June is National Dairy Month but before you pour yourself a glass of milk, eat a cheese stick or enjoy a yogurt parfait read about how your Idaho Dairy Farmers are doing more than just providing nutrient-rich foods for our bodies.
Did you know our Idaho dairy farm families fund the Idaho Fuel Up to Play 60 campaign offered by Idaho Dairy Council? In 2013, they’ve provided more than $1.5 million to Idaho schools in funding promoting the importance of healthy food choices and regular physical activity. This is an amazing statistic and shows the true commitment by our dairy farm families to keep Idaho students and schools happier, healthier places of learning.
Our students deserve the very best healthy school environment possible. The evidence is clear, as many research studies have shown the importance proper nutrition and regular physical activity has upon learning and overall wellness. Healthier, more active students do better academically. Without a healthy foundation, chances for success diminish. Idaho schools are an important part of helping students overcome today’s obesity crisis. If we give them the tools they need to make healthy choices, we get back a stronger society with reduced health care issues and increased longevity.
The Fuel Up to Play 60 program encourages youth to eat healthy and move more — and is a “win-win” for everyone. It has the complete package: a solid program mission with a positive message that inspires an entire school community to get involved. I’m so thankful for how much of a well-supported program it is and also for the additional grant funding opportunity made available by the Idaho dairy families so that I can purchase the much needed equipment and materials for my school’s healthy eating and physical activity programming.
“You get what you give” is a statement I try to live by and when I first heard about the mission and vision of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program and how it is personally sponsored by the efforts of Idaho dairy farm families I was ‘all in’ because when you have a local group of individuals giving this much back to children in their state it can only mean success.
My involvement in this program has benefited my school community in the following ways:
- Funding has provided valuable training and materials for teachers to implement classroom activity breaks. Research shows that regular physical activity breaks in the classroom help to offset the negative health impacts of sitting. We were not made to sit all day and our young people should not have to endure through this in today’s school setting. Our students enjoy getting up and moving for a break and teachers incorporate active learning techniques to break up the regular classroom setting.
- Funding has provided lunchtime physical activity and recess equipment so students have more access to activity opportunities during the regular school day. Lunch and recess are prime opportunities for students to burn excess energy, exercise and socialize. Having enough equipment helps reduce behavior issues and improves the overall environment. Our school offers a variety of activities throughout the year to reach as many students as possible (sports-based, recreational, yard games, or even walking).
- Funding has provided food for taste-test events that promote healthy snacking and the importance of breakfast. We’ve been able to promote nutrition education messages and allow students to be able to taste the good foods we talk about. Students have participated in recipe contests and logged their nutrition activity to reflect upon their behaviors.
- Working with our nutrition services staff, funding has also provided cafeteria supplies and a popular smoothie making blender that have helped increase overall breakfast and lunch participation. The smoothies in our school are amazing!
- The Idaho Dairy Council also provides FREE Education materials and curriculum resources I order each year to help supplement my current physical education and health programming.
- Our Family Fitness & Community Activity Night hosted over 100+ students, family members and community members who enjoyed healthy snack samples, physical activity opportunities they can do over the summer, and showcased what students had learned in Physical Education over the year. This is one of my favorite events as it helps to connect families and our positive healthy school message we have emphasized over the year.
I’m so thankful for the hard work of Idaho’s dairy farm families and their financial support in helping this Fuel Up to Play 60 program become a bright shining star in my school community and our great state. Find a way to thank an Idaho dairy farm family near you today! Visit IdahoDairy.com or FuelUptoPlay60.com or find both on Facebook for more information.
– Jessica Shawley, Moscow Middle School PE Teacher & Fuel Up to Play 60 Program Advisor