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West Hartford Elementary School Receives Grant for Smoothies and Physical Education

From left: West Hartford Physical Education & Health Department Supervisor Lisa Daly, Aiken Physical Education Teacher Dan Golden, Connecticut dairy farmer Dick Jonelis, 5th grade student Autumn-Rae Walker as Swoop (Mascot), 5th grade student Hannah Shtern, Aiken Principal Shannon Mlodzinski, West Hartford Chef/Food Services Director Tim Prosinski. Submitted photo

Aiken Elementary School in West Hartford will use a $3,800 grant from the Dairy Farm Families of Connecticut and New England to offer students nutritious smoothies and enhance physical activity program


Aiken Elementary School in West Hartford is enhancing their school meal program by offering another option to students – smoothies.

Why? Smoothies provide another way for students to consume fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy at school. They will also begin offering fun bowling activities to students as part of their physical education class and in the after-school program.

The school received the grant during a check presentation held last Feb. 1 at the school, and was attended by special guest dairy farmer Dick Jonelis of Shadow Valley Farm in Somers, CT.

Aiken Elementary participates in the nationwide Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) program – a student-led, in-school physical activity and nutrition program – which made them eligible for the grant. Funding for the FUTP60 program is provided by the dairy farm families of Connecticut through a partnership between the Connecticut Milk Promotion Board and New England Dairy & Food Council.

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, elementary-aged children often under-consume fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as dairy. Adolescence is a crucial time to receive adequate nutrition to support healthy growth and develop.

Aiken hopes that with the addition of smoothies, their students will have more variety and additional opportunities to meet their nutritional needs throughout the school day.

“Students at Aiken School understand that eating healthy and being active is what keeps us being great learners,” said Aiken physical education teacher Dan Golden. “We are excited to be awarded the Fuel Up to Play 60 grant to help us in each way of thinking. Our purchase of a school smoothie machine will not only give us another great option for consuming fruits and dairy, but bring out school spirit even more.”

He also described how the grant will support the school’s commitment to year-round physical activity.

“In a school of 400 students, any way of being active (even in the winter!) is always encouraged. Through the learning of rules, equipment, math skills for scoring, and teamwork, the addition of new equipment to our school will help reinforce the importance of remaining active in everything that we do!”

During the check presentation Jonelis said, “I’m excited to hear that Aiken Elementary School will now be able to offer students fresh smoothies and new activity opportunities because of this grant. I’m proud to support a program that helps provide healthy options for students and fuel for learning.”

For more information about Fuel Up to Play 60 in New England, follow New England Dairy & Food Council on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and visit NewEnglandDairyCouncil.org.

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