Going for the Gold

Apr 21, 2016
Going for the Gold

Students learn the value of milk and a healthy breakfast in Checkoff-sponsored Breakfast Games

Students at three elementary schools recently received a crash course on the most important meal of the day — and had a lot of fun in the process. Dairy MAX’s Breakfast Games, an Olympics-style morning of healthy food, fast-paced activities, celebrity appearances and a whole lot of milk, were created to empower kids with knowledge about food choices and how they can fuel their school day.

Now in its second year, Dairy MAX took its 2016 Breakfast Games to Southern Hills Elementary School, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Pleasant Hills Elementary School, Leander, Texas; and Orange Grove Elementary School, Houston, Texas.

Each of the events began the same way: With a healthy breakfast including dairy products like milk and yogurt. At each school, the games consisted of a fun obstacle course and a chance to win gold, silver or bronze and stand on the Olympics-style podium.

Once the students were fueled up, the celebrities came in to rev up the crowd. In Oklahoma City, it was Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick and former Miss Oklahoma (and runner-up to Miss America) Betty Thompson. Both have strong — but very different — ties to dairy, explains Macey Fitzgerald, a school wellness consultant for Dairy MAX.

She says Thompson grew up working with dairy cattle in Chandler, Oklahoma, while Frederick grew up in a family that consumed a lot of dairy.

“Travis shared a really cool story about how he was one of five boys,” Fitzgerald says. “Now he is six feet, four inches, and 315 pounds. I can only imagine that the other boys are just as big as he is. He said his family went through 14 gallons of milk every single week! And he knows that all of that milk, along with getting his fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, played a crucial role in his health and his athletic success.”

In Leander, Dallas Cowboys strong safety Barry Church talked to students about the benefits of dairy and a healthy breakfast, alongside Dublin dairy farmer Bryan Lanting. Joann Knox, a school wellness consultant for Dairy MAX, says not only kids were reached, but many community members attended the event and left with valuable takeaways. Breakfast itself was a game, featuring a parfait-building contest.

“We had about 25 guests attend the activities,” Knox says. “It was really great to see community members, school board members and even the Texas Agriculture Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner play a role and see the excitement of the students.”

In Houston, former Houston Texans and current team ambassador, J.J. Moses served as emcee and dairy farmer Brennan Ribeiro put a face behind the products kids love.

But it wasn’t all fun and games, says Chaun Vaughn, another of Dairy MAX’s school wellness consultants. The Breakfast Games are a project with a purpose.

“Through the Breakfast Games, we are reaching students at a very early age,” she says. “They will be used to eating and drinking dairy foods and will carry that into their adulthood. They're learning the true facts about dairy from real experts — not from social media or people with ulterior motives. I think we're cultivating a great culture of students who are enthusiastic about dairy.”

“Everything we do,” Vaughn says, “is to increase demand for dairy products. But as an added bonus, we’re helping kids learn how to make healthy choices, too.”

And that’s worth its weight in gold.