Learning from Our Community
Our research guides our work and powers our campaigns. We survey students and community members to learn their needs, then design projects and campaigns to help meet those needs. Our focus is on ensuring that young people have the food and nutrition they need to be successful, and eliminating barriers for young people to live healthy lives.
Students want better school food.
We surveyed over 650 students across Chief Sealth, Rainier Beach, Tyee, and Evergreen High Schools. The results were clear: 1 in 4 students do not eat school lunch, and most cited poor food quality as the reason. Students want to see change.
Based on what we heard from students, FEEST is organizing for these changes:
Fresh food: All meals to be cooked on campus (not frozen) using, fresh, local ingredients
Variety: More culturally relevant food on the menu, and more variety overall
Affordable: School food should be free for all students
Cost and distance are the biggest barriers to food access.
In 2018, FEEST’s Healthy Food Round Table committee gathered feedback from over 320 community members in White Center, WA and found that cost and distance/transportation were the biggest barriers for young people to access fresh and nutritious food in their neighborhood under food apartheid.
Based on this information, we are prioritizing schools as a place where students should be able to access fresh food. Our capaigns focus on improving the quality of food served in schools so that students have the nutrition they need to be healthy and successful.
Free, healthy snacks in class improve student performance.
To address cost and distance as barriers to access, FEEST conducted two pilot projects at Evergreen High School (White Center, WA) and Chief Sealth High School (Seattle, WA) providing free and nutritious snacks to students in school. The snacks were offered at the beginning of 6th period, the point in the day when students feel most hungry after lunch.
While slightly different in design, both projects produced tangible results, improving students’ ability to learn during 6th period by reducing hunger and improving focus.
Based on this research, we understand that access to free, nutritious food not only improved student health, but also academics.