Jul 05, 2013 • By

Improving youth fitness and nutrition

General Mills has been at the forefront of encouraging active lifestyles for decades. In my role as Program Officer for the General Mills Foundation’s Hunger and Nutrition Wellness grant making, I was well aware of this fact.

What I did not know was that the company’s legacy of enhancing youth nutrition and fitness dates back nearly 60 years.

In 1956 when former U.S. President Eisenhower launched the Council on Youth Fitness, Wheaties and General Mills were among the first to respond. More recently, General Mills has been a supporter of the “One Million PALA Challenge,” an initiative to help kids become more physically active across the United States.

Since 2002, the General Mills Foundation, in partnership with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, has awarded Champions for Healthy Kids grants to nonprofits, schools and community organizations to help youth incorporate physical fitness and good nutrition into their daily lives.

The program has reached more than one million youth across the country through grants from the Foundation given to nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving at least one nutrition and one fitness behavior.

One inspiring example of a program that received a Champions for Healthy Kids grant in 2012 is Girls on the Run Chicago, which works to boost girls’ overall health and well-being through non-competitive sports; nutrition and health education; and leadership development.


Each year, 50 grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations working with communities that demonstrate great need and the likelihood of sustainable impact on youth nutrition and fitness through innovative programming.

Last month, we announced the 2013 recipients of the annual Champions for Healthy Kids grants.

This year’s recipients cover a broad range of youth nutrition and fitness programming, from running clubs to youth-led community gardens. The program is highly competitive with nearly 1,200 applications received this year.

I have the pleasure of being part of a dynamic team that is working to develop the next iteration of the Champions for Healthy Kids program.

In addition to streamlining the grant application process, we are excited to be further enhancing the Champions for Healthy Kids program with the addition of the new Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP).

Earlier this year, the Foundation announced a $10 million commitment over six years to support and grow the new PYFP. This expanded funding and partnership will enable the PYFP to reach an unprecedented 90 percent of schools in the U.S. by 2018 with research based assessment tools and professional development training and resources for teachers, parents and students.

General Mills’ contribution comes both in the form of financial support as well as in-kind marketing expertise to raise awareness and participation in the program.

At General Mills, we believe that the Champions for Healthy Kids program will continue to support innovative and sustainable solutions to improving the health and well-being of our nation’s youth. Continuous collaboration is needed and it’s important to realize that we are all in this together. Each of us has a role to play to promote healthier future generations.

The next round of Champions grants will open in October 2013.

Visit this site in October to learn more about the program and its funding opportunities.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition blog.