Jan 29, 2015
Improved Eating Leads to Title

This season, Burke County (Ga.) High School turned to a nutritionist in a story that ended in a state championship. The story began with Head Coach Eric Parker seeing basic symptoms of dehydration and malnutrition in his players.

“We had kids who literally by Tuesday had to be removed from practice because of the intensity and the amount of energy they were having to expend,” Parker told CBS News. “We’re probably like most small towns in America right now – you know, we’re struggling. So, bringing food home and putting it on the table for a lot of our people, you know, that’s a big deal.”

Burke County is one of the poorest counties in the country, with 48 percent of its children living below the poverty line. Knowing this and seeing problems with his players stamina and energy levels, Parker met with Donna Martin, the school nutritionist. Parker told Martin,

“Our kids need more calories – they’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?”

After doing some research, Martin applied for federal funding through the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. One year later, at the cost of $3 per meal, they now provide dinner to 500 lower-income students in the Burke County school district.

In winning the 2011 state championship, Parker says improved nutrition was the key.

“We were finishing games strong,” Parker added. “We really had situations where in big games we got stronger as the game went along.”

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