How Food for Schools Ensures a More Equitable Snack Time

Food for Schools
FFS Director Becky Hebert steers as other volunteers help carry snacks to Stefanie Mazva-Cohen’s car. Stefanie, Culbreth Middle School’s social worker, is pictured third from left.

On. Jan 25, social workers from Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools loaded up their cars with a bounty of snacks – provided by PORCH – that will help their students focus on their coursework this semester. 

Thanks to the consistently positive feedback from teachers and social workers, PORCH’s Food for Schools (FFS) program is now in its seventh year. 

FFS provides supplemental food to kids in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) who are hungry and struggling to concentrate in the classroom. Through FFS, PORCH Chapel Hill-Carrboro provides each school with $1,000 worth of snacks in a school year – $500 at the beginning of the school year and $500 after the holidays. FFS is funded by the generosity of local businesses, as well as civic organizations and a few individuals who sponsor the program. 

The snacks – cheese crackers, granola bars, applesauce, apples, protein bars, trail mix, fruit bars, and more – are purchased in bulk, brought to a central location, and sorted with the help of students who are members of Chapel Hill High School’s PORCH Club. Then, social workers pick up the healthy snacks on a designated day each semester. 

“When students come up for a snack, I often think how hard it must be for them to do work – to focus – when they’re hungry. I am so very grateful for this program.”

Smith Middle School social worker Tina Moore

Once the social workers divide the snacks among grade levels within their school, students simply let their teacher know when they are hungry and would like a snack to tide them over during the school day. Each school nurse gets a supply of snacks, too – a vital resource when students aren’t feeling well and need some sustenance. 

PORCH launched this program because it’s proven that hunger impedes classroom performance, and teachers and social workers often purchase snacks for students using out-of-pocket funds. FFS takes the financial burden off of school staff while ensuring that school pantries are well-stocked with healthy snacks.

“What I mostly think of is how very painful it is to be hungry,” says Smith Middle School social worker Tina Moore. “When students come up for a snack, I often think how hard it must be for them to do work – to focus – when they’re hungry. I am so very grateful for this program. When this started years ago, we were all so very grateful. We really did need the snacks, and it was hard to find funding for it.” 

Chapel Hill High PORCH Club members Abby, Mia, and Emily helped FFS director Becky Hebert sort the snacks in preparation for pickup day in January.

“[Food for Schools] helps forge relationships,” says Stefanie Mazva-Cohen, Culbreth Middle School social worker.

Recently, a school family experienced an emergency that required them to leave for the hospital directly from the school. “I was able to make sure they left with snacks,” Stefanie says. 

It’s a common refrain among the social workers and school nurses: When students approach them for snacks, they are able to check in with each other, and a connection is formed. This opens the door for attention to other needs and helps develop a bond between staff and students.

If you see our FFS sponsors around town or patronize their businesses, be sure to thank them for making this program possible! 

Want to learn more about this program? Email us at

Candice Norwood, Northside Elementary’s social worker, packs her vehicle with granola bars for her school.