Healthy Snack Programs
To address cost and distance as barriers to access to healthy food, 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.
Evergreen High School
In September 2018, FEEST organized an intergenerational group of community stakeholders called the Healthy Food Round Table (HFRT) Committee. The purpose of the group was to gather community feedback about the barriers youth in White Center face in accessing healthy food in their community and schools. From the community feedback gathered, the group was able to identify cost and distance as the top barriers to accessing fresh produce in White Center. Based on this feedback, the HFRT committee envisioned a short term solution of implementing a free CSA-style snack box for students at Evergreen High School (EHS), the most populated school in White Center.
In September 2019, FEEST launched the Snack Box Pilot Project at Evergreen High School (EHS). Every Monday, all 6th period classes received crates with enough fresh produce and nutritious fruit-based snack bars for each student to have one piece per day. Approximately 40 6th period classrooms, 850-950 students, were served by the Healthy Food Round Table (HFRT) pilot snack program. The snack boxes were created in partnership with Lee’s Produce, who supplied a rotation of fruits including Mandarin oranges, plums, Bartlett pears, Asian pears, persimmons, and apples, which rotated as the seasons changed.
Chief Sealth High School
In 2019, FEEST youth leaders partnered with the City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment to provide students access to more fresh and healthy snacks. FEEST youth leaders were recognized as an authority on student needs around school food, and were contracted to run focus groups with youth to generate 2-3 viable snack program ideas.
At focus groups at Chief Sealth International High School and Rainier Beach High School, FEEST youth leaders identified barriers to healthy eating at school, the time of day students are most in need of a snack, distribution methods that works best for their school, and the types of fruits, veggies, and healthy snacks students enjoy.
Focus group results showed a clear need for more fresh fruits and vegetables as well as culturally relevant foods that represent the diverse student body. By using the “hot spot” distribution method, snack boxes were distributed to students during the passing period between fifth and sixth period, a time of the day where students identified feeling most hungry after lunch. “Hot spots” were located around the campus in areas that would reach the most students. Students reported the snack box positively impacting their ability to learn in many ways. These included feeling an increase in focus, concentration, motivation, attendance, participation, and ability to remember information.