SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Amid pre-Super Bowl 50 celebrations tomorrow, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, and Paul Rovey, dairy farmer and leader of the National Dairy Council (NDC), will announce the availability of $35 million in grants to help schools upgrade their kitchen equipment and infrastructure in order to offer students better access to nutritious foods.
Three in five students – more than 30 million children – rely on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for one to two meals per day, however according to a 2014 survey, 88% of schools reported lacking at least one piece of equipment they needed in order to serve healthier foodsi. These grants will give millions of additional children access to more nutritious meals by providing schools with the funds to purchase additional equipment to help them meet updated national nutrition standards, and serve healthy meals with more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy, and less sodium and fat.
In 2008, USDA, NFL, NDC, and GENYOUth partnered via Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program to help encourage today's youth to lead healthier lives. Together these partners share a commitment to support youth wellness through improved nutrition and by providing greater opportunities for physical activity through a public-private partnership to promote those behaviors among America's youth. This $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.
"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. 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," said Vilsack. "We applaud our Fuel Up to Play 60 partners for their continued commitment to child nutrition. This collaboration enables us to expand our efforts and have a broader positive impact on our youth."
Since 2009, USDA has awarded $215 million in school nutrition equipment grants, including $30 million being announced today. USDA provides this funding to states, which then competitively award grants to school districts in order to purchase necessary equipment, giving priority to high-need schools where 50 percent or more of the enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced price meals. This year, Fuel Up to Play 60, who has provided more than $22 million in funds to schools throughout the country, is joining USDA's effort by providing an additional $5 million through a separate, but concurrent, grant application process.
Schools can apply for USDA funding through their state, or for funds from Fuel Up directly through the organization's website. In both cases, funding will support the purchase of new equipment and/or the renovation/replacement of equipment. Equipment may include large and small items including utility carts, utensils, large-capacity food processors, industrial scales, steamers, freezers etc. Infrastructure elements may include building needs related to physical space, electricity, plumbing, ventilation and other remodeling needs.
"This announcement not only helps further showcase our collective commitment to youth and community wellness, but also the powerful results that can be achieved through public-and-private partnerships," said Alexis Glick, CEO, GENYOUth. "I am excited that the USDA and the NFL continue to join with us and America's dairy farmers to positively impact today's, and tomorrow's youth by empowering them to live healthier lives."
Schools that are interested in learning more about these grants should visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/nslp-equipment-assistance-grants.
About U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Under the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Vilsack, USDA has made significant and transformative investments in the lives of Americans living, working and raising families in the United States. Today, those investments are blossoming across the United States in the burgeoning bio-economy, an exploding local and regional food system, unparalleled investments in renewable energy, improved nutrition interventions for young people and low-income individuals, historic partnerships in conservation and greenhouse gas reduction, major contributions in rural infrastructure, and helping to lay the foundation for a new era for civil rights that will help ensure all Americans are treated with dignity and respect. In the area of nutrition, since 2009, USDA has made significant progress in maximizing the ability of our nutrition programs to fight hunger and improve health, while also ensuring that benefits are delivered efficiently and with integrity. USDA's implementation of the historic, bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has led to 97 percent of schools meeting updated, science-based nutrition standards for school meals, ensuring that more than 50 million children have access to a healthier school food environment.
About National Dairy Council (NDC)
For 100 years, National Dairy Council (NDC), the non-profit organization founded by dairy farmers and funded by the national dairy checkoff program, is committed to nutrition education and research-based communications. NDC provides science-based nutrition information to, and in collaboration with, a variety of stakeholders committed to fostering a healthier nation, including health professionals, educators, school nutrition directors, academia, industry, consumers and media. Established in 1915, NDC comprises a staff of registered dietitians and nutrition research and communications experts across the country. NDC is dedicated to promoting child health and wellness through programs such as Fuel Up to Play 60. Developed by NDC and the National Football League (NFL), Fuel Up to Play 60 encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. See more at: www.nationaldairycouncil.org.
A leading nonprofit, GENYOUth brings leaders in health and wellness, education, government and business together in a movement to empower America's youth to achieve a healthier future by uniting partners, raising funds and uplifting the student voice. GENYOUth has established itself as a thought leader in youth health and wellness and collaborates with its partners to convene experts, conduct research, publish perspective reports, and build programs that make a lasting difference in the pursuit of healthy, high-achieving youth. Founded in 2010 through a public-private partnership with the National Dairy Council and the NFL, GENYOUth has raised funds, increased visibility and commitment to school wellness among health and wellness leaders, educators, students, parents, community leaders and businesses. Learn more about GENYOUth partnership, volunteer and donation opportunities at www.genyouthfoundation.org, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Fuel Up to Play 60
Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Football League (NFL) and National Dairy Council (NDC), founded by America's dairy farmers, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. As a result of the program, 13 million students are making better food choices by selecting nutritious options like low-fat and fat-free dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Additionally, 16 million students are getting more physically active during the school day as a result of the program.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is designed to engage and empower youth to take action for their own health by implementing long-term, positive changes for themselves and their schools. Customizable and non-prescriptive program components are grounded in research, including tools and resources, in-school promotional materials, a website and student contests. Visit FuelUpToPlay60.com to learn more.
For More Information:
Fuel Up to Play 60/GENYOUth:
Office of Communications
i Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project. "Give Schools the Tools to Prepare Healthy, Delicious Meals." Give Schools the Tools to Prepare Healthy, Delicious Meals. The Pew Charitable Trusts, July 2015. Web. 21 Jan. 2016
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SOURCE Fuel Up to Play 60