How to Encourage Your Teenager to Conquer with Milk

The story of calcium and the role it plays in protecting our bones is one most of us are probably familiar with. In fact, you might even be able to recall a parent, teacher or mentor encouraging you to drink your milk when you were younger because of its rich calcium content.

No matter how you discovered the connection, calcium and dairy go hand in hand. Yet knowing that calcium is important and that dairy foods can help you better meet your calcium goals isn’t enough. You actually have to drink your milk and eat your yogurt to benefit.

Unfortunately, not everyone is incorporating the recommended amount of dairy necessary to meet their calcium needs. This is particularly true for girls between the ages of 14 and 18 who, on average, only consume about 1 1/2  cups of milk or dairy a day. This is alarming because teenagers have a crucial need to for calcium at this stage of their lives. With a higher need for calcium, teenage girls face a double-whammy – increased calcium requirements and a tougher time incorporating calcium-rich foods due to a variety of reasons. Busy schedules, increased access to unhealthy food choices, peer pressure, and less family meals together might be just a few of those reasons over 85% of teenage girls fall short on this nutrient in particular.

As a parent, it may seem impossible to encourage your teenager to change the way they eat. Yet thanks to milk and its versatility, you may find that your teenage daughter just needs a little creative inspiration to incorporate more dairy, even just one glass day, into her busy and active life to better meet her daily needs.

How to Encourage Your Teenager to Conquer with Milk

To help your teenager incorporate more dairy into her everyday moments, consider the following:

Set the stage. If you want your teenagers to eat well, make sure they have easy access to nutrient-rich foods. When it comes to dairy, this means keeping yogurt, milk and cheese readily available throughout the week. Keeping these products front and center in your refrigerator can be helpful or even consider having a few dairy-inclusive snack ideas printed out and posted on your fridge. This can help keep dairy top-of-mind when your teenager is looking for a snack in between meals or if hunger strikes after an event at school.

Plan meals together. Odds are good that your teenage daughter is beginning to express her own unique personality through the decisions she makes on a daily basis. With that independence, you may feel like there is less opportunity to impact the choices she makes; however, in reality, you can help foster positive decision making by encouraging her to make positive choices. One way to do that is to invite your teenager to help plan out what foods are available in the home. Does she have a favorite type of yogurt? Does she prefer chocolate milk to white? Giving her the ability to have input in food purchasing and planning decisions can solidify ownership over those foods, making them much more likely to be a hit in your home. Your teenager may also have great ideas for incorporating a variety of foods into regular meals and, if you aren’t already doing so, may increase the likelihood of enjoying family meals together.

Focus on what matters to her.  Whether your teenager is active in sports, an honor student, or both, what they eat absolutely impacts their performance. By focusing on what matters in her life, you can begin discussing how foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt can enhance those activities and allow your teenager to perform at her optimum level. It puts some of that “healthy food” knowledge into real life terms, giving context as to why it matters.

Encourage them to conquer. Enjoying dairy-rich foods can be a part of your teenage daughter’s story. You can encourage her to conquer her world with a glass of milk in hand by introducing her to Conquer with Milk on Instagram and Twitter. By following us there, your teenager will have access to teen-friendly recipes, content, and inspiring insights from top female athletes that we’ve partnered with to share the story of milk. Check it out today – it’s really a great place to start.

With these helpful tips, your teenager will be well on her way to incorporating the recommended three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt a day. And even if they don’t thank you now, their bones will when they are older.

5 Reasons Why Protein is the Latest Buzzword

So what is all the buzz with protein these days? Is it just another fad for weight loss gurus and bodybuilders? Absolutely not. Protein is an important nutrient found in food and is essential for muscle repair, weight management and so much more! Yet not all protein-containing foods are treated equally. Foods rich in high-quality protein like dairy, eggs, meat, poultry, pork, fish and soy contain all nine essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own. Amino acids are building blocks of protein that help build, repair and maintain body tissue. This is why high-quality protein is so vital to our bodies.

5 Reasons Why Protein is the Latest Buzzword

Recently, research has shown that it’s not just how much protein you eat, but when you eat it that makes a big impact on your health. Consuming similar amounts of protein at each meal throughout the day may actually be more beneficial than trying to cram in your entire days’ worth of protein at one meal. Unfortunately, for most Americans, protein needs are often attempted to be met primarily at dinner with intake at breakfast and lunch falling short.

