are going to be hugely negative. And so we need to shout that from the rooftops and let people know that, you know, students really care about the experience, particularly of milk that they get in schools, and that has a huge impact on their behavior.

Anne Warden 16:37
So I’m Tim, that’s such a great point. You know, I mean, we all see the decline in milk consumption because people are eating differently. They’re, you know, we have an ongoing increase in consumption of dairy year over year, which is wonderful. But milk is such a critical nutrient source for kids. And this research clearly shows the job we have to do in order to stem that decline. It’s good for dairy farmers, and it’s good for kids.

Audrey Donahoe 17:09
That leads me to my next point with checkoff, how are we going to use this information? And what are we going to do with this research? Is it going to change the way we’re doing our fuel up program?

Anne Warden 17:20
Yeah, I’ll go ahead. And I’ll get started on that, Tim, and then I’d love to hear your thoughts. I mean, first, Audrey, it’s given us three clear focus areas where we’re going to drive a difference for how the school channel impacts our overall reach with youth. And the first is we’ve talked about a bunch here is that milk experience, the milk experience in school, as we saw in this research, not only is significantly impacting the consumption in schools, it’s having an effect at home too. And so that’s really critical. So we’re going to be working really closely with our dairy industry in order to evaluate, evaluate, where we can make those improvements, whether there’s an opportunity to address the packaging, the formulation, whether there are shelf stable options, whether there’s lactose free options to address a growing multicultural population, there are a lot of opportunities, they are going to be significant investments that this industry will have to make. So it’s, as I said, not something that can be done on the backs of the dairy industry alone. But we’re going to be working across the industry to determine where to we as a collective value chain want to focus on that milk experience. The second thing that we’re really going to focus in is one of our biggest opportunities to increase consumption. And that’s breakfast, which is not a new concept at all. But I think when we look at how the pandemic affected breakfast participation, we recently heard from USDA that Oh, from 2022 to 2023, there were 23 million fewer breakfast meals served. I mean, there’s a massive drop, even as we come out of the pandemic. And it’s a struggle for districts because you know, it’s like staffing, shoe storage, the stigma that comes along with being a child that wants to it needs to get breakfast at the schools. So not just making sure that milk and dairy is a part of breakfast it is and we can continue to do more. More kids need to participate in breakfast. It’s good for dairy, and it is really, really good for kids ability to learn and succeed. So that’s going to be our number two biggest area. And then the third one, which is is very important, too, is how we look differently at bringing dairy into education. That’s something that dairy farmers have done for over a century right. It’s at the foundation of how checkoff National Dairy concert was He was formed. And unfortunately, what we saw in this research is nutrition education is not as big a part of schooling, as it may be once was, there are fewer and fewer kids that are getting any kind of formal nutrition education. Yet we know very well that a lot of these kids are being affected by misinformation, sometimes, unfortunately, inadvertently coming through the school or coming through their teachers. So this reacher says, show that it’s still very, very important that we are in school education, but we’re going to have to do it differently. We’re not going to be able to rely on that formal nutrition class anymore to deliver it or the health class. It’s just there isn’t the space in schools always to do that we got to look at different opportunities, we have to look particularly at older kids, we saw in this research that high school aged kids are having, there’s a much bigger opportunity to impact their perceptions of dairy through what they learn at schools, we have a really big opportunity to affect what they’re learning in science classes, a lot of kids are starting to think differently about foods and beverages based on how its produced. And we need to make sure that accurate information about dairy farming and production is in those classes. So we’re still going to be doing education, but we’re going to be it’d be thinking differently about it. And we’ve actually made major headway in effecting science curriculums to ensure that there is accurate information coming from dairy farmers into schools.

Tim Joyce 21:36
You said it so eloquently, but I think focus is is the word. You know, the industry, DMI states and regions. A lot of things have been tried a lot of great programs and pilots have been executed, many hypotheses have been tested. Now we know there are a hierarchy of calling the big three opportunities, product and experience, breakfast participation, you know, and improving nutrition, education, driving nutrition education, and really on very specific lines within each of those, there are very specific things to address within each of those. So driving that focus, having a quantified impact, as you mentioned. And so you can put those things in a hierarchy and have a local decision tree, a decision tree that’s applicable at a state level at a at a school district level, even if you want where you can really pick an initiative and decide what’s the right initiative at this local level. And I think that’s what this research brings. And I think it is going to help the industry allocate resources in a way that’s much much more impactful.

Audrey Donahoe 22:48
So when we had talked about the fuel up, and you know, Fuel Up to Play 60, how can we evolve that to be a better program throughout the United States for all kids.

