Dairy farms are the heartbeat of many communities throughout New England, creating jobs, investing in the local economy, and supporting childhood health and education. Dairy farmers are often the unsung heroes of our communities. They have been essential workers throughout the pandemic, making sure nutritious products are available for all. They also give back to their communities by taking care of their land, donating dairy products to those in need, and supporting youth wellness efforts in local schools.
In 2021, dairy farmers collaborated with New England Dairy to provide $135,000 in grants to 65 schools across New England for programs and equipment to expand school meals. Dairy farmers have been actively supporting school meal programs for over a century and in 2008 became involved in Fuel Up to Play 60, the nation’s largest in-school wellness program. The program strengthens students’ teamwork, project planning, and public speaking skills by connecting them to their communities, teaching them about local foods, and encouraging lifelong healthy habits. Through this program, dairy farmers see firsthand the incredible work students are doing as leaders of positive change in their schools and communities, and they wanted to celebrate that.
Dairy farmers partnered with New England Dairy to recognize students doing good and going above and beyond for others with the Fuel Good in Your Community Awards. Selected students earn a $1,000 grant to support school wellness through increased access to school meals and physical activity. Ten amazing students have won the award so far.
Brianna from Barre, VT
Vermont 2020-2021 Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassador Brianna volunteers at her local food shelf. Last spring, she distributed 100 gallons of milk throughout her community.
Indiana from Wareham, MA
Massachusetts Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassador and National Youth Council Leader Indiana earns over 100 community service hours a year. He is a counselor at his local Drug & Alcohol Resistance Education Camp and the chair of the Massachusetts Southeast Student Advisory Council. He also works with local charities such as Community Youth Empowerment and The Scotty Monteiro Foundation.
Tia & Kathryn from Cheshire, MA
Tia and Kathryn volunteered to maintain their school’s garden throughout summer break. They tended and watered the plants before harvesting, washing, slicing, and freezing the produce to use later in the school cafeteria. This year they are both embarking on an in-school science project that will encompass more work on the garden to ensure their classmates have access to fresh, nutritious foods.
Nikki from Seabrook, NH
Nikki is an active volunteer in her community and at school. She has participated in raking, beach cleanups, emergency disaster relief, and cares for stray animals regularly. She worked on initiatives to improve school recess as a Health Club member and boost school spirit as a member of the Interact Club.
Leo from Providence, RI
Leo is committed to finding solutions that benefit his school and community. His excitement and passion inspire other students to take action. Leo and his class led a school-wide survey to gather opinions on their school breakfast and lunch. Sodexo used the students’ feedback to reshape the school meals program.
Sam from Fairfield, CT
Sam completed over 100 volunteer hours last summer as a camp counselor at Wakeman Boys & Girls Club, where he helped plan and execute a coin carnival to raise money for the Fairfield Police K9 Unit. As one of the Career Fair Committee Chairs in the teen program, Sam brought over 40 professionals and 200 teens together for an informative and collaborative event.
Matt from Billerica, MA
Matt worked with his fellow students, administration, and School Nutrition Department to start a Garden Club at his school. Thanks to Matt’s leadership, the Garden Club now plants and harvests fresh produce to use in school meals.
Anne & Grace from Trumbull, CT
Twin sisters Anne and Grace started a schoolwide drive called “Mittens for Many,” where they collect mittens and gloves to donate to local charities. The two started the program in 4th grade and have since brought it to their high school. Over the years, the girls have ensured over 1,300 pairs of gloves and mittens were given to those who need them.
School-aged kids have certainly felt the impact of the last couple years as their lives changed completely. But in moments of discouragement, these students stepped up to help their classmates and community. New England Dairy farmers are proud to support youth wellness, encourage leadership development, and recognize students who are giving back.
Nominations are still open and parents, community members, teachers, and administrative staff are all encouraged to submit an application.