November 10, 2015

Big Red Fueling Station Raises $25,000 for Nutrition Gear

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The Big Red Fueling Station campaign — a Cornell crowdfunding effort to maintain a booth for athletes to pick up snacks — ended Saturday after successfully raising $25,000 in three months.

The money from the campaign will go toward equipment including iPads and IDScan hardware that the booth will use to track athletes’ eating habits as well as start-up costs. The booth, located in Bartels Hall, provides athletes healthy snacks such as apples, energy bars and high-protein milk on the go, according to the campaign’s page.

The refueling station began operating in August. According to Clint Wattenberg, the University’s coordinator of sports nutrition, the fundraising campaign marks the first step in an effort to improve the nutrition of student athletes.

“[The campaign] represents a starting budget,” Wattenberg said. “Moving forward, the budget is quite a bit more substantial than the crowdfunding represented. But effectively [the crowdfunding campaign] allows us to get more and more teams involved. We’re going to have all 37 teams here throughout the year as they are in season.”

With both fall and winter sports in season now, the refueling station is particularly crowded this time of year, according to Wattenberg.

“We’re running through about 350 student-athletes a day in our busier days right now with our fall and winter teams both being in season,” Wattenberg said. “It’s been incredibly positive, very successful and a blast to be able to help provide nutrition for our student athletes pre and post-workout and help educate them as to what’s going to best meet their needs during those time periods.”

Student-athletes have also found the refueling station — which aims to provide snacks that replenish athletes’ nutrients after practices and helps keep their diets more balanced — to be very helpful.

“A lot of people don’t get a chance to eat before practice,” said football player Geno DeMarco ’18. “For an athlete that has a lot of class during the day, it’s a nice way to get a little something in you before practice.”

Other athletes also mentioned that the accessibility of the refueling station makes it helpful.

“When you come to the locker rooms and you’re rushing after class, the line is usually not that long,” said Gillian McIlroy ’18, who is on the cross-country and track teams. “Sometimes it’s hard if you have a long practice and class later because the dining halls close early.”

The Big Red Refueling Station is utilizing many Cornell resources to provide what it offers to athletes.

“We have all the dairy coming from Cornell Dairy, from cows that are a mile down the road,” Wattenberg said. “All of our produce is from Cornell Orchards, which is grown a mile down the road in a different direction. Cherri-Buni is a product that was developed here at Cornell and now is produced out of Geneva. We have Trill-Yum Trail Mix that’s produced through Cornell Dining.”

Big Red Refueling Station is also employing environmentally-friendly recycling techniques.

“We have developed an upcycling recycling campaign where we’re recycling all the energy bar wrappers,” Wattenberg said. “We’re trying to make this as much of a local product of our Cornell environment as possible.”

Wattenberg said he hopes the refueling station will help athletes balance their nutrition.

“Our student-athletes are not different from any other Cornell students where they’re struggling to balance all of their commitments,” Wattenberg said. “Nutrition becomes an afterthought quite often as they are pursuing excellence in the classroom … By proactively fueling their body and their brain while they need their energy, it better supports training and essentially performance.”