Amid pre-Super Bowl 50 celebrations, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and Paul Rovey, dairy farmer and leader of the National Dairy Council (NDC), announced that the dairy-farmer funded Fuel Up to Play 60 program, along with support from the National Football League (NFL) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), will be providing $35 million in grants to food service departments in schools across the country. The grants will provide the schools with funds to perform necessary upgrades to kitchen equipment and infrastructure in order to provide students with better access to healthy foods.
Over 30 million students nationwide rely on USDA National School Lunch and Breakfast programs to receive meals once or twice a day, yet 88 percent of US schools have reported that their kitchens lack at least one piece of equipment needed to serve healthier foods. These grants will give millions of children access to more nutritious meals by providing school lunch programs with the tools needed to offer healthier meals with more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy, and less sodium and fat.
“These grants will go far in helping thousands of schools that face a daily reality that students often arrive hungry, which impacts their ability to learn,” said Paul Rovey, Arizona dairy farmer and chairman of Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff. “This partnership between Fuel Up to Play 60 and USDA really helps create meaningful changes in the lives of children by making it easier to offer healthy school meals.”
In 2008, USDA, NFL, NDC, and the GENYOUth Foundation partnered together to create Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program that helps encourage young people to lead healthier lives. The program has become the most effective of its kind, reaching over 13 million students in 73,000 schools since its creation. The program’s latest $35 million investment will help sustain the progress that has already been made by schools across the country to ensure that America’s children are greeted by healthier school environments.
Since 2009, USDA has awarded $215 million in school nutrition equipment grants, including $30 million this year. Fuel Up to Play 60, which has provided more than $22 million in funds to schools, is providing $5 million.
“Success at all ages begins with a healthy meal, and that is why at USDA we have worked to overhaul school meal standards to ensure kids have access to nutritious foods,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “This commitment from our partners will ensure schools have the equipment they need to provide kids with a well-balanced meal, promoting childhood health and wellness.
Schools and administrators interested in learning more about these grants can find additional information here .