Oh, All the Places Your Data Will Go! NFL Funding and USDA Lunches

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Oh, All the Places Your Data Will Go!  NFL Funding and USDA Lunches

By Anne Taylor

The federally funded school lunch program and the National Football League (NFL) are in a league of their own to provide your school with…a new playground!  But at what cost?

Earlier I wrote a piece School Playgrounds for Hire:  What Happened to Free Play at School and Is Adult-Directed Recess Stifling Childhood Creativity?” on the very subject of the lack of recess in our schools and how third party companies are up for hire on directing adult driven play.

About a year ago, a parent brought to my attention a program called “Fuel Up To Play 60.”  I was initially intrigued that the National Football League was involved in offering playground equipment to help schools in need.  But what I later found out from this parent, sadly turned from hopeful to the infringement on parental rights and yet another survey taken in school and on regular classroom time.

Here’s what I learned about how Fuel Up To Play 60 and what the U.S. Federally Funded Food Program is really after.  It’s obvious:  Your child’s data.

The starting line-up begins through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act which was championed by First Lady Michelle Obama and signed by President Obama.  Our U.S. Department of Agriculture made the first major changes in school meals in 15 years, with the hope of raising a “healthier generation of children” according to the Fuel Up to Play 60 website.

But do these reforms reflect what’s right for children’s health in a way that’s achievable in schools across the nation as Fuel Up to Play 60 claims?

Many schools here and across the U.S. received scathing responses on the First Lady’s healthy eating agenda after kids literally started dumping their food in school lunch cafeterias, even posting on social media – so much so that some poked fun at starting composting a class with all the large quantities of uneaten food.  And by the way, that was your federal dollars that ended up in the trash bin in the name of healthy eating!

I have to say, it was the federal food program that received the highest number of reads, comments and shares among Common Core groups!

That being said, in our state of Minnesota, several districts discontinued the federal food program after seeing their money go to the dumpster.  Wayzata and Prior Lake schools found success in their opt-out while boosting athlete’s calories of up to 1000 along with second and third helpings.  Sadly, this doesn’t help other districts who rely on federal food funding as some districts, such as St. Paul, have up to 80% of its students on free and reduced meals according to a recent news update earlier this month.

If food is so important, why is it that we are a society so reliant upon the need for federal funding that literally ends up in the trash?  Lunch happens to be the MOST important aspect of a child’s day in school.  For some, this may be the ONLY meal they get.  What makes this NLF program so intriguing is that the program punts the ploy to create healthy standards, while dangling a carrot for school playgrounds for districts in need (no pun intended).

From approximately 2010-2014 schools in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Anoka, Hopkins and Burnsville including Immaculate Conception, St. John and St. Paul Lutheran schools received NFL playground awards.   By 2015 Osseo, Robbinsdale, Rochester and Rosemount all took a considerable amount of funding for its playground equipment.  On the receiving end, if your school was listed as a participating recipient, your school would have received approximately $4,000 towards new playground equipment in exchange for your child’s information PLUS many, many stipulations thwarted by Fuel Up to Play 60. 

Read the playbook “rules” on personally identifiable information on coaches and referees (ie: teachers or program advisors) to view a list of stipulations on information gathered about your child and how Fuel Up to Play 60 WILL SHARE personally identifiable information including information labeled “Full Wellness Investigation” with the intent of highlighting nutrition services, physical education, as well as family and community information found in your school.

Parents:  If your school made the list, did you know about the survey conducted in school by Fuel Up to Play 60?  Did you know that Fuel Up to Play 60 “…may also keep records of non-personally identifiable or aggregate data, such as the number of hits a Web page receives, or the IP address of the computers accessing the site. We do not link this data with any Personally Identifiable Information (as defined below). Third parties that help us administer the website may have confidential access to this aggregate data.” Read Fuel Up to Play 60 full privacy policy disclosure here.

As one parent pointed out, “Their privacy policy states… “We do not share personally identifiable information with third parties except on a confidential and secure basis to those parties that help us administer our website or related activities.” You have to assume that “related activities” covers them in sharing the data with any of the hundreds of sub groups.”

After thorough research, that parent also noted “if you scroll through the site you find an endless list of foundations and agencies that are part of the program.  Each section of the program comes from a different foundation or group, and if you look a few of those, they are made up of another list of groups.  If you look at these groups lists of partners, you see the same groups listed over and over. It all seems like a shell game where they all help each other get more funding.  You could spend weeks trying to find out all the places this data could go.”

How’s that for a field goal?  Companies accessing data on your children for a mere $4,000 in playground equipment.  In the scheme of things Fuel Up to Play 60 is about monetary rewards for various activities while stealing you and your child’s information.

FYI:  If your school was one that received awards with children under age 13, there are strict regulations on surveys taken of minors from 3rd party collectors that fall under COPPA laws triggering a FTC (Federal Trade Commission) investigation for information collected on minors without adult consent.

With school issued iPads and Chromebooks increasing in our schools since 2010, and with the latest FERPA gut of 2012, again, did you give your child permission to the NFL to sell your child’s sole?  If so, how on earth is this keeping kids healthy in our schools under the same federal food stipulations in our schools?





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