Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as limited or uncertain access to adequate food at the household level. Based on 2018 figures, an estimated 37 million Americans, including 11 million children, experience food insecurity in the United States. This number is shocking when compared with the food waste that takes place yearly. It is estimated that the United States wastes 30-40% percent of the food supply, which is not only a social and humanitarian concern, but also a far-reaching environmental issue.
Wasted food is the single largest category of material placed in landfills, which contribute 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Food decomposing in landfills emits methane. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions in the United States. When food is wasted, we are not only losing wholesome food that could have helped families in need, we are also wasting energy and resources invested (land, water, labor) at every level of the supply chain: producing, processing, transporting, preparing, and storing.
Dairy cows and other livestock play an important role in reducing food waste from various industries by eating parts of plants that humans cannot digest. Byproducts like nut hulls and citrus pulp would normally be discarded, but cows use it for energy to produce nutritious milk, literally recycling food back into our supermarkets! Another way to prevent food waste is through food banks. Food banks work closely with partner agencies to recover excess food from various organizations, including grocery manufacturers, retailers and producers, helping to save food from landfills and putting it onto the tables of families in need.
We can all do our part in reducing food waste. Be a part of the solution and check out these tips on reducing food waste in the kitchen. Additionally, try our recipes for delicious ways to use the food you may already have in your fridge and pantry.
Stuck at home? Milk it for all it’s worth! Keep your family entertained with virtual learning experiences.
Whether you’re a teacher navigating an online classroom, or a parent suddenly tasked with homeschooling, check out these fun and educational ideas to help kids of all ages learn about dairy farms and the important role dairy foods play in their diet.
While you may not be able to go out and visit a dairy farm in person, you can visit one from the comfort of your couch! Learn more about your local farmers, their cows, and the goodness of milk.
VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS
Make and Taste
Did you know milk is packed full of 9 essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein? You can still enjoy real milk if you are lactose intolerant and won’t find the same nutrition in milk impersonators. Take some time to try these fun recipes and rest assured you are nourishing your family with real dairy.
After the family enjoys delicious dairy treats together, you can moo-ve on to discovering fun ways for repurposing used milk cartons with these cool craft ideas. Most of these projects can be completed at little to no cost, and only require supplies you probably already have on hand!
Check out more educational and entertaining resources in the Dairy in Schools section of The Dairy Alliance website.
As the holiday festivities quickly turn into New Year celebrations, be sure to remember those guests at parties who, for one reason or another, forego traditional cocktails and seasonal spirits. Give your friends and family a non-alcoholic beverage option that is fun, exciting, and even nutritious!
Holiday Milk Punch will make everyone merry and bright. Made with chai tea, the subtle boost of caffeine will put some extra pep in their step to keep them going until the midnight ball drop. Folks will feel festive from the seasonal spices, all while benefitting from the 9 essential nutrients found in real milk. I’ll drink to that!
This Peppermint Milkshake will serve as a delicious treat and a fun activity for the kids. They will have a blast decorating their cups with melted chocolate and peppermint candies before enjoying this creamy, dessert-like drink. Top it off with real whipped cream to make it extra decadent.
If you are looking for a more traditional holiday drink, try Homemade Eggnog using real milk and cream. With just the right amount of sweetness, your guests will find comfort in this familiar treat. As a time and stress saver for the party host, this beverage could also be enjoyed as an adult libation by adding a choice of brandy, bourbon or rum. Be sure to clearly label each batch!
When planning your holiday shindig, take stock of your guests and their preferences. There are a variety of fun refreshments for everyone to enjoy, and you might even send your guests home with a new favorite. Cheers!
Fall is in full swing, and you know what that means: pumpkin everything! This popular flavor is making its way into everything from coffee to candles earlier and earlier each fall season. What is it about this fruit that we love so much? How did it carve its own slice into our Thanksgiving traditions?
Currently, the average food bank recipient receives less than one gallon of milk per year. However, to meet the recommended three servings of milk each day, they need more than 1 gallon per week. Milk is naturally nutrient-rich, containing nine essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein per serving and three of the four nutrients missing in the diet of most Americans– calcium, vitamin D and potassium.
Nutrition-related illnesses are more prevalent in food insecure households. One third of households utilizing food banks has a family member living with diabetes and 58% of food bank clients report high blood pressure. Research shows three servings of milk each day can help maintain healthy blood pressure and reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. According to Feeding America, 79% of food insecure households report purchasing cheaper, unhealthy food to provide enough to eat for their families. Milk, yogurt and cheese are affordable sources of high-quality protein. In fact, each serving of milk only costs about a quarter.
Food banks are beginning to address the dairy deficiency at their facilities, which has led to the launch of a program called Milk2MyPlate. This program is working to bring food banks and milk suppliers together with a common goal to provide a consistent supply of fresh milk to those who need it most. September 7th is National Food Bank Day, and you can show your support by taking the #10GallonChallenge! Donate 10 gallons of milk to a local food bank near you, and together we can help end hunger.
Visit thedairyalliance.com for more information about dairy farming, recipes, and more!
A collection of stories related to my work as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with The Dairy Alliance. Views are my own.