When almost all K-12 schools across the United States transitioned to virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some students who rely on their school as a source of nutrition, learning, physical activity and socialization were at risk. K-12 school staff, foodservice professionals, and communities worked diligently to keep students well-fed and healthy. Danimals and NFL PLAY 60 said they teamed up to put on the “Virtual Recess Takeover” contest, which recognized schools' vital role in promoting health and wellness through food, physical activity and literacy.

As the contest's grand prize winner, students, teachers and administrators at Hogansville Elementary in Hogansville, Ga., were treated to a day they won't soon forget, said NFL Play 60 and Danimals, a yogurt brand of White Plains, N.Y.- and Broomfield, Colo.-based Danone North America. They received the grand prize of a special virtual recess takeover featuring a virtual meet-and-greet with NFL star running back Mark Ingram. Each student also received a swag bag with fitness equipment from Danimals, and teachers received a stocked fridge in the teacher's lounge.

Hogansville Elementary, which is approximately one hour southwest of Atlanta, worked to ensure its school community had the necessary food and resources at the start of the pandemic, the organizations said. In fact, the school's teachers and staff personally delivered meals to students' homes, and the principal and counselor directly called each household.

Dollar General learned about the school being honored and the efforts to support literacy and education, Danimals and NFL Play 60 said, and was eager to add support toward the initiative. As a part of its Reading Revolution program, Dollar General provided a $50,000 gift to support the school's literacy initiatives. The company also awarded approximately $10,000 in supplies, which included a book for every student and gift cards and 3M supplies to teachers, staff, and administrators.

"Schools are such an important source of consistent nutrition and physical activity for kids, particularly those experiencing food-insecurity," says Amanda Fried, associate brand manager at Danone North America. "We were inspired by the great lengths that the staff at Hogansville Elementary took to continue to support their students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We are thrilled to join forces with like-minded partners to celebrate and give back to one of the many deserving schools."

K-12 foodservice staff members from across the country were invited to nominate a school, and the contest received nearly 100 submissions with stories of K-12 schools going above and beyond for their students and their communities during the pandemic, Danimals and NFL Play 60 said.

Danimals also awarded 10 runner-up schools with a NFLShop.com gift card, along with a personalized video message from Mark Ingram. The runner-up schools were Madison Park Middle in Phoenix; Clayton Partnership in Thornton, Colo.; Bella Romero Academy in Greeley, Colo.; Hawthorn Hill Elementary in Lee's Summit, Mo.; Hazlewood Elementary in Town Creek, Ala.; T.G. Barr in Phoenix; Matthew Arthur Elementary in Kathleen, Ga.; Ridge View Community School in Dexter, Maine; Roscommon Middle in Roscommon, Mich; and Troutman Elementary in Troutman, N.C.