Florida Departments of Agriculture and Education Join Florida Dairy Farmers and NFL to Improve Health and Wellness in Florida Schools

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Fuel Up to Play 60 Campaign Unites Government, Health Professionals, Industry and Educators to Defeat Childhood Obesity in Florida

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Many organizations have highlighted this growing problem, but few have stepped up and committed their resources to the extent that our dairy farmers are demonstrating today.

The Florida Departments of Agriculture and Education have joined a campaign to fight and defeat childhood obesity in cooperation with Dairy Farmers, Inc./Dairy Council of Florida and the NFL, multiple health organizations and several major corporations.

The campaign – Fuel Up to Play 60 – is funded with an initial private sector commitment of $250 million over five years by America’s Dairy Farmers, including 140 Florida farm families. Funding is expected to grow as government, businesses, communities and families join this effort to improve nutrient-rich food choices and achieve 60 minutes of physical activity each day among children. More than 60,000 schools nationwide, including 2,200 in Florida, are enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60.

“We not only wholeheartedly support our dairy farmers in this effort, we applaud them for the impressive financial commitment they are making to increasing fitness and reducing obesity in our schools,” said Charles Bronson, Agriculture Commissioner. “Many organizations have highlighted this growing problem, but few have stepped up and committed their resources to the extent that our dairy farmers are demonstrating today.”

Based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Fuel Up to Play 60 empowers students in grades 4 through 10 to engage their peers to “fuel up” with nutrient-rich foods they often lack – particularly low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains – and “get up and play” for 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Components, developed for and by youth, such as program curriculum, in-school promotional materials, a Web site (http://www.fueluptoplay60.com) and youth social media partnerships, are customizable and non-prescriptive. The program’s design allows youths and schools determine which tools and resources best help them meet their wellness goals and school wellness policies. Partner-supported school grants will help schools make long-term healthy changes.

Fuel Up to Play 60 also gives leaders in health, government, businesses and communities nationwide the opportunity to be part of a movement that relies on participation, collaboration and action by youth and adults to help develop and maintain healthy habits to last a lifetime.

The program taps the power of all 32 NFL teams, players and physical activity programming to add recognition and value for students. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins are working closely with the Dairy Council of Florida to promote Fuel Up to Play 60 in their respective areas. The National Dairy Council’s trusted school relationships are crucial in sustaining the program.

In a joint news conference on April 12, 2010, the Dairy Council of Florida, NFL and the Florida Departments of Agriculture and Education will announce a renewed commitment to work together to combat childhood obesity in Florida. Through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program sponsored by Dairy Farmers, Inc./Dairy Council of Florida, Florida students will have the opportunity to engage in healthy eating and physical activity projects and activities that empower their schools to get healthy.

In the 2009-2010 school year, 15 schools in Pasco, Pinellas and Palm Beach counties were presented the opportunity to participate in a Fuel Up to Play 60 pilot. These outstanding schools, principals, staff and students working together received grants of $5,000 per school to promote healthy eating and physical activity to all students at their schools. Each Fuel Up to Play 60 pilot team consisting of approximately 20 students and their advisor were charged with developing projects that inspired their peers to make changes to help them be healthier and more active. Each team chose a nutrition and physical activity project to implement throughout the year. The grant funds were used to help make the team’s vision a reality. (Bay Point Middle school in Pinellas County is being asked to attend the news conference to share how the program has made a difference at their school.)

The projects were planned, managed and executed in collaboration with other school wellness initiatives and included the principal and staff from areas including food services, health education and physical education. In addition, all students could track their healthy behavior changes online at fueluptoplay60.com through the state and national competitions.

“With one in three Florida children 10-17 years old considered overweight or obese, programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 are more important than ever,” said Jennifer W. Sills, Registered Dietitian and Director of School Marketing for the Dairy Council of Florida. “Through ongoing research and innovative programming and resources, the Dairy Council of Florida has been committed to helping schools combat poor nutrition, inactivity and obesity among Florida’s youth since 1958. Fuel Up to Play 60 will continue to expand in the coming years through bold leadership and new partnerships with organizations and industry leaders such as the Florida Departments of Agriculture and Education and the NFL, helping achieve changes no single organization could achieve alone.”

The goal is to use what was learned this year in pilot and non-pilot schools to engage more partners and expand the program in 2010-2011, making it more successful and impactful.

About Fuel Up to Play 60
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a youth-led social marketing initiative designed to help prevent childhood obesity and help youth develop life-long healthy eating and daily physical activity habits. As part of the program, student teams work with adult leaders in each school to make kid-appealing, good-tasting, nutrient-rich foods more available. They also create opportunities for daily physical activity, such as noon walking clubs and after-school sports and dance clubs. Fuel Up to Play 60 encourages kids to get involved and make changes that will help make their schools healthier places. The program reaches youth directly and engages their help in leading and inspiring their friends. Visit http://www.FuelUpToPlay60.com to learn more.

About Dairy Council of Florida
The Dairy Council of Florida is designed to enhance the school milk experience for students through marketing concepts that make milk and dairy foods more accessible and appealing. The Council also works with Florida educators to provide classroom materials and resources that further enhance the dairy industry’s image. The Council is one of 20 member organizations of the United Dairy Industry Association and carries out the programs of Dairy Management, Inc., the umbrella organization based in Chicago. For information on milk call 1(800) 516-4443 or visit our web site at http://www.floridamilk.com

About NFL PLAY 60
Designed to help tackle childhood obesity, NFL PLAY 60 brings together the NFL’s long-standing commitment to health and fitness with partner organizations like the National Dairy Council. NFL’s PLAY 60 is also implemented locally, as part of the NFL's in-school, after-school and team-based programs. For more information, visit http://www.NFLRush.com. © 2009 NFL Properties LLC. All NFL-related trademarks are trademarks of the National Football League.

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