Dairy farmers from the northeast and across the nation were in the spotlight at the fourth annual GENYOUth Gala that generated nearly $2 million to help create healthier school communities.
GENYOUth is a 501(c)3 whose flagship program Fuel Up to Play 60 was created by National Dairy Council and the National Football League to improve health and wellness in schools across the country. Nationally, the program is in 73,000 schools, reaching more than 38 million students since launching 10 years ago. More than 11,000 schools are active in Fuel Up to Play 60 here in the ADA North East region.
“Our dairy farmers that attended the Gala witnessed first-hand why it’s critical to partner with major sponsors that see the value in what these programs have to offer our youth while in turn supporting the dairy industry,” said ADA North East CEO Rick Naczi. “It was also important for the sponsors to put a face to our farmers and make the connection with where the program starts.”
Dairy farmers were recognized throughout the evening, starting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling dairy farmers “the backbone of America.” Dairy Management Inc., CEO Ton Gallagher asked the 23 dairy farmers in attendance stand to be recognized. The crowd of nearly 430, including 30 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, three NFL team owners and other leaders and influencers, including journalist Katie Couric and famed chef, author and television personality Carla Hall, gave a round of applause for the dairy farmers.
ADA North East farmers who attended were: Tom and Elizabeth Barley of Star Rock Farms, Conestoga, Pa.; Patty Bikowsky of Sweet Meadows Farm, Madison, N.Y.; Kris Brock of Unc Brock Inc., Schaghticoke, N.Y.; Audrey and Jeff Donohoe of Atrass Farm, Clayville, N.Y.; Barb Hanselman of Del-Rose Farm, Bloomville, N.Y.; Jennifer Heltzel of Piney Mar Farm, Martinsburg, Pa.; and Marilyn Hershey of Ar-Joy Farms, Cochranville, Pa.
“The Gala once again showed how much we all have in common when it comes to driving health and wellness priorities in schools,” said Marilyn Hershey. “The opportunity for farmers and major business leaders and influencers to network and align on our shared values is critical to our continued success, and we’re thankful to GENYOUth for making it happen.”
Tom Barley commented on the experience he and wife Elizabeth had at the Gala. “It was great to see the support for dairy farmers from someone like Roger Goodell and to meet other very influential people and talk about what we do.” He also talked with Armando Teddei, Deputy Executive Director of New York City Department of Education Office of Food and Nutrition Services, saying, “it was great to hear he is a big proponent of dairy in the diet.”
Barb Hanselman added, “I was so invigorated by the evening – knowing that all the guests are very invested in getting good nutrition that includes milk and dairy to youth, giving them access to exercise, and partnering them with mentors that encourage and inspire them.”
The funds will provide schools with grab-and-go breakfast carts where each meal includes servings of milk/dairy, to help tackle food insecurity in high-need school communities. Grab-and go carts are a proven solution in overcoming barriers, including stigma associated with breakfast in the cafeteria and bussing schedules, by moving breakfast outside of the cafeteria where students can literally “grab and go.”
Thanks to GENYOUth grants, 16 breakfast carts have been placed in our territory since 2017, including six in New York, six in New Jersey and four in Pennsylvania. Nationally, 360 carts have been placed in schools, and each cart can serve up to 550 breakfasts per day. Nearly three million additional students participate in school breakfast programs since 2010.
“Hearing testimony at the Gala from former Minnesota Vikings player Cris Carter about the importance of school meals that included milk played in the role of his development, validates what our programs are doing to benefit our young people,” said Naczi.
Themed “Rise by Lifting Others,” the event was made possible through generous commitment of corporate partners Corteva Agriscience, UnitedHealthCare, Alight Soluntions and TDAmeritrade.
The organization’s top award, the Vanguard Award, was presented to Kevin Warren, Commissioner-Elect of the Big Ten Conference and former Chief Operations Officer for the Minnesota Vikings.
About American Dairy Association North East
American Dairy Association North East (ADA North East) is the dairy farmer-funded organization funded by participating dairy farmer’s checkoff investment to build demand and sales for milk and dairy foods throughout the local region. Representing nearly 11,000 dairy farm families in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and northern Virginia, ADA North East develops and implements local programs to drive milk and dairy sales at retail outlets and in schools. The organization also conducts consumer education about dairy through events, traditional and social media, and in collaboration with health professionals through National Dairy Council®. ADA North East works closely with Dairy Management Inc.™, the national dairy checkoff organization, to support nutrition research, national partnerships and developing export markets for dairy to bring a fully integrated promotion program to the region. For more information, visit www.AmericanDairy.com.