Iowa Select Farms and the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation are continuing to reduce childhood hunger in Iowa with the Power Snack program. This year, food-insecure children across Iowa received pork sticks in addition to existing Power Snack coupons for deli ham and whole wheat bread. Between Nov. 11-26, Foundation volunteers and Iowa Select Farms employees distributed 10,000 pork sticks and coupons for 1 million ham sandwiches to 22,571 children at 125 schools.
"We are excited about the addition of pork sticks because they'll serve as an immediate, nutritious resource for kids," says Jen Sorenson, Communications director of Iowa Select Farms. "They pack a powerful protein punch and can help students curb hunger and focus on learning."
In Iowa, 1 in 5 children are considered food insecure. According to Scott Jeske, principal at Robert Blue Middle School in Eagle Grove, weekends and extended holiday breaks are especially difficult on children who regularly eat breakfast and lunch at school. "Being well-nourished is a basic need that has to be filled before students can start learning," Jeske says. "We see a difference in students that come to school hungry versus those that don't, and Power Snack continues to be a great asset for our kids."
Power Snack Teacher Kits contain 80 pork sticks and four Power Snack booklets for each child containing a $5 coupon for deli ham and a $3 coupon for a loaf of whole wheat bread — the ingredients needed to make their own "Power Snacks" at home. In total, 91,004 Power Snack deli ham and whole wheat bread coupon packs and 10,000 pork sticks were delivered to school principals, teachers and nurses and are intended for distribution to at-risk children right before Thanksgiving, winter, spring and summer breaks.
Ham is lean, nutrient-rich protein
"Kids love ham," explains Sorenson. "It's easy to prepare, full of flavor and promotes growth and development. Combining the energy and carbohydrates of whole wheat bread with the protein of ham means the children will have made themselves a real Power Snack."
According to the National Pork Board, pork loin, tenderloin and ham are excellent sources of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus and protein, and a good source of zinc and potassium. The USDA MyPlate guidelines recommend children eat up to six ounces of lean protein daily, depending on age and gender.