Snack experiment: Fairfield schools create healthy pantry for student athletes

After hearing some Fairfield High School athletes were wolfing down some unhealthier snacks before practicing, school officials scrambled together to create a first-of-its-kind organic and healthy snack pantry for team members.

The experimental Fairfield Student-Athlete Pantry snack pantries have proven popular and it’s also serving the dual purpose of reinforcing to teens the importance of snacking in a healthy fashion rather than eating empty caloric fare that doesn’t help their bodies or minds, said Fairfield school officials.

The new pantry approach is being tried at both the high school and Fairfield middle schools, where a combined total of close to 1,000 boys and girls participate in a wide variety of sports programs.

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“The project has moved along quicker than expected, we did our research and worked with our food service director and some local nutritionists to make sure our student-athletes were getting the best options available,” said Aaron Blankenship, athletic director for the 10,000-student Fairfield Schools.

Thanks to donations, the snacks are free to student athletes.

Business donors and individual donations are helping to keep the sport pantries stocked.

“We focused on providing protein-rich and carbohydrate-heavy snacks that are easy to eat on the go,” said Blankenship.

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“Our athletic trainers and I have recently seen an uptick in student-athletes not meeting their nutritional needs for many reasons. After some planning, conversations with local nutritionists, several key donations and boosters support, we were proud to open a Student-Athlete Pantry to help meet these needs,” he said.

“And later this month, we’ll have an open session for our student-athletes and their families to hear from a local nutritionist.”

Fairfield High School Boys Head Basketball Coach DJ Wyrick praised the new nutritional program.

“The pantry has been a great resource for our student-athletes. It’s another step in a positive direction for our entire athletic department. We strive to put our athletes in positions to make them successful, and we are very thankful for the benefit that this will provide,” said Wyrick.

Fairfield senior Deshawne Crim plays basketball and appreciates the healthy alternatives being offered to him and his teammates.

“It’s a great thing to help us, given that a lot of our teammates and I don’t eat healthy and rely on junk food,” said Crim. “It’s been great to have it to keep us healthy and active.”

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