By Brad Bowman
New Castle Elementary students armed with enthusiasm and milk mustaches learned about the benefits of milk and the dairy farmers who produce it.
On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the school celebrated and hosted the 14th anniversary World School Milk Day. Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, school and local government officials attended the event, which included a meet-and-greet with a couple local dairy farmer Curtis Coombs’s Holsteins.
“It is important for kids to get a balanced diet as they get older by drinking milk. It’s good for them to know where their food comes from,” Coombs said. “I think they may trust their food knowing it doesn’t just come from a factory and off of a shelf, but they can also put a face to the product and know it comes from someone who cares and makes an effort for it to be a good product.”
Coombs brought a large cow that had been milked that morning and a calf for students to pet and meet up close. Curiosity, kept the students engaged and enthused. Kathy Blecher, senior manager of school health and wellness at Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, passed out milk mustache stickers to students and attendees for the celebration.
“We promote milk in the schools because it does do a body good. It has nine different vitamins, minerals and protein that help kids be healthy and we want that to be their beverage of choice,” Belcher said. “At school it’s offered with every meal, but they don’t have to take it. We want to encourage them to drink milk. World School Milk Day is an opportunity to help them understand where milk comes from, appreciate those dairy farmers that take care of those cows they provide great care and wholesome milk that ends up in a milk carton at school.”
According to the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, families own and operate most of the 900 dairy farms located in Kentucky and produce 130 million gallons of milk annually. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Commodities and Trade Division of the United Nations promote World School Milk Day in 40 countries.
The Food and Agriculture Organization hopes the celebration will draw attention to school nutrition and milk’s nutrients like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12. Southeast United Dairy Industry Association stated in a press release that students who drink milk are more likely to meet their daily nutrient needs and don’t consume more sugar, fat or calories.
Larry Garriott of Henry County works for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in the commodity division to get milk in public schools. Garriott said World School Milk Day helps educate students.
“It’s important because a lot of kids don’t know the benefits of milk. This sheds a lot of light on what is all in milk to provide for healthy strong bodies,” Garriott said.
Sidney Rothenburger, School Nutrition Director for the Henry County Public School District, emphasized nutrition is always a concern.
“We need kids to understand why we make the milk choices that we do,” Rothenburger said. “We are working for them to have lower fat and lower calories and still have a good product.”
The entire 360 student body participated in the World School Milk Day celebration. New Castle Elementary Principal Eric Davis hoped the event would showcase both health and home.
“Being in a rural district, I think it’s important for students to know how a lot of people make their money around here and farming is important to this community,” Davis said. “I want to make sure we pass this on to the younger generation.”
For more information about World School Milk Day visit: www.southeastdairy.org or foa.org.