CORUNNA — Athletes at Corunna High School will be getting a taste of something a little sweeter than victory next fall.

The program received a $2,000 grant from the United Dairy Industry of Michigan through its Milk Means More program to provide chocolate milk for students following practices.

Jason Beldyga, Corunna High School athletic director, said the goal is to get student-athletes drinking healthier alternatives to sugary sports drinks after they get done working out and competing.

“We’re looking to take more steps with athletes and improving their diets and what they put into their bodies,” he said.

This is the second time the school has been awarded the grant. The previous grant was awarded about four years ago and Beldyga said when applying for the money the school has to “tag” a program, but that the milk will be available to all athletes regardless of what sport they play.

This year the volleyball team was tagged for the grant so they’ll do a promotional photo shoot in which they promote milk and wear the classic milk mustache. Along with the promotion, the students will also have to participate in a brief online survey about what they consume while participating in sports.

According to the United Dairy Industry of Michigan’s website, “Nutrient-rich chocolate milk can help you refuel and rehydrate within the critical 30-minute recovery window after exercise. It contains a combination of carbohydrates and protein to refuel and repair muscles, fluids to rehydrate, and electrolytes to replenish what is lost in sweat. It has the added bonus of bone-building nutrients, like calcium, to help maintain strong bones and prevent stress fractures.”

The United Dairy Industry of Michigan will give the Corunna athletic program $2,000 and let them decide which company to purchase the milk.

Beldyga said he plans to work with the company that provides the school’s lunches so the athletic program doesn’t have to buy $2,000 worth of chocolate milk and then find a place to store it.

Coaches will be responsible for retrieving milk from the cafeteria after practices and games and getting the milk for players.

“At 20 cents a carton that’s a lot of milk we are going to be able to provide. There’s a very good chance the grant will provide milk well into the winter,” Beldyga said.

According to the UDIM, Michigan has about 1,500 dairy farms with an average herd of 300 cows. That means the state has about 428,000 cows working to produce milk and beef. About 97 percent of the dairy farms in Michigan are family owned.

In 2017, Michigan ranked fifth in milk production in the country and dairy cows in Michigan produced roughly 11.2 billion pounds of milk.

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