Protein is important, but unless you know why it’s beneficial, it may be difficult to make room for it throughout your day. Protein is essential for many reasons, but here are five that might cause you to think differently about this nutrient:

1. Protein provides satiety

Eating a higher-protein diet, which means getting about 30 percent of your calories from protein, can lead to greater satiety at meals which may lead to less overeating.

2. Protein is beneficial for weight loss and weight maintenance

Research shows that consuming a diet a bit higher than the daily protein recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (0.8 grams protein/kg of body weight per day) and consuming 25-30 grams of protein per meal can help with weight loss and weight maintenance. This is possibly due to the effect protein has on satiety levels and proposed reduction of overall caloric intake.

3. Protein aides in the benefits of exercise

Consuming high-quality protein may also help with faster recovery after workouts, increased muscle repair and improved muscle mass and strength.

4. Protein optimizes body strength 

Not only is protein important for exercise, but some studies have also shown that it helps prevent muscle loss, a concerning issue as we age. Eating a diet higher in protein in addition to regular physical activity is thought to help slow the progression of muscle mass loss and function.

5. Protein is found in so many delicious foods and can be cost-effective, too

A glass of milk, which contains 8 grams of protein, is one of the most affordable protein sources available at only 25 cents per eight ounce serving. Additional high-quality protein sources and the amount of protein found in each include:

6 ounces of non-fat Greek yogurt: 17 g

1 slice of cheddar cheese: 7 g

8 ounces of low-fat cottage cheese: 27 g

3-ounce serving of beef: 25 g

3-ounce serving of chicken breast: 26 g

1 large egg: 6 g

Eating at least three dairy servings throughout the day such as a glass of milk or yogurt at each meal time is an easy way to up your protein intake and reap the numerous benefits that protein has on your health. Incorporating other protein-rich foods, like the ones listed above, can also help you better reach optimal protein levels each day.

What do Dairy Farmers do in the Winter?

So often everyone thinks the winter is a vacation since we aren’t growing or harvesting crops. Obviously since we’re dairy farmers we still have lots of work year around. But we don’t quit thinking and talking about crops just because nothing is growing. Since we are feeding our harvest all year long we are constantly evaluating it. In addition, this is the time of the year to make our plan for next year. With help from my brother Kevin, I am going to share how farmers prepare for the growing season.

All winter we have been planning what we will plant where, how much of each crop we will harvest, how we will fertilize the crops, and keep pests out. The first piece of this puzzle is determining out how much we need to grow to feed the animals next year. We look at how many tons we harvested last year and predict what we might need this next year. It is always better to have a little extra than not enough.

On our farm we regularly rotate our crops to keep our soils healthy. This means we don’t grow the same crop on the same field year after year, just like you wouldn’t eat the same thing for every meal for weeks or months at a time. By rotating our crops, we break up the natural cycle of diseases and pests that prey on our crops. This not only leads to higher yields on our farm, it also keeps our soil nutrients from becoming depleted as not all crops require the same amount of the different nutrients. Protecting soil health by rotating crops is an important step in making sure the land will be in good shape for the future generations of farmers to continue doing what they love.

What do Dairy Farmers do in the Winter?

Throughout the winter, farmers think ahead to spring when they will begin preparing their fields to grow the crops they will feed their cows for the next year.

Part of taking care of our land means we monitor it closely and make decisions based on what it needs. We work with several professional agronomists to test the nutrient levels in the soil on our farm. They take soil samples in a grid fashion, breaking large fields into smaller blocks with a GPS reference point. With this information, we make plans to apply the nutrients our crops will need in each section of our fields at a variable rate based on the sample grid. This helps in preventing us from over-applying nutrients because when it comes to fertilizer, more is not always better.

We also need to purchase our seed. We work with several local salespeople and discuss what varieties of corn, hay, wheat and beans will work well with our soil and needs. We look for seed varieties that have tolerance to diseases common in our area and have traits that will make excellent cow food. Farmers are also trying to guess how the growing season will be and pick a variety that will also thrive in that kind of a growing season. When these are decided we put our order in and seed is set to be delivered in the spring.

Even though snow is on the ground, it doesn’t mean farmers are sitting there twiddling their thumbs. A lot goes into a growing season and now is when it all comes to fruition!

