Food and Fitness Initiative in Waukon

By Dietsy Mitchell, Freshman at Waukon High School


For the last few years, FFI at Waukon High School has been playing an important role in educating the youth on the importance of local food and healthy exercise and the tremendous impact they have on their community. FFI is comprised of about 15 students that go down to the West Elementary once a month and educate the first and second grade classes on local foods.


High school students meet bi-weekly during homeroom to rehearse the lessons they teach at the elementary school. The students are presented with packets to read through and in a weeks’ time, this information is used as a tool to teach the young students valuable lessons an insights into their bodies and what they eat. After listening to the high schoolers and participating in small activities, the students then have the opporutnity to try food that relates to the lesson just to read to them following the great taster rules. Papers are then usually sent out to parents to let them know that is happening in the classrooms. Kids get to try vegetable, fruits, dairy and meat products. The best part? All of these foods are local, and help stimulate the local economy, in addition to being healthy snacks.


FFI isn’t only rewarding the in sense that students get to teach the younger students, but it also offers lots of opportunities for their members as well, being that FFI is part of the ISU Extension outreach program. Due to this, FFI is considered a 4-H club. FFI members then get all the added benefits of being a 4-H member, like being able to show in the fair and interacting with the greater Waukon community.


Waukon isn’t the only program that has FFI. In some schools, it is called different things, with Farm to School being a common name. Each club has its unique qualities. Not all clubs cross-age teach, and some clubs concentrate more on their school gardens and bringing fresh and local produce into the school to incorporate into our school lunches.


Along with the fair, they are invited to the ISU Extension conferences. Recently, I had the privilege of attending one of these along with Nick Johnson and Gus Pladsen. This most recent conference took place at Upper Iowa University in the student center. Each participant had a list of activities to choose from ranging between cafeteria beautification, outdoor exploration, body image and many more. Each session lasted about an hour with a speaker at each one, and a guest speaker before lunch. This conference taught each of us all a lot that we were able to bring back and share with our school.


As a member of the program, I believe that FFI is a great program to get into. Group members have been exposed to so much information and ways to improve our health – and the health of those around us – and it is important to understand what we can do to stay healthy. If any students are looking for something to get involved in this year at school, email Andrew Blair!

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