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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition education’

EFNEP: Making an Impact

EFNEP

The nutrition programming through EFNEP has three components: healthy food and physical activity choices, making funds go farther, and learning skills to improve food preparation and food safety practices. Clients participate in four to eight lessons, meet with the educator at least four times, complete pre and post assessments, participate in food and nutrition activities, and practice their learned skills. Recipes are available in English and Spanish. During the program, participants taste new foods, acquire cooking skills, and learn about food safety and storage. As part of healthy choices, clients learn about preparing healthy foods and nutritious snacks for various stages of the life cycle. Making funds go farther in the grocery store is a skill anyone can use. Extension educators help clients plan meals, make grocery lists, read labels, and shop wisely. UConn Extension educators toured the Danbury Price Rite with moms from Grassroots Academy, and taught them about saving money at the store while feeding their families healthier foods. EFNEP has always included an evaluation component that measures food behaviors and dietary quality. Evaluations show the vast majority of EFNEP participants have made at least one improvement in their food choices. There is also an increase in the number of participants eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables after an EFNEP program.

Nutrition Education for Students

Heather and students

Photo: Hartford Courant

UConn Extension’s Heather Pease recently educated students enrolled in a child development class at CREC’s Medical Professions and Teacher Preparation Academy on how to make baby food.

Get Ready to Guac and Roll!

By Catherine Hallisey

FoodCorps Connecticut Service Member

 

IMG_3102-225x300It all started with me holding up an avocado, screaming enthusiastically,

“WHO IS READY TO GUAC AND ROLL?!”

Unfortunately, my quirky pun did not elicit the response I had hoped for— instead students started groaning, “ewww that’s green” and “where’s the ranch?!” even “I am not touching that!”

Although these comments seem harsh, I was unfazed, for they are not out of the ordinary; in fact, I hear remarks like this on a near daily basis as a FoodCorps service member with the Tolland County Extension Center in Vernon.  I am constantly cooking with kids, mostly elementary school students; trying to introduce fresh, healthy foods into their diets.  This almost always means having to deal with the one, or two, or even twenty children who are hesitant to try something new.

And oh boy was guacamole a new one.  To the after school 4-H club, the avocado I was holding looked  like some kind of cross between a snake and a dinosaur egg, and they did not want to touch it.  My little cooks were being especially challenging today, it seemed.  After the group gathered the nerve to mash up the avocado with some tomato, cilantro, lime juice, and spices, we moved on to cutting veggies, and I started brainstorming how to get these students to just taste a little bit of our wonderful creation.

As I sat chopping carrots with a few especially obstinate fifth graders, I started explaining how nutritious an avocado was …more potassium than a banana, special fats that are good for your heart, fiber that keeps you full, etc. etc.  They listened and nodded their heads, but were not persuaded to try the dip that looked different than anything they had ever seen before.

IMG_3125-207x300I racked my brain for a new plan, something fun, something unexpected.  Then it dawned on me- food art!  In what other setting would these students be able to play with their food? I took our giant bowl of guacamole, and started to spread it evenly on plates.  I gave each student a plate and various types of cut veggies and let them go wild.  Trees, flowers, smiley faces, abstract designs– you name it, and they made it.   It was messy, it was chaotic, and it was a success.  After all the effort each child put into creating their masterpiece, were they just going to let it go to waste? No! They were going to eat it- and soo
n enough, the “ewws” turned into “yums” and the “I’m not touching that” turned into “it’s not thattttt baddddd” (essentially a 5-star rating when it comes to fifth graders).  I sat back, crunching on a stick of celery, savoring my small victory, and brainstorming ways to get the students to try the hummus we’d be making the very next day.

Nutrition Education Award

Congratulations to UConn Extension‬‘s Heather Smith Pease, who received citations from the General Assembly and Senator Richard Blumenthal for the nutrition education she does at Hartford Job Corps Academy.