5 Not-So-Sneaky Ways to Get More Protein into Your Day

Protein continues to be the buzz-worthy nutrient in 2016, and for good reason! Research continues to support the important role protein plays in our diets.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate point out that variety is key when it comes to protein foods. This includes lean meat and poultry, non-fat and low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, seafood, eggs, beans and legumes. While you might think of protein in terms of a piece of grilled chicken or a bowl of lentil soup, there are a few tricks to get more protein into your day without much effort! Here’s how:

5 Not-So-Sneaky Ways to Get More Protein into Your Day

  1. Serve milk at meals and with snacks. Milk, and other dairy products are considered complete, high-quality sources of protein that provide the full package of essential amino acids our bodies need to promote muscle growth and improve weight management. Plant proteins, such as grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are incomplete proteins, and do not provide that optimal mix of amino acids. So if you are eating more plant proteins at meals, consider adding a glass of milk to enhance the protein quality.
  1. Stock your pantry with a variety of canned beans. Black beans and pinto beans make a great addition to any salad, soup, or chili. They also make a great filling for tacos or other ethnic-inspired dishes. Just be sure to watch your serving size, as a ½ cup of black beans is about 350 calories on average.
  1. Vary your mealtime routine with eggs. In other words, eggs aren’t just for breakfast! Consider preparing and refrigerating hard boiled eggs to eat as a snack or chop in a salad for lunch. An egg, cheese, and veggie scramble takes about 10 minutes to cook and makes a filling, protein-packed dinner option for any busy weeknight. 5 Not-So-Sneaky Ways to Get More Protein into Your Day
  1. Top your favorite veggie-packed meals with shredded cheese. If beans, legumes, or whole grains are the star of your meal, consider finishing off your meal with a ½ cup of reduced-fat shredded cheese. This trick works great when topping casseroles, soups, stews, pizzas, and salads. By adding an extra ounce or two of cheese, you are ensuring that high-quality protein AND great taste accompanies your meal. Chances are you’ll feel more satisfied once you are done eating too!
  1. Keep packaged protein-rich snacks on hand for convenience. This includes, prepackaged and portioned out nuts, seeds, yogurt, and cheese. I find that prepackaged snacks help prevent overeating and curb overindulging in calories. Just remember, with nuts and seeds [like beans and other legumes], a small serving goes a long way calorie-wise. If you’re looking to get more calorie-bang for your nutrition-buck, consider snacking on cheese sticks and yogurt cups for a protein-rich snack.

From weight loss, to weight management and muscle strength, the amount and type of protein matters. As you search for the best way to improve your health and satisfy your appetite, simply re-think protein’s place on your plate and in your diet.



Preparing for the Next 100 Years

My family members began farming in Alto, Michigan over 100 years ago when my great-grandfather purchased the land my family still farms today. What drew him here was a beautiful creek that runs through the land.

In 1915 many thought it was best to allow animals access to natural bodies of water. Now, 100 years later, we know that in order to protect the creek for our children, their children and their children’s children, it’s best to limit the animals’ access to natural bodies of water. Instead, we provide fresh water to the cows in the barn, where it’s easily accessible all year long.

Being proactive is really important to us, so we took steps to become verified through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) to document the steps we take every day to protect the environment.

Through the MAEAP verification process we also learned the barn where we raised our heifers, or young cows, was not in a good location. It was too close to a steep hill, increasing the potential for runoff to enter the waterway during a torrential downpour. We moved the animals away from the hill and creek, and built a new, modern barn to help us continue caring for our animals, land and water.

My husband is an avid fisherman and spends lots of time in that creek. In fact, last Mother’s Day he made a trout dinner with fish he caught in the creek. And, on opening day of trout season last year, I caught a beautiful trout – the largest catch of the season!

In 1915, Great-Grandpa thought the best spot for our cattle was as close as to the water as possible. Now, 100 years later, we know different, and we’ve taken every precaution possible to protect that water. We want it to be here for another 100 years!

Preparing for the next 100 years | Milk Means More blog

Annie Link is the HR and PR manager for SwissLane Dairy Farms, her family’s fifth-generation dairy farm. She is passionate about educating people about agriculture and connecting them with their food, and she has a special interest in teaching others about the importance of technology on modern farms. Annie is active on Twitter and Facebook where she shares stories about life on the farm. She is also an avid runner who completed the Boston Marathon in 2011. Annie and her husband are raising three wonderful children.

Top 4 Nutrition Tips When Training for a Marathon

As we begin the competitive season for recreational distance runners, they are busy buying new shoes, registering for races and creating training plans. If this is you, don’t forget the importance of nutrition to bring success both during training and on race day. Here are the top four things you should do to fuel yourself to your next PR.

