Hobson School in Montana Upgrades Milk Coolers, Starts School Garden

Mar 26, 2017
Hobson School Fuel Up to Play 60 students in garden

When Vera Benson started her new job as Director of Nutrition Services at Hobson School last year, the cafeteria was serving milk for breakfast and lunch out of a Coleman cooler. Thanks to a grant from the dairy farmers of Montana, she purchased a new Fuel Up to Play 60 milk cooler this year and the kids at Hobson are throwing away a lot less milk.

“I just thought, this can’t be ok!” says Benson. “What I’m noticing with the new cooler is that the kids are enjoying their milk a lot more! Before they’d take a couple sips and throw the rest away and now the finish it.”

Drinking more milk isn’t the only healthy change the students at Hobson have experienced as a result of Fuel Up to Play 60 – they also started a school garden.

“Our fifth graders run the garden and they love it,” says Benson. “It is surprising how powerful something so simple can be in this age of technology.”

The students planted their first seeds last spring and during the month of May the entire school was able to sample some of the produce at the school salad bar – including lettuce, beans and carrots. Each classroom was also delivered samples of various types of produce from the garden for sampling to help decide what to plant this year.

“This year the fifth graders are paired up with preschool students to plant the garden,” Benson explained. “The garden has been so well received by the students and the staff!”

Another part of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program that the school implemented was the Ramp Up Recess play – which helps kids get more active at recess.

“We let the kids be in charge and run with it,” Benson says. “They decided to set up monthly all-school hour-long recess with one activity like kickball for everyone to play together.”

The group recess was not easy to schedule, but Benson said the students really enjoyed being outside for a longer period of time and that it got more students active during that time too.

The school also applied for an NFL FLAG Football kit, which they use in physical education classes.

“Without the Fuel Up to Play 60 program and having a reason to do these things, I don’t know that we would have come up with these ideas!” Benson says. “It gives you a platform and then you decide if you want to do recess or a garden – you can make it whatever you want!”

Benson admits that at first, the flexibility and openness of the program intimidated her, but that ultimately it was worth digging in and figuring out how to make the program work. At Hobson, she shares responsibility for running the program with another teacher – Benson does the forms and grant applications and the fifth grade class teacher works with students to get their points logged and do plays.

“Don’t get scared away! It is hard to get started, but the kids have really enjoyed it! It’s been great!”