Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dairy’s Role in Schools

We know milk is a critical component of the lunches served to school children. But other dairy foods play an important role in the meals and lessons taking place in our nation’s schools. Here are five programs to read about.
1) Milk Delivers

In case you need to be brought up to speed, click HERE.

2) Greek Yogurt on the Menu

USDA is asking the Greek yogurt industry to come up with a strategy for providing the high-protein yogurt in bulk through the federal school breakfast and lunch programs.
Read more HERE.

3) Cheese and Yogurt Add Appeal to School Salads 

Ready Pac, Irwindale, CA, hosted “Salad Day” at Osage Elementary School in Voorhees County New Jersey on Jan. 23, 2013. The event helped raise awareness of New Jersey’s innovative strides to combat childhood obesity, starting with healthy school meals.

Students from grades one through five were invited to sample Ready Pac Cool Cuts bowl salads, which are among multiple healthy school lunch choices available to students.

“We could not have asked for a better day [and] the kids loved the salads,” says Deborah Zee, director of food services, Voorhees Township Public Schools, who organized the event. “I think if more schools would try a day like we just had they would see how much the students eat and enjoy healthier offerings like salads.”

Ready Pac Cool Cuts salads and mini-meals are designed for elementary and middle school children. The line features five salad items and four mini-meals that include fresh produce and tasty proteins. Some of them include dairy in the form of cheese and yogurt. 

Read more HERE.

New Jersey school foodservice directors have been hard at work to implement the strict federal guidelines for school meals. Their programs, as part of the National School Lunch program, have key requirements including portion sizes that may be challenging to meet. Ready Pac’s fresh meals and snacks for schools help foodservice directors meet the guidelines, are kid-friendly and provide variety.

4) Pastry School Promotes Dairy to its Students

I was fortunate to spend my Thursday morning at The French Pastry School of Chicago learning how critical dairy products are to their programs. The school has maintained an exclusive relationship with Plugra butter for more than 10 years, making Plugra the only fat used in all recipes. The school teaches its students the benefits of formulating with butter, specifically premium European-style Plugra. When these pastry chefs enter the market, they continue to use Plugra, which has been very positive for the brand.

Franco Pacini, director of operations, and I posed with a dress being created out of Plugra wrappers for the school’s upcoming “For the Love of Chocolate Scholarship Foundation Annual Gala.” The dress will be modeled at the event, along with other fashion creations created by the pastry chefs.
For more information on the event, visit HERE.

If you are unfamiliar with Plugra, you can read more HERE.

According to Co-Founder and Academic Dean Chef Sebastien Canonne, the school has been unsuccessful with sourcing aseptically packaged premium cream (35% milkfat), as this product is not produced in the States and cannot be imported because of customs barriers. Aseptic premium cream is a product that pastry chefs around the world desire, as it can be shipped in bulk and stored at ambient temperature with a lengthy shelflife, as compared to fresh product that requires refrigeration and expires quickly. Further, the ultra-high-temperature (UHT) processing that the cream undergoes in order to be aseptically packaged contributes cooked notes to the cream that happen to be highly desirable in pastry applications.

Can anyone help? Please email me at

For more information on The French Pastry School, visit HERE.

5) The Art of Dairy Contest

Safeway Inc.’s exclusive dairy brand, Lucerne, recently selected the nine student finalists competing for a $30,000 grand prize in the Eighth Annual Lucerne The Art of Dairy art contest. The finalists will now transfer their designs onto an unconventional canvas--a life-sized fiberglass cow.
Contest details and the finalists can be viewed HERE.

Beginning April 17, the public will vote for their favorite cow and crown a winning artist in the contest that joins nutrition with artistic talent and ingenuity. In addition, as part of the Teacher Incentive Program, all schools that sent in entries were entered into a second-chance drawing, and one lucky school will win $1,000 for its art department. The entries are being tabulated and the winning school will be announced mid-March.

Since the inception of the Art of Dairy contest in 2005, Lucerne has contributed over $373,000 to schools, teachers and students. This year, over 6,400 entries were received from schools across the country.

Dairy…it makes education better!

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