Top 4 Nutrition Tips When Training for a Marathon1. Prepare: Eat before you run

If you are running for longer than 45-60 minutes, you need to eat something before you run. This pre -workout snack should provide carbohydrate to fuel exercising muscles as well as protein to slow down the absorption of the carbohydrate and protect muscle from too much breakdown. Carbohydrate comes from food such as whole grains, fruit and dairy and is the body’s main source of energy during exercise. If you are worried you will not tolerate food, start with carbohydrate only and add small amounts of protein over time. About 60-90 minutes before your next training run, try the following:

  • Glass of nonfat milk + a banana
  • Toast + nut butter + an apple
  • Scrambled eggs + whole wheat bagel
  • Oatmeal made with nonfat milk + fresh berries

2. Recover: Eat after you run

Eat something within the first 60 minutes or so post-run to help replenish the used carbohydrate as well as assist with muscle clean-up and recovery. This may be a snack or a meal, depending on what time of day you run. Try one of the following:

  • Snack: Glass of low-fat chocolate milk
  • Snack: Trail mix of nuts and dried fruit
  • Meal: Smoothie made with Greek yogurt, fruit and chia seeds + a bowl of whole grain cereal with low-fat milk
  • Meal: Grilled chicken + a slice of cheese rolled into a whole wheat tortilla + a side salad topped with an oil-based dressing

3. Protect: Eat during your run

If you will be running longer than 90 minutes, you need to incorporate fuel during your run, starting at around 45 minutes in. Focus on carbohydrate-rich foods because carbohydrate is your muscle’s main source of fuel during exercise. Try a gel, gu or sports drink if you prefer products or raisins, fig bars or pretzels if you prefer food. Aim for around 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of running.

4. Rehydrate: Increase your intake of fluids

Runners tend to be chronically dehydrated. As you increase your mileage, realize that your overall hydration needs increase too. Train your stomach to tolerate more fluid during running by slowly increasing your fluid intake over time on those long runs. But don’t forget about fluids outside of training too. Aside from plain water, flavored waters, coffee, tea and a cold glass of milk all make great hydration beverages!  Remember that chocolate milk is a great option for after runs too.

Preparing for a running race takes time and effort. Improve your preparation, performance and recovery by following the four nutrition tips above.


Top 4 Nutrition Tips When Training for a MarathonKate Davis MS, RD, CSSD, LDN is a registered dietitian who is board-certified as a specialist in sports nutrition. She works with athletes and athletic teams both in-person in Naperville, IL and via video chat across the United States. Kate has previously consulted with middle school, high school, NCAA Division I, II & III, Olympic, NFL and NBA athletes. Her favorite past work experience was as a sports dietitian for Michigan State University. She has been quoted in several media outlets such as Chicago Athlete, Competitive Runner and Runner’s World magazines and also writes for Freeplay Magazine and the USA Triathlon blog. Kate enjoys competing in running and triathlon as well as indoor soccer and recreational snowboarding. Visit her website at, where you can also navigate to her weekly blog and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.

Should Children Drink Chocolate Milk?

The answer is yes! Contrary to misperceptions that flavored milk, like chocolate milk, is not a healthy choice for children because of its added sugar, the science shows that consuming flavored milk not only can confer health benefits, but eliminating children’s access to flavored milk may do more harm than good.

Should Children Drink Chocolate Milk?

Flavored milk’s sugar content. Flavored milk contains the same nutrients as white milk, yet contributes only a minor amount of added sugar to children’s diets. Soft drinks and non-carbonated sweetened beverages contribute 40% (~7.5 tsp) of the added sugars to the diets of children ages two to 18, whereas flavored milk contributes only about 4% (~0.8 tsp) of added sugars. Since 2007, the added sugar content of flavored milk served in U.S. schools has decreased by about 55%. Children have been shown to readily accept flavored milk with lower sugar and fat content.

While reducing intake of added sugars is encouraged, it is recognized that there is room in the diet to include limited amounts of added sugars to improve the taste and palatability of some nutrient-dense foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in a recent policy statement, identifies flavored milk as “… a good example of the balance needed to limit added sugars and yet promote nutrient-rich foods.”  The AAP adds “Sugars consumed in nutrient-poor foods and beverages [sugary soft drinks, candy] are the primary problem to be addressed, not simply the sugars themselves.”

What the Science Says. To help dispel myths related to flavored milk, a recent review critically examined 53 published studies on flavored milk’s role in children’s health. The author concludes, “… flavored milk consumption is not associated with higher added sugar intake and flavored milk remains a low-cost, palatable beverage choice to help close the gap between calcium needs and intake, especially among older children who are not meeting the recommended calcium requirements during a time of critical bone mass development.”

