Blackstone Valley Tech Awarded $4,000 for Mobile Breakfast & Novel Exercise Program
Feb 24, 2017 11:45AM
By Pamela Johnson
NEDFC Reg. Dietitian Hilary Walentuk (middle) presents a check to (L-R) Asst Supt. for Finance and Ops Kurtis Johnson, Supt-Dir. Dr. Michael F. Fitzpatrick, Nutritionist Martha Pellegrino, and Food Service Director Eric Carlson for their “Fuel Up to Play 60” initiative.
Upton, MA (January 20, 2017) – Succeeding academically isn’t simply due to studying: Good grades also rely on adequate levels of physical activity and healthy eating – a relationship that is consistently backed by research. To further support Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School’s efforts to promote the health of its students, the school was awarded $4,000 and intends to use this funding to increase student breakfast participation and promote physical activity. Funding for this program is provided by New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC) and the dairy farmers of Massachusetts and New England.
A mobile breakfast cart was recently purchased for the school with the aim of increasing meal participation. To support Blackstone’s efforts, the grant money will be used to purchase food preparation equipment, including a hot breakfast bar for a build-your-own-oatmeal station. The school’s nutritionist will work with the food service department to ensure the items offered are tasty, nutritious, and enjoyed by students.
By moving breakfast to where students gather to meet before school, and where they walk past as they hurry to their first class, more students will now be able to access breakfast. Even if students don’t have time to stop and eat, ready-to-eat items and coolers housing milk cartons will be made available alongside the breakfast cart for a quick breakfast option.
“The students are really excited about the Fuel Up to Play 60 program,” said Food Service Director Eric Carlson. “We’re also really excited about increasing breakfast participation with the new funding.”
School administrators hope that increasing breakfast participation will ease student accessibility to low- and non-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and positively impact student behavior. For instance, better attendance rates and fewer behavior referrals and visits to the nurse.
Although the school has a robust sports program, not all students play sports. The funds will also be used to purchase a Kinect for Xbox system and fitness-related games to increase physical activity participation across all students.
“Fueling the mind is critical to learning. School administrators are in tune with those barriers affecting participation in the school meals program,” said Hilary Walentuk, MS, RD, LDN and Nutrition Specialist with New England Dairy & Food Council. “Blackstone Valley Tech is making student wellness a priority and we’re glad this funding exists to promote their initiatives.”
Former New England Patriots Tight End and Super Bowl XXXVI Champion Jermaine Wiggins agrees. “Fuel Up to Play 60 works because it focuses on students – not adults – to be the drivers of change. As an athlete, I know how powerful combining healthy eating with exercising can be. This program teaches and reinforces these beneficial behaviors that will have a lifelong impact on the students’ health.”
Blackstone participates in the nationwide, Fuel Up To Play 60 program, which is a student-led, in-school physical activity and nutrition program. Participation in the program is free and is what made the school eligible for the funding.
Students, schools, and parents can learn more about funding eligibility in the “Funding” section at FuelUpToPlay60.com. Each funding cycle can provide up to $4,000 per school. For more information about Fuel Up to Play 60 in New England, follow New England Dairy & Food Council on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and visit NewEnglandDairyCouncil.org.
Nearly 74,000 schools across the United States, including more than 1,600 here in New England, are participating in Fuel Up to Play 60. Developed by National Dairy Council, local Dairy Councils, and National Football League, in collaboration with United States Department of Agriculture, the program empowers students to drive change and work closely with educators to find creative ways to make their school a healthier place.