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Idaho Students Eat Their Way to Higher Test Scores

123MERIDIAN, Idaho (April 29, 2015) — The Idaho Dairy Council is giving away nearly half a million sticks of string cheese to ISAT takers statewide through mid-May.

The Dairy Does Good program allows Idaho schools to provide a healthy snack during standardized testing April 1-May 15 that can improve student performance, according to Crystal Wilson, IDC’s senior director of health and wellness.

“Research links good nutrition and physical activity to improved academic performance,” Wilson says. ”It also confirms that hunger can take over and impair a student’s ability to concentrate during testing when they skip breakfast or lunch. The string cheese we’re providing via the Dairy Does Good program can give students the extra energy they need to perform better when taking exams.”

The 2015 donation amounts to 494,946 sticks of string cheese weighing approximately 46,430 pounds. Three-fourths of Idaho’s public school districts (94 out of 115 total) are participating, representing more than half of the state’s public schools (393 out of 705 total). In addition, three distance-learning academies that perform centralized testing are participating, as well as 13 private schools (nearly half of Idaho’s 27 private schools).

Schools throughout the Gem State laud the Idaho Dairy Council’s efforts.

“We are excited to offer our students a protein-rich snack for the ISAT test,” Patricia Barnes, a counselor at Middleton Middle School, says. “Every positive factor can help with their achievement.”

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“The students love the string cheese,” Angie Rodgers, program advisor at Heritage Community Charter in Caldwell, says. “It has helped them get focused and not worry about when lunch is.”

“The cheese provided to our students for the ISAT testing has been very helpful and very useful,” Steve Erlandson, a counselor at Alameda Middle School in Pocatello, says. “The kids have loved it a lot, and we could use about another 2,200 pieces of string cheese.”

David Meyer, vice principal at Rigby Middle School, believes there is a direct connection between academic success and nutrition. Throughout the year he counsels, ”Students who eat regular meals consisting of mostly whole foods — especially fruits and vegetables — have more energy and better cognition for academic success.”

Educators also report other Idaho Dairy Council efforts, such as the Fuel Up to Play 60 grants it awards numerous schools annually to boost academic performance via nutritious food and physical activity programs, are achieving noteworthy results.

“Fuel Up to Play 60 has played an integral part at Hunter Elementary,” Gina Janke, a PE and health teacher at the Meridian school, says. “It has been the coin phrase when we refer to being fit and eating nutritiously. Our students live it each day and strive to live a Fuel Up to Play 60 lifestyle both inside and outside of school, as well as having a positive influence within their families and throughout our community. It builds excitement and maintains an expectation of overall health. This in turn helps students to achieve stronger academics and do better on assessments. Fuel Up to Play 60 has had a huge impact on Hunter Elementary.”

About the Idaho Dairy Council
The Idaho Dairy Council provides nutrition education throughout the Gem State as a nonprofit organization supported by the United Dairymen of Idaho. The council provides free, science-based nutrition resources to educators, students, health professionals and the public via curriculum, materials, funding, and nutrition instruction. Visit idahodairy.org for more details.

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For More Information:
Crystal Wilson
Senior Director of Health & Wellness
Idaho Dairy Council
208.332.1643
cjwilson@idahodairycouncil.org