Farm to field: UND football nutrition initiative seeks to connect players to locally-sourced meat
"Meat Up for UND" will bring proteins like beef and chicken from the farms of local producers to the plates of UND football players.
GRAND FORKS – UND head football coach Bubba Schweigert is always looking for ways to improve the football program both on and off the field, and his next initiative, "Meat Up for UND," takes the game to local pastures.
"Meat Up for UND" will bring proteins like beef and chicken from the farms of local producers to the plates of UND football players. According to a flier for the program, the initiative to support the UND football program will allow players to “maximize their strength and training while utilizing locally sourced meat to fuel their bodies.”
In Division I athletics, says Schweigert, competition is every day, not just on game day or during the season. Focusing attention to factors outside of training, like how players are fueling their bodies, can set a team ahead.
“You always want to find a way to keep improving your program, and we feel like at this point, nutrition is one of the areas where we can do a better job,” he said.
The football team started working with a nutritionist around two years ago, and Schweigert says he and others in the football program have learned a lot about how food can impact the weight, strength and overall performance of players.
“What we learned in that is not just what you eat, but when you eat is really important,” said Schweigert.
His goal with "Meat Up for UND" is to provide protein filled meals at opportune times, like after intense practices, which will help players build muscle, prevent injury and recover from hard workouts.
While still in the planning and fundraising phases, Schweigert envisions that meals using locally-sourced meat will be prepared on campus and players will eat the meals right after practice to make getting the right amount of protein convenient and accessible for student athletes.
The meals would also serve as another chance for the football team to be together as a whole.
“A lot of times when they’re meeting, they’re meeting as position groups like wide receivers, quarterbacks, you know, things of that nature,” said Mitch Wigness, director of development for the UND Alumni Association. “Another part of this that people are excited about is it’s going to be another chance for the team to have that camaraderie and come together and have some team building.”
Wigness says a few local meat producers have committed to gifting meat to the football program, or have shown interest in the initiative in its first few days.
“It is connecting ranchers who otherwise may not have a connection to UND, but are passionate about UND football, and promoting, overall, their product,” said Wigness.
Any time the surrounding community can be involved in UND sports, it is beneficial to the program, says Schweigert.
“The teams are not just for the university, they’re for our region and for our state, and to build connections, I think, is really positive,” he said.
Local meat producers interested in donating protein can contact Mitch Wigness at mitchw@UNDfoundation.org or 701-777-3678. The university is also accepting financial gifts for the program.