Below are some additional findings from this review:

  • Chocolate milk is especially popular among children. When offered a choice at school, children drink more chocolate milk than white milk and consume more milk overall, with less milk waste. This finding is important considering children’s average intake of dairy is below recommendations. Even skipping just one serving of milk a day can put kids at a nutritional disadvantage since many of the essential nutrients milk provides are difficult to replace.
  • Flavored milk can help meet children’s nutrient needs. Flavored milk is a nutrient-dense beverage providing nine essential nutrients important for good health, including three nutrients (calcium, vitamin D, and potassium) often low in children’s diets.
  • For children who do not like white milk, flavored milk offers a tasty, beneficial alternative to help meet recommended intakes of dairy, provide the health benefits of milk and milk products, and possibly replace less healthful beverages in the diet.
  • Consumption of flavored milk has not been proven to cause children to become overweight.
  • The majority of studies report no association between flavored milk consumption and tooth decay.

 Bottom line. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, while recommending consumption of less than 10% of calories from added sugars per day, points out that you can cut down on added sugars and still enjoy the foods and beverages you love. Consuming flavored milk, like chocolate milk, which is a nutrient-dense beverage, can help children improve their diet quality and meet recommended daily servings of dairy –  3 cups per day of fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products for those age nine years and older and 2 1/2 cups per day for children four to eight years.

Meet Michigan Dairy Farmer Kristi Keilen

As a fourth-generation dairy farm family, we truly love what we do. Every day, I work with my family to care for our 450 milking cows. In addition to caring for our cows, we spend a lot of time caring for our land where we grow the food that feeds our animals. We farm around 1,900 acres of corn, soybeans alfalfa, wheat and sorghum. Most of the crops grown on our land are fed to our cows, providing the nutrition they need to produce high-quality milk.

Michigan dairy farmer Kristi Keilen

I love farming because I love being able to provide food that feeds the world. I also love that I get to share my passion with my family every day by caring for our animals and being good stewards of our land. I look forward to the day we can pass this wonderful opportunity on to the next generation, just like it was passed on to me.

Mindful Eating: Savoring Flavor One Bite at a Time

In this fast-paced world we live in, it’s no surprise that we eat while sitting at the computer, in front of the television or even while driving. These distractions not only affect us enjoying the food we’re consuming, but they also don’t allow our bodies to respond to the food we eat in a healthy way. One important concept being researched more is the focus of mindfulness or mindful eating.

Mindful eating is a physical and emotional awareness of eating, allowing yourself to savor food one bite at a time, while being mindful of what you’re consuming without distractions. Mindful eating helps you to recognize and respond to satiety and not only help you enjoy the food you’re eating more, but has been shown to improve your health.

Mindful Eating

Eating in a Mindful Way

Allowing yourself to consume a variety of foods without restrictions or distractions can allow you to enjoy the food without guilt or negativity. One main emphasis of mindful eating is focusing on eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re satisfied, not stuffed.

Eating foods from each food group, including a variety of dairy (at least 3 servings per day) is especially helpful when trying to consume a variety of nutritious and satisfying foods. Research shows that high-quality protein, like the protein found in all dairy products, helps aid in satiety which can help you consume less calories overall.

In addition, having nutritious food readily available and eating 3-5 times per day can help minimize overeating while ensuring adequate nutrients and energy are still consumed. Snacks such as yogurt and fruit or cheese and whole grain crackers are excellent healthy choices to eat between meals to satisfy your hunger.

Mindful Eating Benefits

  • Research has shown mindful eating has positive effect on weight reduction, chronic pain, cancer, stress, depression and quality of life.
  • Mindful eating has shown to have positive effects on food choices and glycemic control for type 2 diabetes patients.
  • Studies have shown that mindful eating strategies may help treat eating disorders such as binge eating disorder. Mindful-eating-based therapy was put into action with a group of 150 binge eaters and after treatment the participants showed a reduction in binging and depression; participants also displayed more control over their eating.

Mindful Eating Exercises

  1. Hunger Scale: Record your meals and snacks for a few days and use a hunger scale with a range from 0 to 10 (0 being the most hungry and 10 being the least hungry). First, ask yourself what does 0 feel like when you’re the most hungry? Then ask yourself what does 10 feel like? Before, during and after each snack and meal, stop and ask yourself what number you are and how you feel about it. This strategy not only allows you stop and think during eating, it also brings awareness to your level of hunger which you may have been unaware of before.
  2. Eat one piece of food mindfully: Take a piece of fruit or cheese and inspect the food, pay attention to the texture, aroma and appearance. Place the food in your mouth and wait 30 seconds noticing the flavor and texture, then finish eating the food and focus on how it tastes. Compare this to how you normally eat.

