Family eating lunch with milk

Jenn and Len Jocson were used to their nine-year-old son Josiah’s picky eating habits. Chicken and pizza were the norm. When Josiah went back to school in the fall, they were quite surprised when he suddenly asked for foods from all five food groups.

“Josiah has always been a really picky eater, so we were blown away by the change,” Jenn said (pictured above with her son and husband).

Determined to find out what led to this transformation, Jenn approached Josiah’s teacher at Brywood Elementary in Irvine, Cailf., and found out his class had been going through Dairy Council of California’s Shaping Up My Choices third grade nutrition education program.

“The change is almost miraculous because we’ve never been able to get him to try other foods,” Jenn said.

Shaping Up My Choices, which is a part of Dairy Council’s family of grade-specific nutrition education programs offered free to California teachers, encourages healthy eating behaviors and attitudes in students. Children learn the importance of eating balanced meals with selections from all five food groups, including the recommended number of servings of milk and milk products. Homework assignments are also included to help parents and children work together to improve family eating in the home.

“Josiah had an assignment recently in which we had to sit down and describe what we eat at home, what food groups they were from and what could have been better choices,” Jenn said. “Now he wants to try everything. He ate lasagna the other day because he liked that it had the cheese, meat and grain. He is so aware of what’s going in his body now, he actually told us he didn’t want his Halloween candy because it had too much sugar in it.”

According to Peggy Biltz, Dairy Council of California CEO, the programs aim to empower students and adults to make the best food choices that include milk and milk products.

“We enjoy hearing these stories about students who are making real behavior changes when it comes to their eating habits as a result of our programs,” said Biltz. “Dairy producers and processors have been supporting our nutrition education efforts for decades and Josiah is a great example of the benefit.”

Biltz adds that aside from providing teachers at all grade levels tailored programs for students and for parents, Dairy Council has a host of other resources available for adults.

The Jocsons say they are impressed with how Shaping Up My Choices “makes learning about food and nutrition fun and exciting for students.” They were also surprised — and appreciative—to learn the program is provided free to the school.

“Just seeing the amazing impact it’s had on Josiah, I’m sure it’s making a difference for other kids,” Jenn said. “I know it’s really made us aware that we have to step up our game nutritionally so Josiah can eat healthier, and that’s going to benefit all of us.”

— By the Dairy Council of California