PITTSBURGH, Pa. (September 27, 2022) – GENYOUth, a national non-profit organization dedicated to creating healthier school communities, announced today the donation of a new Grab and Go school meal system to Pittsburgh Public Schools. The equipment, which is being funded through a donation from American Dairy Association North East’s National Football League Hometown Grants Fund, was celebrated this morning at a special Hunger Action Month school assembly at the Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy of International Studies 6-12, attended by 700 students and featuring Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Najee Harris.
GENYOUth’s Grab and Go school meal equipment program has proven to be a game-changer in helping schools grow school meal participation among the 30 million students around the nation who rely on school meals for their daily nourishment. Of all the steps schools can take toward creating healthier, higher achieving students, implementing school breakfast is perhaps the simplest and most cost effective, with very possibly the most direct impact. Breakfast is linked with numerous health and educational benefits including improved academic performance, student behavior, school attendance, and nutritional intake, while also addressing hunger.
“In our schools, healthy breakfasts play an important role in ensuring our students are set up to learn, thrive and achieve academic success,” said Dr. Wayne N. Walters, Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools. “Grab and Go school meal equipment feeds a crucial need in providing our students with opportunities to access and participate in daily nourishment. We thank GENYOUth, the American Dairy Association North East and Najee Harris’s Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation for their commitment to helping us fight food insecurity in the Pittsburgh Public Schools community.”
The statistics surrounding food insecurity for children in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania overall underscore the need for a concerted effort to ensure meals are easily and readily accessible. Across the state, nearly half of all students qualify for free or reduced meal programs¹. In Pittsburgh, free school meals are available to all students, underscoring the need to continue to increase access to and participation in school meals during a time of rising food costs and economic uncertainly for families struggling to feed their children.
“The national statistics on child hunger are alarming. More than 9 million children – 1 in 8 – live in food insecure households, and that number is closer to 1 in 5 for children of color². We need to ensure school meal equity for all students,” said Ann Marie Krautheim, M.A., R.D., L.D., CEO of GENYOUth. “Ending student hunger requires committed partners, and I want to thank American Dairy Association North East and the dairy farmer community for their support in helping GENYOUth tackle student hunger in Pittsburgh Public Schools. The only hunger a child should experience is the hunger to learn!”
“As a dairy farmer, I recognize the importance of fueling students with a balanced and healthy breakfast, and I am proud of the role farmers play in providing nutritious products like milk, yogurt and cheese that are so important in ending student hunger,” said Thad Sturgeon, Camp-Run Farm in Fombell, Pennsylvania. “Today, the donation of a grab and go meal equipment package marks an important step in providing students with access to healthy meals in Pittsburgh.”
In addition to donating the grab and go meal equipment, GENYOUth is also providing 26 NFL FLAG-In-Schools kits to Najee Harris’s Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation, which focuses on assisting underserved families in reaching their potential and goals by providing tools and assistance in areas including education, homelessness, hunger and utilizing sports as a platform to develop life skills.
“Youth hunger is a very personal issue for me. As an individual who overcame the challenges of homelessness when I was younger, I depended on school meals or I may not eat all day. To be honest, those meals made it possible to perform at my peak in the classroom and on the field. There were a few days when the school meal might be the only nutrition I could count on,” said Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris. “Grab and Go school meal equipment makes it super easy for students to be a part of in school meal programs, and I am very proud to partner with GENYOUth and American Dairy North East in helping ring the school bell to end student hunger here in Pittsburgh! I’m also excited to be promoting getting active and staying fit through the donation of NFL FLAG-In-Schools kits through my Da’ Bigger Foundation.”
To make a donation to GENYOUth and support their efforts to end student hunger, visit GENYOUthNow.org/donate, or text HUNGER to 501501 for a one-time $15 donation.
² USDA annual report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2021
³ Pittsburgh Public Schools
GENYOUth is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that creates healthier school communities. Founded by America’s dairy farmers and the NFL, GENYOUth convenes a network of private and public partners, including Fortune 100 companies and foundations, to raise funds for youth wellness initiatives that give youth the inspiration, motivation, and programs to be healthy high-achieving students. GENYOUth’s flagship program, Fuel Up to Play 60, enrolls over 73,000 U.S. schools, reaching over 38 million students. Our school nutrition grants increase access to healthy school meals among food insecure students. NFL FLAG-In-Schools is the fastest-growing youth sport in the country (ages 6-14) with over 32,000 flag kits to school communities reaching over 15 million students. AdVenture Capital brings out the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of students with the support of corporate mentors to solve real world problems. GENYOUth is the official charitable partner of Taste of the NFL, a purpose-driven Super Bowl culinary experience that raises awareness and generates funds to fight hunger and food insecurity to support the organization’s commitment to end student hunger.
About American Dairy Association North East (ADANE)
American Dairy Association North East (ADANE) is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council® and the regional consolidation of three promotion organizations including the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, Inc., Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program. Committed to nutrition education and research-based communications, ADANE provides science-based nutrition information to, and in collaboration with, a variety of stakeholders committed to fostering a healthier nation, including health professionals, educators, school nutrition directors, academia, industry, consumers and media. Funded by dairy checkoff dollars from nearly 10,000 dairy farm families in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and northern Virginia, ADANE works closely with Dairy Management Inc.™ to bring a fully integrated promotion program to the North East region.
About Pittsburgh Public Schools
The Pittsburgh Public School District is the largest of 43 school districts in Allegheny County and second largest in Pennsylvania. The District serves approximately 21,000 students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. The Pittsburgh Public Schools offers students a variety of options and opportunities that will help them succeed in school and prepare them for whatever comes next in college, career and life. Visit https://www.pghschools.org/
Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation
Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation’s focus is assisting underserved families in reaching their potential and goals. The Foundation hopes to provide tools and assistance to families facing challenging times—key areas include education; homelessness; addressing hunger and utilizing sports as a platform to develop life skills.