Using some of these mindful eating techniques and taking the time to savor each bite can not only help you enjoy eating more but also can positively affect your health.

Moo-ving School Breakfast Participation with Dairy Foods

Great things are happening in schools at breakfast time! National School Breakfast Week was celebrated March 7-11, 2016, as was discussed in a previous blog post. Many schools all over Michigan and the United States held special promotions in their schools.

Breakfast is important to get your body fueled to learn.  Less than half of the students who eat school lunch in Michigan eat breakfast at school.  Food service directors encourage students to eat breakfast at school in many creative ways.

“We are always promoting breakfast at our school,” said Kay Walters from Lawton Community Schools. They have breakfast available at their school until lunch is served, so kids are able to get food if they didn’t at home, even if they are late.  They had an Oatmeal Mix-in Day during National School Breakfast Week. It included a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit, granola and yogurt for the students to choose from and mix in.  “It is wildly popular,” said Walters. “About a third of the kids that eat breakfast on that day choose to eat the oatmeal.”

Wayland Union banana split parfaitWayland Union Schools also offered a special menu during National School Breakfast Week: a Banana Split Yogurt Bar. They used strawberry and vanilla yogurt and gave students topping options such as: graham crackers, 100 calorie snack packs, rice square cereal, homemade granola, fresh strawberries, fresh blueberries and mandarin oranges. Sarah Hawkins, Wayland Union’s director of dining services, said, “The students were so excited to have a ‘banana split’ for breakfast and the best part was the fact that it was healthy wasn’t lost on them. So many told me that it was the most delicious healthy breakfast they’ve ever had!”

Another menu promotion Wayland Union ran was free hot chocolate with breakfast. They heated fat-free chocolate milk and served it as hot chocolate. Hawkins reports their breakfast counts increased by 35% at Baker Elementary School and continued that way for the week. Overall their district saw a 23% increase in breakfast participation during National School Breakfast Week!

Imlay City Weston Kitchen StaffAn event or activity is another popular way to create excitement over school breakfast. Roxanne Pierce, food service director at Imlay City borrowed a cow costume from the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM). “We had our ‘cow’ greet students first thing in the morning as they were arriving on the busses at Weston Elementary School,” said Pierce. “The students were so excited and our breakfast participation went up by 50 students!!” The cow visited their other school buildings, too. “Our high school students are allowed their cell phones during the day, so she was the subject of quite a few selfies,” said Pierce.

Giveaways and prize drawings are popular ways to generate interest in school meals. For National School Breakfast Week, UDIM provided school districts with over 180,000 stickers that schools gave to students who ate breakfast and participated in activities.

Coopersville Area Public Schools also held special events to promote breakfast. At the elementary school buildings, parents were invited to school through an email for the breakfast fruit yogurt parfait. Melissa Alley, food service director at Coopersville Schools had materials about school meals program available for parents that attended.Coopersville Breakfast Parfait Bar

The result of inviting parents was an increased awareness of the breakfast program, and more students ate breakfast. “We saw 10 more kids per building eating breakfast,” said Alley, “and it has continued after the promotional week.” “Some parents didn’t even realize we served breakfast,” she said. Students also enjoyed doing breakfast activity sheets for prizes.

At Coopersville High School, Chef Edriese, Chartwells’ corporate chef, came in at lunch and showcased the options available at breakfast time.  “It was a huge success,” said Alley. “We had samples of breakfast sandwiches we already serve each day, and some students had no clue they were available. We also tested a breakfast burrito bar,” Alley continued. “They loved it and we will be adding it to the menu.”

Lakeview School District held their special event in the virtual world of social media. Sherry Palmer, food service secretary at Lakeview helped manage a Twitter contest for middle and high school students.  They were asked to tweet pictures of their breakfast for a weekly prize using #lmsbreakfastrocks. There was an increase of over 675 breakfasts district wide. It was so popular they had to continue it for the whole month of March, instead of just National School Breakfast Week. “I post a lot to our Food Service Facebook page,” said Palmer, “but this was my first venture on Twitter.”

Featuring special yogurt bars and taking advantage of resources UDIM makes available are great ways to promote school breakfast. There are successful examples all over the state of how to get more students to eat breakfast at school.