Afterschool Meals Winning Ticket for High School Football Team

Author: 
Seth Doane, CBS Evening News
12/20/2011

In Burke County, Ga., where 48 percent of children live below the poverty line, 85 percent of students qualify for free school breakfast and lunch, but many students were going without meals at home. Consequently, the high school football team was suffering.

“We had kids who literally by Tuesday had to be removed from practice because of the intensity and amount of energy they were having to expend,” said coach Eric Parker. They were not getting enough food, or the right kind of food. Parker met with Donna Martin, the school nutritionist. “Our kids need more calories,” Martin said Parker told her. “[T]hey’re falling out by the end of the fourth quarter and we need more calories – what can we do? Wouldn’t it be great if we could feed them supper?” Through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, Martin was able to get federal funding to feed dinner to 500 low-income students. A year later, the additional meal was noticed. “We were finishing games strong,” said Parker, who was able to lead the team to winning the state championship. “I’m not going to cut the nutrition program and what it did for us short at all,” said Parker. “I thought it was a big part of our success.”

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