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Danbury 4th Graders & Root Vegetables

carrot%20danbury “1…2…3…crunch!,”was the sound of  children at Morris Street school in Danbury as the 4th graders bit into a fresh crispy radish slice followed by a soft sweet sliced beet.  Students enthusiastically described the colors, tastes and textures of the root veggies as they explored new flavors this Fall at the Farmers Market.

Heather Peracchio, Registered Dietitian and Assistant Extension Educator for the University of Connecticut coordinated with 4th grade teachers Rhoda Guider, Tom Young and John Zilliox at Morris Street School in Danbury, CT to talk to students about the health benefits of root vegetables.  On Sept 18th, nearly 75 students were able to see and touch root vegetables like fresh turnips, beets and radishes.

radish%20danburyStudents discovered how root vegetables have long been a fall and winter staple food since they stay fresh when stored in cool temperatures, and how the term “root cellar” came about.  Heather discussed the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables every day. Take home messages included 1) filling half of the plate at meals with fruits and vegetables 2) choosing seasonal produce 3) eating fruits and vegetables in all forms – fresh, frozen, or canned.  Children discovered what produce grows when in Connecticut by looking at and taking home a copy of the CT Dept of Agriculture Crop Availability Calendar  Students practiced reading food labels for sodium content and choosing “no salt added” for best nutrition.  Heather taught them to drain and rinse canned foods to help lower the amount of salt.

Heather gave the teachers USDA MyPlate Fruit and Vegetable posters to reinforce classroom messages.   These are a daily reminder for children to eat fruits and vegetables for good health. Children also took home a recipe, Roasted Root Vegetables in English and Spanish, http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/recipes/roasted-root-vegetables, so families could share in the veggie adventure!   Two days after the in-classroom lesson the 4th graders explored root vegetables first hand by taking a walking field trip to the Danbury Farmer’s Market at Kennedy Park.  Lessons were funded by USDA SNAP-Ed, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education program. 

Program Plants Seed for Healthier Eating

UConn Extension recently completed an EFNEP program in collaboration with the Norwalk Health
Department at a local community garden called Fodor Farm.  The Norwalk Citizen
highlighted the program. Read more about it on the Norwalk Citizen website.
Fodor Farm

Farm To School

usda-logoAcross the country, an increasing number of schools and districts have begun to source more foods locally and to provide complementary educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, and nutrition. This nationwide movement to enrich children’s bodies and minds while supporting local economies is often referred to as “farm to school.” The term encompasses efforts that bring local or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias; hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes; and the integration of food-related education into the regular, standards-based classroom curriculum. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports such efforts through its Farm to School Program, which includes research, training, technical assistance, and grants.

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New School Garden

Heather Pease from UCONN Hartford County Extension Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program and Food Corps member Deanna Lampo installed concrete block raised beds in the courtyard of Vance Village Elementary School in New Britain. Deanna teaches an after school garden and nutrition education class.

The  garden beds were built with concrete blocks that were purchased with funds  given by the Hartford County Extension Council. Now that the garden is in place after school students will plant the seeds of early spring vegetables such as peas, broccoli, and lettuces. Once the plants grow the students will eat they food they grew! The garden is an important link to nutrition education.  Most of these plants will be ready to eat in about 45 days. If they grow it, they it they will eat it!

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SNAP-Ed Program

healthy foodSusan Beeman, RD of the SNAP-Ed Healthy Aging Program, and Erica Benvenuti RD of the SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) /EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program), housed in the Norwich Extension Office participated in the holiday distributions sponsored by Groton Health & Human Services in southeastern Connecticut. They provided nutrition information and cooking demonstrations at two different events in November and December reaching over four hundred low-income families at Thanksgiving and five hundred at Christmas.

Informational materials on how to thaw, cook, stuff and store a turkey were distributed in English & Spanish and recipes were provided. Tastings of turkey chili and pumpkin bread were distributed in November and in December chicken quesadillas, and gingerbread were sampled.