Written by Sam Iverson, Decorah F.E.E.S.T. Intern
The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative (FFI) brought the Seattle based program, F.E.E.S.T., and adapted it for Decorah, West Union, and Postville high school students. F.E.E.S.T. stands for Food Empowerment Education Sustainability Teams. In F.E.E.S.T., youth teams create a food menu without using recipes, and then prepare the food – focusing on learning knife and cooking skills. Then the team feasts on the meal they prepared together. The F.E.E.S.T. program focuses on youth advocacy and leadership.
F.E.E.S.T. is a wonderful opportunity for high school students to learn valuable cooking, communication, and leadership skills while still having fun and being able to enjoy a great meal in a safe environment. The Decorah F.E.E.S.T. team has had three meals this school year, held on Sundays at First Lutheran Church. The Oneota Community Co-op supplies the ingredients used for F.E.ES.T. with financial support from FFI.
Each F.E.E.S.T. is unique because the food prepared is always different. This year the Decorah F.E.E.S.T. team has learned skills used in making a wide variety of dishes including how to clean a chicken, roast vegetables, make (from scratch) salad dressings, soups, and homemade pizza. January’s meal brought the three area F.E.E.S.T. teams together in Decorah for a combined meal of multiple varieties of pizza and smoothies. Chef Chad Elliott, Decorah Schools Culinary Director, offers his culinary expertise to the team during meal planning and preparation.
The Decorah F.E.E.S.T. team has three more meals coming up this school year. The finale will involve inviting Iowa Representatives to feast in a setting where high school students can talk about local issues while everyone dines on a meal prepared by the students.