Some of the nation’s principal thought leaders in child health, physical activity and education have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines an unprecedented private-public partnership committed to child health and wellness. 

This historic agreement brings together the National Dairy Council, the National Football League, leading government authorities, and the Gen YOUth Foundation, a newly formed nonprofit organization that supports efforts to end childhood obesity.

MOU co-signers include U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell; NDC CEO Thomas Gallagher and Gen YOUth Foundation CEO Alexis Glick. This MOU sets a precedent for private-public partnerships and cross-department collaboration.

“We are pleased to join this diverse group to collaborate in addressing the childhood obesity epidemic – a problem too big to tackle alone,” said Goodell. “The NFL is proud to be a partner in Fuel Up to Play 60, which is making a real and lasting impact in schools across the country.”

Launched in 2007 by NDC and NFL, Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) is a customizable in-school program that empowers and rewards youth in more than 70,000 schools to improve nutrition and physical activity. It encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (including low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Fuel Up to Play 60 has earned recognition across the private and public sectors: the USDA has joined the effort, and additional support has been achieved from the nation’s most respected health organizations and several major corporations.

“Since more than 50 percent of a student’s daily calories are consumed at school, the school environment is an ideal setting for turning healthy behaviors into lifelong habits. To make an impact in schools and beyond, it is critically important to engage kids in an exciting way,” said Secretary Vilsack.

In this spirit of collaboration, a new Foundation, Gen YOUth, has launched. Gen YOUth Foundation will work with schools, communities and business partners to develop and support programs that create lasting changes in the child health and wellness arena, including its flagship initiative, FUTP 60. The Gen YOUth mission is to create a movement that inspires youth to change their behavior.

“Through Gen YOUth, we are building a team of players who are committed to combating childhood obesity. We hope that moving forward, more influencers will respond to our call to action and join us in taking an active role in eradicating the largest public health issue of this generation,” said Gen YOUth CEO Alexis Glick. “As the mother of three young boys, I know how important it is to teach healthy choices. But if there isn’t support in the school environment, we lose all the momentum we’ve gained at home. We need to tackle this issue from all fronts.”

The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors representative of organizations across the public, private and health professional sectors.  Members include National Dairy Council CEO Tom Gallagher, the Foundation’s chair; 16th U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, known for first labeling childhood obesity an “epidemic;” National PTA President Charles Saylors; former NFL player and FOX Sports commentator Howie Long; Washington Post Senior Associate Editor Lally Weymouth; Top Chef All-Star Carla Hall; LALA USA CEO Steve McCormick; and Purdue University Foods and Nutrition Department Head Dr. Connie Weaver.

Glick, a former financial executive and media personality, will oversee the Board of Directors.

Gen YOUth Foundation is launched with initial funding from four founding partners: Domino’s Pizza, Kraft Foods, LALA USA and Leprino Foods, with additional funding from dairy farmers through NDC. It invites business and philanthropic partners who share in its mission to join its efforts in pursuing a sustainable solution to the childhood obesity epidemic and help ensure that America’s children have access to the health and wellness information to help them succeed.

To join Fuel Up to Play 60 and learn more about the program, please visit http://www.fueluptoplay60.com/. To get involved with Gen YOUth Foundation and to learn more about how to make a serious impact on the health of America’s youth, please visit http://www.genyouthfoundation.org/

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Source: Dairy Management Inc.