Gov. Dave Heineman today joined Nebraska dairy industry representatives to highlight a national program designed to encourage healthy food choices and physical activity for Nebraska school students. Gov. Heineman, along with Nebraska's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joann Schaefer and other state representatives, outlined the "Fuel Up to Play 60" program, which aims to raise awareness of healthy choices and empower students to choose healthy foods and be physically active through play for at least 60 minutes per day.
"This program is important to school children and dairy farmers in Nebraska," said Gov. Heineman. "Kids who eat a variety of healthy foods and are physically active every day do better in the classroom. This program encourages a well-balanced diet that Nebraska farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses produce, including diverse healthy food choices from low-fat dairy products to lean meats, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains."
Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school program launched by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture. In Nebraska, the program is provided by the Midwest Dairy Council and is supported by dairy farmers who pay checkoff funds to the Midwest Dairy Association.
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The Fuel Up to Play 60 program is important as Nebraska and the nation continue to address childhood obesity concerns. According to the recent Division of Public Health report, Nebraska mirrors national statistics in that almost one-third of Nebraska children, 10 to 17 years of age, are considered overweight or obese.
School leaders who participate in Fuel Up to Play 60 raise awareness of nutrition and physical activity, and can apply for funding for things such as taste testing of healthy foods to add to the lunchroom menu, and for the purchase of physical activity equipment. To date, 981 Nebraska schools have signed up for the program, and $57,700 has been awarded for programming.
Gov. Heineman was joined by David Crook, a dairy farmer from Humboldt, and representatives of St. John's in Weston, a school participating in Fuel Up to Play 60. Gov. Heineman is the first governor in the nation to pledge his support to the program.