Power Snack Delivery to Spencer Community Schools
“Children need to be properly nourished to do their best work in school,” said Angie Ward, a guidance counselor at Spencer Middle School. “Sometimes difficult financial situations at home leave children without having their basic needs met.”
One of the most basic and important needs is a well-balanced diet full of nutrients. But foods filled with more nutrients often have a higher price tag, making it difficult for food insecure families to purchase these items when budgets are already stretched thin. This often results in food insecure families purchasing cheaper, more processed foods that are less nutritious. The Power Snack Program, an effort of Iowa Select Farms and the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation, is providing food insecure students with the means to purchase more nutritious food items.
Now in its fifth year, the Power Snack Program aims to reduce hunger and food insecurity in Iowa’s youth. Schools participating in the program receive enough coupons for their students to receive $5 coupons for shaved or sliced deli ham and $3 coupons for a loaf of whole wheat bread four times throughout the school year.
“Our students are old enough to take the coupons themselves to the store,” explained Ward. “Many older students will do this, which really excites me. We will also work closely with parents to make sure these are reimbursed so the younger children always have a healthy snack option when they’re at home.”
In addition to the Power Snack Program, students at Spencer Community Schools are able to take advantage of the school food pantry, which is housed in the Middle School and keeps both perishable and non-perishable items stocked for students and their families to “shop” from.
“This pantry is an effort of the Food Bank of Iowa, but is kept running thanks to our teachers volunteering their time and effort,” explained Adam Gress, Dean of Students at Spencer Middle School. “It allows us to better support our students by providing them with healthy snacks and meals. On average we have about 12 students a day who stop before, during or after school for a snack. It’s also common for those students to take food home with them.”
And as fate would have it, during our visit to Spencer Middle School Gress and Ward were gearing up to serve families that evening at the pantry. To help out, our team went straight down to the local grocery store and used Power Snack coupons to purchase enough shaved ham and loaves of whole wheat bread for each family in attendance to receive two pounds of meat and two loaves of bread.
“This donation is just awesome,” exclaimed Gress. “The families that come tonight are going to be so pleasantly surprised to receive this fresh meat and bread. As teachers, we are always looking out for the best interests of our students and the work we do in this pantry directly reflects that.”
During the 2017-2018 school year, more than 72,000 coupons will be distributed statewide to children in need. 1,600 of those coupons will directly support 200 children in Spencer – a $6,400 investment in ending food insecurity at the local level.