The National Dairy Council’s (NDC) flagship partnership with the NFL, Fuel Up to Play 60, recently kicked off its tenth year of activities with the start of the new school year. The anniversary was celebrated at an NFL season launch event on September 4.
Together, the two organizations use Fuel Up to Play 60 to encourage healthy food choices, especially dairy, and physical activity to students across the country. Since 2009, over 73,000 schools have enrolled in the program. Fourteen million students have learned ways to eat healthier and include more milk, cheese, and yogurt in their diet.
How it works
When schools sign up for the program, they can get credit (points) for creating and implementing initiatives to help students recognize the value in a healthy life. There are also ideas, called plays, available to get students and staff headed in the right direction. Guidelines are provided for projects from surveying the school cafeteria and adding options like a smoothie station to visiting a dairy farm and incorporating more local food items into the menu.
Each play has steps that teachers, administration, and students can be a part of.
Beyond the challenges, events, and activities, schools are eligible to apply for funding for supplies that will invigorate healthy activities among their students. In addition to the open-ended grants, funds are available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help schools purchase additional kitchen supplies for preparing nutritional meals. In each of its 32 markets across the country, the NFL allocates $10,000 to help provide schools with tools for improved healthy eating and physical education programs.
NDC has created curriculum for teachers to use with many of the suggested plays. One lesson even features a virtual farm tour if the class can’t get to a dairy in person. Students see how cows live, eat, and are milked on a robotic dairy and gain an appreciation for the work that goes into their healthy meals.
Fuel Up to Play 60 estimates that the program has the potential to reach 38 million students through their schools. Each student can log the activities they participate in on their online dashboard to receive points and enter for prize giveaways.
Not only do kids benefit from eating healthier and being more active, the program provides opportunities for them to take leadership in their community through each project or even being an ambassador. Ambassadors serve as point people within the school and can attend the program conference to develop new ideas.
Fuel Up to Play 60 has been able to make a difference in the lives of millions of students over the past 10 years largely in thanks to checkoff dollars from dairy farmers across the country. With that support, the program improves schools while building up children to be healthier citizens as well as dairy consumers.
Find a Fuel Up to Play 60 school in your community to see how you can get involved in the mission.