|New York Giant Kevin Boss and Jacksonville Jaguar Maurice Jones-Drew say Fuel Up to Play 60 helps kids compete and learn.
Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) is promoting better nutrition and physical activity by committing $50 million for each of the next five years to the National Football League's Fuel Up to Play 60 program.
The announcement was made last month at New York City's Central Park East Middle School before students, NFL players, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who affirms USDA's support for the program and says that First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the effort to improve meals in schools.
DMI's commitment means that just over 40% of its checkoff budget now goes to improving children's health through good nutrition and physical activity.
Fuel Up to Play 60 will likely reach 60,000 schools and nearly 36 million students by the end of this year. Kraft, Domino's, Leprino and Lala have joined the effort, and the goal is to reach all 96,000 U.S. schools as other partners sign on. The American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Medical Association and a number of other groups have endorsed the program.
Along with keeping milk in schools, the driving force behind the effort is to reduce obesity in students. Between 1980 and 2000, obesity in school children tripled, says David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General.
During his tenure, Satcher called obesity an "epidemic,” the first time a noninfectious, chronic disease was so labeled. If the crisis is left unchecked, the current generation of children could experience shorter life spans than their parents.
"This partnership, combined with reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Programs, can make a significant difference in our battle against childhood obesity,” Vilsack says.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which encourage students to eat nutrient-rich food, such as low-fat and fat-free dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and to "get up and play” with 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
The program is targeted at grades 4 through 10 and allows students to help develop a curriculum to encourage healthy eating and physical activity by their peers. The effort includes in-school promotional materials, a Web site and youth social media.
Components can be customized, allowing schools to determine which tools best help their wellness goals.
"Through Fuel Up to Play 60, we want young people to discover that healthy habits can be both fun and empowering,” NFL commissioner Goodell says.
More about Fuel Up to Play 60