Anne Warden 22:58
And Audrey, we are so lucky to have the leadership of dairy farmers like you who have pushed us as checkoff staff to maintain the legacy but constantly think differently, constantly be responding with opportunities that bring more value to dairy farmers. And I think as you said, fuel up is a perfect example of how we have retained that impact of the past. But we’re going to be doing things that are going to deliver even more scale of impact. And as we talked about, you know, schools have just changed dramatically through the pandemic, but in so many different ways. And Fuel Up to Play 60 was a great way to get kids excited and kids invested in creating healthy change for their school communities. But now our opportunities are so much bigger than just even one singular in school program. So as you said, we’re going to be expanding to fuel up so beyond fuel 2060 fuel up, because truly, you know good nutrition that’s in dairy in dairy can feel so much more than physical activity. It’s at the heart of how we make sure our kids have a healthy start not only in the school day, but for the rest of their lives. So we’re going to leverage the platform of fuel up to partners beyond the NFL, we still have a strong relationship with the NFL. They care so deeply about dairy farmers, Commissioner Goodell really wants to continue to support dairy farmers. But this is gonna let us bring in a whole range of partners that we work with so many American Academy of Pediatrics Mayo Clinic, there’s so many great partners that we have that care about the power of nutrition, and we’re going to leverage that to help infuse lifelong habits for kids. We have been talking with our teacher relationships which the state and regional organizations who we know are really at the front line who are have been delivering this change and holes, we’ve been talking with the teachers who are advocates of fuel up. And they are so happy about this change. They have said yes, this is this is the world that we’re dealing with, we need to focus on things like what’s going to drive academic achievement? How are we going to support social and emotional health for these kids, there’s so many other expectations on our teachers today. And they have been thrilled that we’re gonna bring so many more additional resources to them. And I think the other thing that I’m so excited about is, we’re still going to have the ability to bring the power of dairy farming into schools, thankfully, from farmers like you who do it personally. But some of the work that I’m extremely excited about is how we’re helping high school science curriculum writers design curriculum based on visits to the farm. So we have science curriculum, writers who are traveling to farms all across the country, doing multi day intensives, where they’re working with dairy farmers like you, they’re understanding the science behind milk production and animal care and land management. And then they’re taking those learnings and they’re infusing them into high school curriculum. So that even if we all can’t visit every school in this country, as many times as we want to the story of dairy farming, the accuracy of it, the understanding of how it’s such an important part of food, security of our economy, all of that is now being delivered at a much larger scale. And I think like you said, it’s just taking the legacy that you created, and making it continue on such a bigger level, you know,

Audrey Donahoe 26:42
and it’s such exciting, exciting stuff. So, you know, tell me as a dairy farmer and all the other dairy farmers that are listening, what can we do locally, to help enhance and bring this program research and findings to the next level and exactly what it is you’re trying to accomplish with the fuel up?

Anne Warden 26:59
Sure. Well, I mean, schools are local, you know, there is no one national way of helping students in schools across this country. And I think just like our state and regional staff are the ones who are going to be guiding us on how we take fuel up and make it relevant for the districts and schools in different parts of the country. I think farmers have that view as well. I mean, the you are oftentimes the the heart of communities, you’re a trusted, reputable source in those communities. And so I think giving us feedback on what districts and schools what you see are leaning really matters. I think it’s really great that farmers have pushed us to deliver even more impact through their checkoff. And so we’re going to be looking to do things that really drives scale, because we can’t be in every single school building in the way that we want to be every day. But I do think those farmers who have the ability to stay connected to their local schools, we all know, you know, you might have heard something online about dairy, but you meet a dairy farmer, you go on a dairy farm, and your whole worldview changes about it, you know, you are, that is the best way to convert someone to understand the power of dairy. And so as farmers are able to do that, and invite people to their farm, or go visit a school that will continue to always make a big difference. And I think that that will continue our passion and commitment for supporting youth.

Audrey Donahoe 28:30
So, you know, I just wondered, little feedback from both of you, what is the one thing you’d like farmers to take away from this research and everything that we’ve talked about today,

Tim Joyce 28:40
me the opportunity to improve and grow return dairy to growth in the school channel is significant, and that it’s related to what happens in retail, so that there’s a really big opportunity here, and then it’s worth the investment to go after it.

Anne Warden 28:56
I think I’ll echo what Tim said earlier, focus is going to be key. There are a lot a lot of ways that we can support schools and youth. But dairy farmers have a lot of big opportunities across the marketplace, to drive trust in sales. And so we’ve got to be really precise and where we place our investments. So we know we’re delivering a return. But then I get to echo what Tim just said again, it is not just about a school strategy. It’s really about how do we holistically secure the next generation of dairy consumers. There are new expectations there are new pressures. But dairy continues to deliver this powerhouse of nutrition that has the capacity to meet the health and wellness needs that so many young people are seeking in a way that’s that’s tasty and brings them enjoyment. And so we really are looking at this holistically not only across schools and all the ways that dairy farmers are live big impact through there check off.

Audrey Donahoe 30:02
Before we wrap up. Is there anything else you wanted to add to today’s discussion, Tim or

Anne Warden 30:07
an incredibly grateful to dairy farmers for their continued support? You know, there are things that we focus on, that farmers have asked us to do, because if we don’t do it, no one will. And that’s a huge whether it’s our science, whether it’s the insights that we’re bringing to the entire value chain, where the biggest opportunities are like this research, whether it’s where we’re showing up in places like schools where there is a dire public need. If your checkoff staff were not here doing this, you know, it might not happen. And so we are just so incredibly grateful for the support that you and other farmers give us and our commitment to bring even more value for you.

Audrey Donahoe 30:54
So thank you and and Tim, for the discussion today. Oh, it was a great discussion. It’s been interesting to hear about the checkouts research into Youth Wellness. In closing, we just want to say thank you for joining us today. If you want to hear more about various issues affecting the dairy community. Subscribe to this podcast on your favorite podcast platforms, including Stitcher, Spotify and iTunes. Or you can check out our website Dairy Checkoff. podcast.com for future episodes. Until next time, have a great day.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

podcast earbuds

Want to give us feedback and win a pair of Your Dairy Checkoff Podcast ear buds?

If you are a dairy farmer or a dairy industry professional, we would love to get your feedback on the podcast. Just fill out this short survey and you’ll be registered to win a pair of Your Dairy Checkoff Podcast ear buds. One in five wins! Click here to take the survey!