PRIMARY school students are being asked to celebrate World Milk Day by showing off their artistic sides.
Popular education program Picasso Cows has been given a new look and revamped digital program, allowing it to reach more schools and educate more students about the $13 billion Australian dairy industry.
Dairy Australia's schools program manager Vanessa Forrest said the United Nations had declared 1 June as World Milk Day, recognising dairy's contribution to the well-being of children and adults across the globe, as well as sustaining regional communities.
"It's critical children know milk is rich in protein and calcium, and essential to growing strong bones and healthy muscles, and World Milk Day is a timely reminder to teach kids about milk's importance," she said.
"DA does this though school programs that develop a greater understanding of where food comes from and the health benefits it delivers for growing bodies."
Since it was launched in 2007, Picasso Cows has reached more than 1000 Australian primary schools and DA is aiming to roll out the program to an extra 170 schools a year.
The redeveloped program is being introduced into 250 school annually, in consultation with teachers and education consultants, and includes online tools and resources that are part of the curriculum units, Farm to Plate and Health and Nutrition.
Ms Forrest said the program books out every year, so it was good to be able to meet the demand, with a redeveloped program that delivered cost savings, allowing more schools to join the program.
"Each school gets its very own life-like cow to paint and decorate as they wish and the art created is truly amazing," she said.
DA dietitian Glenys Zucco said World Milk Day was a great way to do something healthy for yourself and celebrate the natural goodness of 'real' milk, while also supporting Australia's dairyfarmers.
"The Picasso Cows program teaches students the importance of the health benefits of dairy at a young age, to help ensure they eat a nutritionally balanced diet," Ms Zucco said.
Ms Forrest said with many children increasingly growing up in urban areas, unfortunately they often did not know where their food came from and Picasso Cows was a great opportunity to educate the next generation.
Also marking World Milk Day is a campaign calling on everyone who loves dairy to share their favourite milk memory on social media for a chance to win a year's supply of milk.
Celebrity chef, restaurateur, and farmer, Matt Moran, is supporting the campaign in celebration of Australian dairyfarmers.
"With the dry conditions and high costs of feed and water being experience by many dairy farmers, it's now more important than ever for consumers to get behind dairy," he said.
Ms Zucco said the social media campaign, 'What do you cheers to?' complemented this year's World Milk Day theme: Enjoy Dairy.
"The health benefits of having the recommended daily serves of dairy are well established," she said.
Dairy foods are one of the five recommended food groups according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines and research supports the role of dairy as an important part of a balanced diet.
All types of milk, cheese and yoghurt are associated with numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension and type 2 diabetes.
Ms Zucco said the beauty of cow's milk was it had one simple ingredient - milk, with a range of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.
"In addition to calcium for strong bones, milk naturally is a rich source of essential nutrients, including protein for healthy muscles, iodine, B vitamins and phosphorus," she said.
"Generally, plant-based milk alternatives are lower in protein and while calcium is sometimes added in, evidence suggests it's not as absorbable as the calcium found naturally in cow's milk."
To win a year's supply of milk, post a photo showing how you have your milk on your Facebook or Instagram, with the hashtags #cheerstomilk #enjoydairy.
- Details: dairy.com.au/cheerstomilk or www.facebook.com/AustralianDairy