Local Food Highlights: Lincoln Elementary School Food Pantry

Through a grant from Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative, and a collaboration between Lincoln Elementary School and the St. Stephen’s Food Bank, Lincoln Elementary is now able to provide additional food to families at their school.  In early January, the Dubuque Community was awarded a 5-2-1-0 Grant through the Iowa Department of Public Health.  5-2-1-0 is a quick acronym used to promote healthy living using the markers of consuming 5 fruits and vegetables per day, having 2 hours or less of recreational screen time, being active for 1 hour, and consuming 0 sugary drinks per day.   This grant project focuses on getting healthy food choices into family’s homes and promoting 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

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Financial hardship or lack of access to healthy foods can make it difficult to get those 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in and make healthy choices with your diet.  According to the US Economic Research Service, 12% of Dubuque County residents live in food insecure households, meaning that 3 out of 25 people in the county have “reduced quality or variety in their diet and/ or consistently disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.”  Many of these food insecure households include children.  There are estimated to be 4,190 children living in food insecure households in Dubuque County.  When kids are hungry, obvious issues with malnutrition, health, and weakened immune system can occur, but hunger can also contribute to poor academic performance and low test score achievement according to the American Psychological Association.

Offering food through the school food pantry, Lincoln Elementary hopes to help its families by giving them greater access to healthy foods and family meals.  Earlier this year, Lincoln Elementary and St. Stephen’s worked to transition the old school locker room into a pop-up food pantry for elementary student’s families.  The kick-off for pantry was February 13-15 for parent-teacher conferences, and it was a huge hit with Lincoln families!  The pantry was able to provide food for 41 elementary school families, about 195 total people.

The school plans to continue the food pantry once per month and pair the pantry with events like school registrations and parent teacher conferences, when families will already be at the school.  Grant funds were used to get the pantry up and running, to purchase food, shelving, and freezer space.  They are looking for additional local funding  to continue the pantry every month, all year long.  If you would like to help with this initiative, contact Kathy Hutton at kathy@ststephensfoodbank.org to donate.

Another project funded by the 5-2-1-0 Grant will help with the construction of a greenhouse at Roosevelt Middle School. Look for more on this to come!

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