Blog post written by University of Northern Colorado’s Distance Program dietetic intern Taylor Nonnenmacher.
Did you know that dairy has been a continued staple in the 45-year-old nutrition assistance program, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)? As a former WIC Nutritionist, I worked to promote dairy consumption by educating participants about the benefits included in their food packages, stressing dairy as a part of a balanced diet and crucial element for growing bodies, brains, and bones.
What’s the Big Cheese with Dairy Anyways?
Dairy is nutritious source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin D and calcium, which pregnant and breastfeeding women are recommended more of to support themselves and their baby’s needs. Children are recommended whole milk dairy until age two because the calories from fat are necessary for this period of rapid brain development. After age two, if the child is at a healthy weight, low-fat dairy is sufficient to continue supporting all the incredible full body growth that happens before our eyes! If you want them to stay little forever…maybe dairy is not your friend…just kidding! We all want our families to grow healthy, strong, and hit those precious milestones. Luckily, milk, yogurt, and cheese are three great vehicles to get us there.
Why is WIC So Important?
WIC supports communities’ health, well-being, and economic growth. The WIC program contributes to leveling the playing field for universal access to affordable, nutritious foods, aiming to leave no community at a disadvantage in the regional food system. WIC also supports local economies by granting more people the ability to shop for healthy, local produce at their neighborhood stores. For example, store brand milk is produced regionally, and the average WIC package is granting families access to up to five gallons a month. That’s a lot of extra milk to help support families in need while also supporting local economies. Read some creative recipes below to find ways to use it all up!
Tips and Recipes
I loved working with participants to maximize their resources and nutrition! When asked by families for creative ways to use up perishable foods like dairy, I’d sometimes recommend:
- Freezing milk or yogurt in ice cube trays for iced coffee / to blend with smoothies
- Dinner Idea: Making Mac N Cheese with milk/yogurt for a creamier taste!
- Skipping the juice and blending milk and yogurt with fruit for a creamy smoothie
- Soaking oats overnight in milk for some morning bliss -saves time too!
- Thawing frozen fish in milk for a fresh taste
- This fun info graphic of Two Yogurt Dip Recipes!