Vikings players Jeff Locke and Kevin McDermott told students at Bethune Community School how important they believe proper nutrition is before joining the Midwest Dairy Council in presenting a $10,000 grant.
MINNEAPOLIS — Punter Jeff Locke and long snapper Kevin McDermott love playing football.
They also know the value of fueling up with nutritional food to power their bodies and minds through long days on the field and in meetings.
Locke and McDermott emphasized this message by joining Vikings Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development Lester Bagley, Community Relations Director Brad Madson and Youth Football Manager E.J. Henderson for a visit on Tuesday to Bethune Community School.
"It's cool to be part of Play 60 and Fuel Up to Play 60," McDermott said. "The NFL has put an emphasis on getting out and being active, but it's a lot easier to do that when you have good meals to fuel that activity, to fuel going to school and learning, to fuel going to sports after school, to fuel going and learning at home after school."
Locke and McDermott told the students during an assembly how important they believe proper nutrition is before joining the Midwest Dairy Council in presenting a check for a $10,000 grant. Locke and McDermott also made time to lead groups of students through football drills.
"It was a lot of fun. The kids had crazy energy, but I think it's always good to hear [this message] from a player," Locke said. "They get told by their teachers, principal and parents all the time how important breakfast is and having dairy in their diets, but hearing from us might energize them a little more to have a healthy lifestyle."
Locke said that many underestimate the positive mental impacts that proper nutrition can have.
"When you don't have a good breakfast in the morning, by the time you get to meetings in the afternoon, we'd be totally drained," Locke said. "We have workouts, meetings, practice, more meetings, so starting out the day right and eating something nutritious helps you perform on the field and gets you through meetings and being able to study and help your team."
BCS physical education teacher Kyle Hansen said he appreciated reinforcement of the message by the Vikings.
"It was cool, a great experience for the kids," said Kyle Hansen, BCS physical education teacher. "I've kind of told them a little bit about it to get them pumped up and increase their knowledge of eating healthy and getting 60 minutes of physical activity a day. I think with the players here, it was just an experience they haven't had before."
McDermott said he was fortunate to grow up in a household where mornings began with a good breakfast and the evenings wrapped with well-balanced dinners.
"I was very lucky to grow up with that, so it's important to pass that on to the young kids and let them know that their brain and muscles they have growing at this point in their life benefit from having a healthy meal three times a day."
The grant will provide Bethune Community School with additional equipment for physical activities, materials that educate about proper nutrition and equipment to support the breakfast program.
Midwest Dairy Council Program Manager Lisa McCann said the partnership is creating a ripple effect where students encourage peers to eat breakfast.
"We're very excited to work with the Vikings. It's our third year in a row to recognize a school that is involved in Fuel Up to Play 60 and focus on health and wellness," McCann said. "Kids are very excited to initiate healthy changes to their school, including school breakfast and being more active, 60 minutes a day."
BCS Principal Cheryl Martin said the visit was "priceless."
"Our students deserve so much, and they have worked so hard," Martin said. "This will help continue the efforts for them to learn about healthy eating, keeping active and finding a way to fuel their bodies as well as their minds. Our role is to make sure we prepare them for the next grade level and the future. This really supports our efforts. It is something that you just can't say thank you enough."
"Super School Breakfast" program announced by Super Bowl Host Committee
The Vikings were joined by members of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee who announced the "Super School Breakfast" program. The new initiative is part of the MNSBHC's Legacy Fund and includes Fuel Up to Play 60 "Breakfast-in-the-Classroom" grants that will be distributed to 52 communities across the state in the 52 weeks leading up to Super Bowl LII from February 2017 to the game on Feb. 4, 2018.
The grant program partners with the Midwest Dairy Council to provide equipment and infrastructure costs necessary for schools to provide an enhanced breakfast program for students.
Studies have shown that students who participate in school breakfast show improved attendance and behavior and decreased tardiness. According to the Food Action Research Council, more than 140,000 students who are eligible for free and reduced school meals eat lunch but not breakfast. Minnesota ranked 44th out of 50 states in offering school breakfast, the report found.
"The Super Bowl Host Committee Legacy Fund is focused on what powers healthy kids — fun, fuel and fundamentals," said Dana Nelson, Vice President of Legacy and Community Partnerships for the MNSBHC. "A healthy breakfast is the fuel that all kids need to be ready to learn and to kick off a healthy and active day. Super School Breakfast is just one way that the Super Bowl is leaving a positive and lasting impact on the lives of Minnesota's kids."