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"Fuel Up to Play 60" Has Game Plan to Supercharge School Fitness and Nutrition

Posted by Whitney Rick, Agricultural Marketing Service Dairy Programs Promotion, Research and Planning Division, Dairy Program Director in Food and Nutrition Initiatives
Aug 24, 2015
Jack, the Fuel Up to Play 60 Program’s Delaware State Ambassador, visiting Chicago’s “Bean” sculpture
Jack, the Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60) Program’s Delaware State Ambassador, visits Chicago’s “Bean” sculpture during the 2015 Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassador Summit. Photo courtesy of Fuel Up to Play 60.

Meet Jack, a sixth-grader who is eager to become a school nutrition and fitness game changer. He is one of nearly 20,000 student ambassadors with Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60), a program launched by the National Dairy Council (NDC) and National Football League (NFL) in collaboration with USDA. FUTP 60 empowers youth like Jack to improve nutrition and physical activity at their schools and in their communities. Jack serves as student ambassador for his home state of Delaware.

In late July, he and a select group of top ambassadors trained like athletes at the 2015 Fuel Up to Play 60 Summit in Chicago—his first visit ever to the Windy City. In addition to playing flag football, making friends and having a great time, the ambassadors learned all about nutrition and the benefits of getting at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Most importantly, they learned the leadership and communication skills necessary to work with students and school staff to deliver FUTP 60 activities that meet their school’s wellness goals. Those goals could include introducing salad bars, planting and harvesting fruit and vegetables in a school garden or inviting an NFL player to talk about all aspects of wellness, to name a few.

Launched nationally in 2009, FUTP 60 has 73,000 schools enrolled and 12 million students actively engaged. Together with the involvement of local Dairy Councils, 32 NFL Clubs, USDA, numerous health and nutrition organizations and several major corporations, the program continues to grow and expand its reach and impact. Thanks to FUTP 60, 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. Nearly 16 million students are getting more physically active during the school day.

The National Dairy Council is funded by assessments through the National Dairy Promotion and Research Program. The National Dairy Promotion and Research Board directs the program under the oversight of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). FUTP 60 has also given more than $62 million in funds and rewards to help resource-strapped schools participate, helping them to increase student access to nutrient-rich foods and physical activity. The program encourages and recognizes schools and students with tangible rewards and resources, such as participation in a Student Ambassador Summit, prizes, official NFL gear and NFL player appearances.

Student ambassadors like Jack have access to many FUTP 60 tools like its Online Playbook. It features easy-to-do healthy eating and physical activity “Plays”—a collection of strategies that helps students “fuel up” with nutrient-dense foods and “get up and play” for at least 60 minutes a day. Targeted FUTP 60 activities and promotions also keep the fun and wellness continuing all year by bringing in outside experts and even NFL players.

Students, parents and teachers can visit FUTP 60’s website to learn how bring this program into their schools. And don’t forget to read about Jack’s adventure at the 2015 Summit on FUTP 60’s student blog, “The Huddle”!

Baltimore Ravens football player Chris Canty leads children at Hamilton Elementary and Middle School through some fun physical activities
The Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60) Program empowers students to improve nutrition and physical activity at their schools and in their communities. USDA photo courtesy of Lance Cheung.