National governing body USA Swimming is ‘saying bye-bye to fast-food and hello to FASTER food’ by rising up against poor concession stand choices and overhauling how concession stands are run. Promoting healthy options with its new #swimFASTERfood campaign, USA Swimming is teaming up with Chobani and Milk Life to create awareness and educate USA Swimming’s 400,000 members on fuelling for better performance.
“Hot dogs, soda, chips, nachos and candy bars are some of the most popular items in swim team concession stands, so we feel there is a better way,” said Matt Farrell, USA Swimming Chief Marketing Officer. “We want to ‘Take a stand against today’s concession stand’ to improve how swimmers of all ages prepare for an event. We can show them that eating healthy doesn’t have to sacrifice taste, cost or ease of purchase.”
The campaign will include amusing short video clips, attention-grabbing taglines that take on today’s eating habits in graphics and other digital assets, featuring four-time Olympic gold medallist Matt Grevers. These aim to challenge swimmers and their parents to take action by making smart choices when it comes to nutrition. In addition, a #swimFASTERfood recipe guide will be available in USA Swimming’s Splash magazine and on www.swimFASTERfood.com.
“This is a Swim-tervention! We all know feeling your best is the key to a great swim, so why fill up with typical concessions stand foods that don’t make us feel that way? We’re here to change that,” said Grevers. “So, trade in your muffins for medals and join us in the #swimFASTERfood revolution to build champions and make concessions stands more health friendly.”
To help parents become advocates for change, the campaign seeks to raise awareness that swim meet concessions contain snacks that aren’t fuelling young athletes to deliver their best performances.
New research from the USA Swimming Concessions Survey shows US parents of youth athletes do want healthier options available for purchase at on-site concessions – less than two in five parents agree that concessions help fuel youth athletes to perform their best. The survey also found that:
- Parents are more likely to describe concessions as being unhealthy than healthy. Only 1% of parents say concessions are healthy.
- Unaided, one-fourth (24%) of parents describe concessions in terms of their unhealthiness – whether that’s because they’re not very nutritious, are ‘junk food’, are sugary or are fattening.
- 79% believe spectators would appreciate having healthier food and beverage options on-site. The top items parents would like to see available for purchase include fresh fruits (whole or sliced), granola/energy bars, string cheese/cheese cubes, nuts or seeds (e.g. almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds), fresh vegetables, yogurt and milk/chocolate milk.
- 81% of those who always/frequently purchase concessions agree they personally want to see concessions offer healthier choices.
- More parents bring their own snacks than buy from concessions because bringing their own is cheaper and healthier. 50% of parents who bring food and beverages from home said they do so because it’s a healthier option than what’s available on-site.
In addition to educating athletes about making smarter nutrition choices at youth sporting events, USA Swimming is making a concerted effort to engage parents, as the survey found that:
- Of the 42% of parents who run or contribute to stocking concessions, 64% are significantly more likely to purchase from concessions than those who rarely or never work concessions (64% vs. 37%).
- When parents are buying from concessions, they’re typically getting less-than-healthy options, like hot dogs, soda, chips and nachos, and purchasing these items for themselves or their athlete. Consumers may be buying unhealthy options because this is all that concessions offer.
“While a balanced and nutrient dense diet is essential for all children, it is especially important that swimmers are eating foods to fuel their active bodies and minds while spending long days at meets,” said Kelly Jones, Board Certified Sports Dietitian.
“USA Swimming is inspiring change at concessions so kids have convenient options to energize them for multiple races that are spread over many hours. Having healthy recovery foods on site also optimizes the swimmer’s ability to race or train again the next day. By partnering with food brands that provide the proper balance of nutrients for fuel and recovery, swimmers and their parents may include more nutritious options while away from the pool, too.”
Additionally, the campaign will feature user-generated content on social media using the hashtag #swimFASTERfood. The swimming community will be encouraged to show support for the cause by posting healthy recipes or taking a stand against processed, high-calorie concession stand foods on social media.
The USA Swimming Concessions Survey was conducted from 9-10 June 2017. Respondents to the survey were selected from Research Now’s consumer panel to reflect a distribution of adults 18 years or older across the US census regions. At the time of the survey, participants had to have at least one child aged 5 to 17 years old who actively participates in competitive youth sports. Without knowledge of USA Swimming’s sponsorship, 500 respondents completed the survey.