From Farm to School, Table, and Fridge

Carl Chaney

Dairy Farmer, Carl Chaney with SUDIA staff members Alan Curtsinger and Melinda Turner.

School nutrition professionals from across Kentucky gathered in September in Bowling Green for the annual Kentucky School Nutrition Association (KSNA) Administrators’ Summit. Staying with the theme, “Keeping on Track,” local dairy farmer Carl Chaney presented, “Understanding Agriculture 101: Leadership in a Changing Food World.”

While many Kentucky schools are familiar with farm-to-school/farm-to-table trends and include Kentucky Proud™ fruits and veggies on their menus, many are unfamiliar with the role dairy farm families play in rounding out healthy school meals with nutritious beverages. Chaney gave the audience new appreciation of dairy farming with vivid descriptions of what it takes to make half pints of milk available for each lunch tray, every single school day. However, the real story was felt and seen by a group of 34 school nutrition professionals who participated in a dairy farm tour the day before.

School nutrition professionals were able to witness best farming practices first hand, observing cow comfort innovations and feeding and milking in a dairy barn outfitted with the latest equipment. Many were impressed by the extent to which farmers go to keep their cows comfortable, safe and well.

Julie Metcalf, school nutrition director for Montgomery County (Kentucky) Schools, said it best: “This has been a fabulous learning experience. It makes me want to go back to work on Monday and encourage every student to drink milk at every meal.”

Click here for additional information on how you can host a dairy farmer at your school or business or arrange a tour of a local dairy farm.

The “Understanding Agriculture 101” presentation covers topics such as current food trends, food waste, school nutrition, farm operations, and current farm innovations. To arrange a presentation at an upcoming meeting or training event, contact your local Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc. (SUDIA) representative.

Farm to Table Activities

Teaching students where their food comes from is fundamental in the development of healthy eating habits. SUDIA is pleased to offer free standards-based teaching materials to engage your students and help them explore the connections between good nutrition and sustainable local farming.

Check out our free school resources.