PepsiCo Foundation Invests $1.25 Million In School Health And Wellness Programs

The PepsiCo Foundation announced two grants geared towards improving the health and wellness of America’s kids through the power of physical activity and good nutrition.  The grants, totaling $1.25 million, support the GENYOUth Foundation’s flagship program, Fuel Up to Play 60, and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ Healthy Zone School (HZS) Recognition Program, two leading school-based health and wellness programs.  The announcement was made during GENYOUth’s 2014 Nutrition + Physical Activity Learning Connection Summit at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

A growing body of research shows that physical activity and healthy eating are positively linked with student academic achievement.  Both HZS and Fuel Up to Play 60 are school-based initiatives designed to influence the nutrition and physical activity environment in schools that can result in measurable changes in student behavior and/or fitness outcomes.  Both programs recognize and reward schools for their healthy practices.

“PepsiCo and its philanthropic arm, the PepsiCo Foundation, believe positive change in our communities can only happen through strong partnerships,” said Tom Greco, president of Frito-Lay North America, a division of PepsiCo. “The PepsiCo Foundation is proud to work with such influential partners in the school health and wellness arena.  The $1.25 million Foundation grant expands the valuable relationships Quaker and Frito-Lay have already established with the GENYOUth Foundation and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.”

Fuel Up to Play 60 is the nation’s largest in-school wellness program, helping schools provide increased opportunities to be physically active for 60 minutes a day and access to tasty, nutrient-dense foods in more than 73,000 schools.  The program was created in partnership with the National Football League (NFL) and the National Dairy Council (NDC), founded by America’s dairy farmers, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Fuel Up to Play 60 empowers schools to help lead nutrition and physical activity changes that contribute to healthy, high achieving students.

The Healthy Zone School Recognition Program, developed by the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (UWMD) and The Cooper Institute, is a rigorous two-fold program designed to recognize and reward schools for their healthy practices.  Using evidence-based knowledge and best practices to assist schools in creating an environment optimal for promoting healthy behaviors, schools undergo a rigorous application process to be selected for participation in the program.  In the three years since launching the program, UWMD has served 31,000 students.

The $550,000 grant to GENYOUth Foundation will support Fuel Up to Play 60 en Espanol, which has been developed specifically to address the needs of Latino students and their families, a population in which the prevalence of overweight, obesity2 and food insecurity3 is especially high in the U.S.

To help overcome the language barrier, the grant funding will be used to create Spanish language materials for students, parents and educators and will be available nationwide. In addition, select schools will also receive mini-grants to be used for resources to help the school implement healthy changes, such as breakfast carts or athletic equipment. These resources will extend and deepen program impact, which to date has helped 14 million students become more physically active and make better food choices, including choosing low-fat and fat-free dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

“Schools cannot act alone—they need the combined power of the community, including business partners with shared goals, to equip students, educators and schools with the critical resources they need to create healthy environments,” said GENYOUth Foundation CEO Alexis Glick. “Public-private partnerships like the one between the GENYOUth Foundation, the PepsiCo Foundation and United Way are the blueprint to affect real change for our nation’s kids.”

The GENYOUth Foundation public-private partnership combines the power of the NFL, NDC and leading health and education organizations with grant providers like the PepsiCo Foundation and the Quaker Oats Company.  Quaker, a division of PepsiCo, has helped fuel families through the power of whole grain oats for more than 135 years.  Since 2011, Quaker has supported the GENYOUth Foundation and Fuel Up to Play 60 programs that help parents inspire their kids to eat right and find physical activity solutions that engage and motivate the whole family.

“As one of America’s most trusted nourishment companies, we have a commitment to help build happy and healthy families,” said Jose Luis Prado, president of Quaker Foods North America and GENYOUth board member. “From thought-leadership support to campaigns that reward and further develop Fuel Up to Play 60 schools, Quaker is proud to collaborate with the GENYOUth Foundation in multiple ways to advance schools wellness and inspire a better future.”

The $700,000 USD PepsiCo Foundation grant to UWMD will fund an expansion of the HZS program across metropolitan Dallas from the 51 schools currently served to 90 schools.  The grant will also fund a three-year pilot program in the Arlington, Texas school district that links Fuel Up to Play 60 and HZS.

“We are deeply grateful for the PepsiCo Foundation’s investment in the Healthy Zone School Recognition Program – vital to United Way’s commitment to eradicating childhood obesity,” said Jennifer Sampson, president and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.  “The pilot in Arlington will accelerate our plans to scale nationally.  By aligning ourselves with powerful partners like GENYOUth Foundation, Fuel Up to Play 60, the NFL and the PepsiCo Foundation, our collective impact is much stronger and will result in far reaching health outcomes that will advance the lives of thousands of children.”

Tom Greco is serving as chairman for UWMD’s 2014 campaign.  “Contributing to the health and well-being of citizens within our community is an integral part of PepsiCo’s culture,” Greco said. “Through our long-term partnership with United Way, our two organizations are making a lasting difference in lives within our local community.”

The Foundation has vast experience creating and supporting programs that promote healthy lifestyles, affordable nutrition, access to clean water, sustainable agriculture, youth employability and the economic empowerment of women.

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