Quail Lake Environmental Charter School Students Make Farm-to-School Connection With Dairy Cow and Calf

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CLOVIS ROUNDUP STAFF

Students at Quail Lake Environmental Charter School learned firsthand about the role of agriculture in the food supply, how milk and dairy foods get from the farm to the table, and received a visit from a real cow and calf on March 8.

Dairy Council of California’s Mobile Dairy Classroom Assembly is California’s original Farm-to-School program, originating in the 1930s. This learning lab teaches K-6 students about food literacy, where milk and dairy foods come from, cow care on the farm, the five food groups, the milking process and agriculture technology. Language arts, math and science are integrated into the lesson, which aligns with Common Core State Standards.

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The Mobile Dairy Classroom complements other nutrition education programs offered by Dairy Council of California, including free, in-classroom nutrition curriculum. When the assembly follows the classroom nutrition lessons designed to build healthy-eating behaviors from all five food groups, students make a powerful food literacy connection.

This learning continues in the school cafeteria where Dairy Council of California and partners like the California Department of Education and University of California Cooperative Extension provide technical assistance implementing behavioral economics with the Smarter Lunchroom Movement, a program that encourages students to making better nutrition decisions by changing the way food choices are presented in cafeterias.

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“For many students, this is the first opportunity they have to see a cow up close,” said Mishael McDougal, the Mobile Dairy Classroom instructor who taught the assembly at Quail Lake Environmental Charter. “And while the students are having fun, the lessons they are learning are important. Through the assembly and other Dairy Council of California nutrition education programs, kids enhance their food literacy skills, ultimately obtaining a better understanding of where their milk comes from, how it gets to the school cafeteria, and why it’s important to make healthy choices from all five food groups.”

Today, the Mobile Dairy Classroom reaches more than 450,000 students, with six full-time instructors who travel to elementary schools, agriculture days and fairs throughout California. The assemblies are offered at no cost to schools and are part of dairy farm families’ and dairy companies’ efforts to give back to the community.