WEST DES MOINES – Iowa Select Farms and the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation announced the expansion of a program aimed at reducing childhood hunger in Iowa by providing access to nutritious food at home. The Power Snack program, organized and funded by both organizations, will provide thousands of families in need with $5 coupons for sliced or shaved ham and $3 coupons for a loaf of whole wheat bread.
Now in its fifth year, the Power Snack program will offer these coupons four times throughout the 2017-18 school year to more than 18,000 children identified by their schools as food insecure. School-based food-assistance programs for children from low-income families greatly aid the learning process, but those same children may still suffer from food insecurity issues on weekends and holiday breaks.
“The super hero theme of Power Snack is indicative of the larger purpose of the program – empower children in food insecure homes by teaching them how to get to the store, grocery shop for nutritious food covered by the coupons and make their own snacks at home at their discretion,” said Jen Sorenson, communications director of Iowa Select Farms.
The coupons will be made available to school coordinators, who will distribute them to students and their families. The ham coupons can be used on shaved deli ham at the counter, or branded, pre-packaged deli ham, such as Hillshire Farm, Oscar Meyer, Land O’ Frost and Carl Buddig.
The coupons include a “Protein Power!” booklet filled with easy recipes, such as how to make the perfect ham sandwich, scrambled eggs and ham, grilled ham and cheese, ham wraps, ham pizza snacks and ham, cheese and crackers.
As farmers and pork producers, Jeff and Deb Hansen, owners of Iowa Select Farms, are passionate about assisting hunger-relief efforts, particularly those directed to children. The organization furthered its commitment to Power Snack this year by increasing the number of children served by the program by approximately 10,000 since the last school year, with a special emphasis on ensuring rural Iowa communities benefited from the initiative.
“We started our Power Snack program in 2012, and have grown the effort every year,” Sorenson said. “We’ve invested several hundred thousand dollars in this initiative and donated more than one million power snacks to families experiencing food insecurity.”
Though retail prices vary, the $5 coupon will typically cover one pound of shaved ham at the deli case, while the $3 coupon will cover a loaf of whole wheat bread. Neither the ham nor bread coupons are tied to any other offers, nor are there requirements to purchase additional items.
“Most important – kids love it,” Sorenson said. “It’s easy to prepare, full of flavor and is a lean protein that promotes growth and development. We also encourage program participants to use whole wheat bread when they make their ham sandwiches. Refined grains, like the flour used to make white bread, may be missing important vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, protein and fiber that were removed during processing. Whole wheat bread contains all parts of the grain kernel. Combining the energy and carbohydrates of whole wheat bread with the meat protein of ham means the children will have made themselves a real Power Snack.”
The National Pork Board says cuts of pork, such as pork loin, tenderloin and ham, are an excellent source of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus and protein, and a good source of zinc and potassium.
Children need up to six ounces of lean protein daily, depending on age and gender, according to the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines. Ham is included in the MyPlate recommendations as a nutrient-dense, lean protein that promotes growth and development.