There’s a new program being rolled out, not just for Husker football, but student-athletes as a whole. Presenting: Husker Bucks.
The mental image might be one of monopoly-style money with a block “N” in the middle, but a swipeable card unlocks a way for Big Red athletes to stop hunger when their season’s at its busiest.
I had the opportunity to talk with Nebraska’s Director of Sports Nutrition Lindsey Remmers about the program that her staff developed.
“The thought behind Husker Bucks was trying to get the athletes something to eat on the weekends when they live off campus. A lot of them travel a lot, practice on the weekends and grocery shopping’s not done.
They have limited time, so instead of them going to fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and buying dollar menu-type items, we thought why not try to take advantage of the legislation and offer a snack on the weekends?”
The question became how to attack it. Obviously, there’s a plethora of student-athletes that wear the scarlet and cream, so how could she find out what they all wanted or if they were even interested?
“I sent them out a survey last spring asking them various questions. You know, ‘If snacks were offered on the weekends, would you take advantage of them?’. About 90 percent of them said yes.”
Using a very psyched-up voice, Remmers gave an impression of just how excited everyone was and noted she hadn’t gotten any negative feedback yet. I’d be curious to find out why someone would turn down a free meal.
After a chuckling about a question regarding whether or not Chipotle would be excluded from the menu (and it still may be), Remmers replied,
“Well, we’re still in talks with a lot of restaurants, so I can’t confirm any right now because we don’t have actual paperwork right now, we just have verbal commitments. I can tell you there won’t be any [majorly] fried food at any of the restaurants”
She went on to say that a number of sandwich places were in the mix and admitted while they might offer less healthy items such as chips or french fries, the athletes themselves are encouraged to make healthy choices. They’re old enough to make their own, after all.
A question I was extremely curious about: How can this system be policed?
“We don’t. They only have so much money to spend.”
The student-athletes get ten dollars on Saturday and again on Sunday to satiate any additional appetite.
While no one will be hired to follow athletes to where they get their grub on, Remmers and her staff do want to know where they’re so they can tweak the program moving forward.
“We can track where they’re going and how often to get usage rates and most popular places. Maybe once we figure out where the most common places are, we can put together something saying ‘these are your best options.’ Give them a little bit more guidance.”
When Oklahoma introduced their food truck that caters to athletes, Remmers wanted to provide something similar, but branch out beyond common athletic staples such as apples or protein shakes.
“I did read about that food truck and thought that was pretty clever. We’re more of a centralized place, so the food trucks probably wouldn’t apply to us, plus we wanted to give (the athletes) a little bit more variety.”
She admitted the future of the program’s hard to predict and the potential for options such as two meals per day is still up in the air.
Considering the infancy of the program, the sports nutrition staff wants to see how the initial run goes and then brainstorm ideas.
They’ll be convening at the end of every semester to identify which sports took advantage of what restaurant, usage statistics, etc. since each has its own chunk of the semester to compete during.
One thing’s for sure: Remmers and her staff are just another example of how Nebraska’s using NCAA legislation to remain at the front of the pack and using unique ideas to do so.
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Tags: Nebraska Cornhuskers