Meet Molly McKendry of the New England Dairy & Food Council

We love learning more about like-minded individuals and organizations whose missions are similar to ours. So we were excited to interview Molly McKendry, a registered dietitian and manager of nutrition communications for New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC). 

Read on to learn fun facts about Molly, what the NEDFC is, and how ChopChop Family and the NEDFC share a similar vision. 

If you were a vegetable or fruit, what would you be and why?
“I would probably be a cucumber because that was my favorite snack to have before dinner as a kid. My mother would put sliced cucumbers on a plate and sprinkle them with red wine vinegar and salt. It’s so simple but so good!”

What is always in your fridge or pantry?
“Cheese and crackers! I’m a big fan of having it during the day as a snack or as I’m preparing dinner if I’m really hungry and can’t wait. A little bit of cheese goes a long way when it comes to satisfying a growling stomach. A block of cheddar is almost always in my fridge.” 

Why is cooking so important?
“Cooking is important because we must eat every day, multiple times a day, and what we put in our bodies, as well as how, makes a difference to our health and wellbeing. Beyond nutrition, cooking is also an opportunity to connect with others in the kitchen or during a meal. It provides an opportunity to learn about where our food comes from and the many ways it can be enjoyed. When we cook food, we also learn to appreciate the time, energy, and resources that went into a meal. I think cooking is a very mindful activity, one that brings many people together.”

Do you have any advice for anyone just learning to cook and who may be nervous?
“Be patient with yourself and keep trying. Cook with different people to learn new techniques and tips. Something my parents helped me to understand was that although it may be tempting to eyeball measurements and amounts, when you’re learning to cook, following a recipe will provide you with a guide as to how something should taste. After you become more comfortable in the kitchen, then you can start to experiment with different flavors or variations, and when you do, you might be pleasantly surprised!”

How do you feel ChopChop Family aligns with NEDFC's outlook, mission, and goals?
“NEDFC and ChopChop Family both believe it’s important for children and adolescents to play a role in what they are eating, whether that’s at home or in school. We both strive to empower youth to include nutritious foods, like dairy for example, on their plates or in their glasses because beyond the health benefits, they add great flavor and enjoyment to mealtime. 

Tell us a bit about NEDFC. What kind of organization is it and what is its mission?
“We’re a non-profit nutrition education organization based in Boston. Our organization’s mission is to champion New England Dairy farm families and the nutritious foods they produce. In 2020, we will celebrate 100 years of working on behalf of farmers to tell dairy’s positive story. We work across New England to provide health professionals, child nutrition experts, and educators with a credible body of dairy nutrition information upon which to educate or base health recommendations and school programs. Additionally, we serve as a resource and provide education to the media and public on dairy nutrition, farming, and its role in a sustainable food system. At present, two-thirds of our staff are registered dietitians and the other third are marketing and communication specialists.” 

What would you like to tell our readers about the importance of dairy?
“Something many people don’t realize is that, more often than not, milk sold at the grocery store is a local product, making it a sustainable option. In addition to being local, milk, cheese, and yogurt are affordable, convenient, and delicious options that provide a unique nutrient package that is hard to replace. In fact, milk is the number one food source of three nutrients most children and adults in the U.S. do not get enough of: calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.”

What do you love about ChopChop Family?
“The dedication to bringing families together over nutritious foods! In my own family, food is a central part of our gatherings and celebrations. But even a weeknight dinner around the table was valuable time spent together. I love that ChopChop Family offers opportunities and provides resources to families so that they can spend time cooking together and enjoying delicious, wholesome meals.”

Molly is a registered dietitian and Manager of Nutrition Communications for New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC). Her areas of work include digital health and wellness communications, PR for in-school youth wellness programming, and sustainable nutrition education. In her free time, Molly likes to run, read, garden, and spend time with friends and family.