FEEST your eyes on healthful foods


Outgoing youth intern Kaylee Michelson recently passed the tongs of the local FEEST (Food Empowerment Education Sustainability Team) program to new intern Sam Poppen (left). A North Fayette graduate, Kaylee helped bring FEEST to West Union. She is pictured alongside a Seattle, Wash., FEEST member who helped lead a recent training seminar for Poppen, a North Fayette Valley junior, and other new interns. (Courtesy photo)


FEEST your eyes on healthful foods



By Mike Van Sickle
News Editor



How about trying a spinach smoothie, a dab of pumpkin butter, or a zucchini pizza crust?

These are just a few examples of the healthful concoctions mixed or blended to perfection by the local youth and adults of the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness FEEST program over the past year. 

Youth intern Sam Poppen credits North Fayette graduate Kaylee Michelson for introducing him to FEEST during his freshman year at the same high school.

FEEST arrived in northeast Iowa shortly after Michelson and 15 other participants from Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness attended a Food & Fitness Conference in Detroit, Mich., a few years ago.

“I quickly grew to appreciate the general uniqueness and creativity involved with FEEST,” said Poppen, now a North Fayette Valley junior. “It is not your typical organization. Everyone is strongly encouraged to share new ideas, and in FEEST no one is ever told that their suggestion will not work.

“People who become actively involved with (FEEST) enjoy everything about it. None of them are dragging their feet along to be in it,” he added.

The mission of FEEST (Food Empowerment Education Sustainability Team) is to gather young people together to prepare and share healthy, delicious food, learn about growing food, as well as provide a space for youth to become actively engaged in issues of food resources in their communities.

As part of the innovative program, students and community members are invited into a group kitchen atmosphere to create a meal from locally grown food. The focus is to encourage healthful eating and to teach food preparation.

“My personal participation over the past few years has progressively led to my new leading role,” said Poppen. “I strongly believe in the benefits of the program and feel my number one responsibility is to keep it going and get other neighboring schools involved.

“Besides having fun while learning about locally grown foods, new cooking techniques and new types of fruits and vegetables, you can’t beat the free food,” he closed with a large smile.

Started in 2006 as part of the Seattle, Wash., King County Food & Fitness Initiative, FEEST has developed a “replication manual” to share with youth groups across the nation, which are inspired by the program’s success.

Iowa’s FEEST program provides an environment for youth to learn about foods, create a menu, and prepare food with a focus on locally grown foods.

The local FEEST participants meet approximately once per month at United Methodist Church in West Union. For additional information, contact Sam Poppen at spoppen96@gmail.co or (563) 422-7275 



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