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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition education’

Nutrition Education in Windham County

By Dianisi Torres

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Photo: National Center for Home Food Preservation

This has been an exceptionally busy year for Nutrition Education. In addition to the EFNEP (Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program) being held at public schools and libraries including Windham, Moosup, Putnam, North Grosvenor Dale, and Killingly, the SNAP Ed program offers nutrition assistance to millions of low income families in need. The EFNEP educator works in collaboration with non-profit organizations as Cooking Matters offering nutrition and cooking workshops for adults which is taught in Spanish and English. Another non-profit program is CLiCK, Inc. located in Willimantic. EFNEP collaborates every year with CLiCK offering summer programs for children, youth and adult cooking classes using fresh vegetables from the CLiCK community garden that the Willimantic students have grown. We hope to offer even more programs in the coming year. For more information, contact Dianisi Torres at: dianisi.torres@uconn.edu

Healthy and Homemade Meals in Fairfield County

Healthy and homemade meals and seasonal vegetables were part of nutrition education outreach conducted by Extension educator Heather Peracchio in September. Heather works with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and is based in the Fairfield County Extension Center. She reports on her programming for September:

SNAP-Ed programs:

Nutrition outreach at the mobile pantry in Bethel on September 27th reached a record high 220 families. United Way suspects the great increase in numbers this month might be due to families being sent flyers home in school backpacks.

nutrition education healthy homemade mealA two-part series of nutrition classes were presented at the Veterans Affairs office in Bridgeport on September 6th and 13th. One class focused on sugar sweetened drinks and how to make healthier choices, participants taste tested a fresh fruit smoothie. The other class focused on budget-saving tips like making simple cook ahead meals. All participants received a 2018 calendar and taste tested a salad with homemade honey mustard dressing and a tamale pie, both recipes were featured in the Healthy and Homemade calendar from Iowa State Extension. Dietetic intern, Anna VanderLeest, assisted with both of these classes.

Eat Smart Live Strong at Elmwood Senior Center on Wednesday, September 20th reached 42 seniors; and New Hope church in Danbury on September 27th reached 28 seniors. Each class had the opportunity to taste test a kale salad with homemade honey mustard dressing. Each senior was encouraged to continue to follow the two key healthy behaviors from the series, eating at least 3.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day and participating in at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Each participant was given a 2018 Healthy and Homemade calendar as well.

SNAP-Ed participated in the Danbury Farmers market Saturday September 23rd. Participants learned all about seasonal vegetables including kale and apples. Extension educators Heather Peracchio and Juliana Restrepo-Marin offered an in-person food demonstration of a kale apple slaw. 30 participants attended the class offered on-site at the market. The next class is planned for Saturday October 14th.

This month Fairfield County Extension nutrition programs partnered with Western Connecticut Health Networks Dietetic Internship. Three dietetic interns from Danbury and Norwalk Hospital, Candido Gonzalez, Christian Aguilar and Angelina Campbell accompanied Heather to shadow and assist with programming on September 20th and September 27th.

EFNEP:

A new program combining fitness and nutrition with Extension educator German Cutz’s current 4-H soccer teams had a third class on Thursday, September 14th. Participants included 46 parents and children, where they learned about label reading and how to identify fat and sugar in common snack foods as part of the Choose Health: Fun, Food and Fitness curricula. There was a hands-on demonstration of an apple cinnamon yogurt tortilla snack where parents participated, and everyone taste tested. They also held a class Friday, October 6th.

Heather continues to coordinate with Danbury’s Morris Street School Family Resource Staff and a new EFNEP program at Morris Street School is planned Monday evenings beginning October 16th. Interested participants can contact Morris Street Family Resource Center to sign up.

Extension is a nationwide effort to give the public access to research-based information, scientific expertise, and educational programs they can use to enhance their everyday lives. UConn Extension, a program of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) works in all 169 towns of Connecticut with a network of over 100 educators and scientists. Over 2,900 volunteers leverage the ability of Extension to work in every community.

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

healthy snackIt 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.
making snackI 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

Heather with awards

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.

 

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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