Maya sees many more classmates at Rogers Middle School in St. Louis eating a nutritious breakfast than she’s ever seen. This also means that Kathy Beezley, a nurse at the school, sees fewer students coming to her office complaining of hunger pangs.
These changes are thanks to Fuel Up to Play 60, a school-based program created by America’s dairy farmers and the NFL with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fuel Up to Play 60 encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Rogers Middle School received funding from the Midwest Dairy Council to implement a grab-and-go breakfast program. Maya, an eighth-grader, has seen a noticeable difference.
“When kids don’t eat breakfast they are more tired and grumpy,” she said. “I would see them buy junk food. Now, they get a healthy breakfast that they really like.”
Maya is part of a student-run wellness committee that discusses ways their school can become healthier by using Fuel Up to Play 60 strategies. They guide administrators on kid-approved changes to the menu, which soon will include smoothies. She’s proud that her suggestion to freeze yogurt has made the grab-and-go breakfasts a hit with students.
Beezley estimates that about 50 of the school’s 500-plus students were eating breakfast before the program began. Now, she figures more than 200 kids get a free breakfast featuring – among other items – milk, yogurt and cheese before heading to class.
“It was tough convincing our teachers but our principal said ‘These kids are hungry. We’re going to try it,’” Beezley said. “Our teachers love it now. They see such a difference in the kids.”