Sheldon High School PowerSnack Delivery

posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

“It’s hard to believe that there are children in our community who are hungry,” said Sherrie Zeutenhorst, Principal at Sheldon High School. “It’s sad that a child should have to worry about where their next meal will come from. This is the last thing our students should have to worry about.”

At Sheldon Community Schools, students are no stranger to food insecurity. In the elementary school alone, 223 students are on free and reduced lunch while 110 students benefit from the free and reduced lunch program in the middle school and 170 students at the high school. That’s 503 students in grades K-12 on free and/or reduced lunch programs.

“We have a number of students that come to us hungry,” Zeutenhorst explained. “If they do not eat breakfast here, it is very hard for them to concentrate or focus on anything other than their hunger. All three of our buildings provide breakfast and lunch to our students, as well as snacks throughout the day if a student should approach a faculty or staff member.”

Food insecurity among children is a difficult issue to deal with. A lot of the time, children are embarrassed to admit they are not receiving the nutrients they need at home. Teachers at Sheldon Community Schools recognize when their students are in need of extra help and oftentimes provide snacks purchased with their own money or put money in students’ lunch accounts so that they can eat.

PowerSnack, a program funded by the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation and Iowa Select Farms, supports 355 students at Sheldon High School – an $11,360 contribution toward ending food insecurity on a local level. Each student enrolled in PowerSnack receives a $3 coupon for a loaf of whole wheat bread and a $5 coupon for a pound of shaved or sliced deli ham. The coupons are designed so that students can travel to the grocery store and pick up their own ingredients to make nutritious and protein-packed power snacks. Students receive PowerSnack coupons four times throughout the school year. Distributions are planned at times when students will go extended periods without access to free and reduced lunch, like winter, spring and summer breaks.

“Programs like PowerSnack bring light to the subject of food insecurity and proactively address the immediate concern it has in our communities,” Zeutenhorst said. “The coupons will provide fresh sandwich meat and bread to our students, giving them a positive insurance that food will be available. It’s just one less thing that they need to worry about.”

In addition to PowerSnack, the community plays a large role in making sure students are fed. Each week, students receive food and snacks to take home on the weekend as a part of the Backpack Program. The backpacks are organized by local volunteers and many even donate food to include in the weekly kits.

During the holidays, staff and students at Sheldon High School, in cooperation with The Village Northwest Unlimited, put together food boxes for 25 families in need, including gift cards for families to purchase meat. A local church also provides a noon meal for children and adults in the community during the summer.

“When a child is hungry, it’s hard for them to focus on school work,” Zeutenhorst continued. “Academics and staying focused are much more difficult, but with these programs we are definitely seeing a difference. When basic needs are being met, students come in ready to work for the day.”