The Heisman Trophy, Hunger, and Teen Athletes

In his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech earlier this month, Joe Burrow highlighted a hidden problem for high school athletes – hunger. Teen athletes need a lot of calories, and if money is tight, they may struggle to meet their needs for growth and competition. Meals from the school lunch program may not provide enough calories for the additional needs of athletes. Several years ago, a high school coach in Georgia noticed his athletes struggling with inadequate food. He partnered with the school food service to improve the situation and the team went on to win the state championship. This is the story as reported by CBS news.

How can teens on a budget get good nutrition to support their performance?

  • Use real foods. Special products are not necessary. For example a few saltine crackers and some plain water can provide carbohydrate, sodium, and fluid instead of a commercial sports drink. Chocolate milk, although not cheap, is effective and less expensive than a commercial protein drink for recovery and building muscle.
  • Use less expensive carbohydrate sources such as store brand cereals, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta or rice with meals. Athletes need plenty of carbs for fuel, so fill up!
  • Take advantage of lower cost protein sources. Teens can get 15 grams of protein from 2 eggs, 1 cup of legumes (kidney beans, black beans, lentils, etc.), 1 chicken thigh, ¾ cup Greek yogurt, or 2 cups of milk.
  • Meals don’t need to be fancy! A peanut butter sandwich or tortilla with beans plus a fruit or vegetable is great.

Stay tuned for more information on economical alternatives for busy athletes!

If you are interested, this is the link to the fundraiser for the Athens (OH) County Food Pantry created in response to Joe Burrow’s remarks:

Text and Photo © 2019 Kathleen Searles