Fort Dodge Middle School Power Snack Delivery

posted on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

“Food insecurity concerns me a great deal,” says Fort Dodge Middle School Principal, Ryan Flaherty. “It is a basic need that too many of our students are not getting met.”

At Fort Dodge Middle School in Fort Dodge, Iowa, more than half of the student population qualifies for free or reduced lunch. As a part of their efforts to relieve hunger in the state of Iowa, the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation and Iowa Select Farms stopped by the school last week to deliver Principal Flaherty with 450 Power Snacks – a contribution valued at $14,400.

The Power Snack™ Program, which is organized and funded by the Foundation, gives teachers, paras and principals like Flaherty the means to help their students in need. It provides students access to protein and whole grain or wheat bread, grocery items that may not have otherwise been accessible for families due to their higher price.

Each student will receive $5 coupons for sliced or shaved ham and $3 coupons for a loaf of whole wheat bread. Together, students will be able to create their own Power Snack.

“The coupons are a great way to get healthy food for our students on weekends or extended breaks,” Flaherty says. “It also puts families in grocery stores where healthy food like fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins are accessible. Hungry students can cause a spike in attendance problems and often lack focus. Until we meet students' basic needs, it is unrealistic to think that we can maximize their learning potential.”

Flaherty says he has noticed students who are hungry are often times anxious and unaware of when their basic needs will be met. Being a hungry student is not something many like to talk about. “They are often times self-conscious,” Flaherty says. “It isn’t popular to admit you come from a family who struggles to put food on the table.”

Food insecurity is a tough issue among children because it is, most of the time, a situation out of their control. When in school, students can feel a little at ease, knowing there are programs to support them when it comes to food. But there is also the issue of coming to school hungry or not having nutritious snacks throughout the day.

“Following the super hero theme of the coupons, we want to help students use their own super powers to make a delicious and healthy snack,” says Jen Sorenson, Director of Communications at Iowa Select Farms. “With coupons in hand, the students have to get to the grocery store and shop for the ham and bread. When they get to the checkout line, all they have to do is hand the cashier the coupons. It’s that easy.”

In addition to the Power Snack™ Program, students at Fort Dodge Middle School receive support from the community’s Backpack Buddies Program. This program helps provide students with food over the weekends. The Fort Dodge community also has a few food pantries and food drives that happen throughout the year. Flaherty says The Power Snack™ coupons will be a very welcomed addition to supporting food insecure students.