nutrition

Teen Mentors Attend National 4-H Congress

4-H Congress group
Photo caption:  Top Row: Kirsten Krause, Alea Pettengill, Susan Dearborn and Paul Rouleau. Bottom Row: Victoria Footit, Jessica Roberts, Ciara Broggy, Yanis Aracena

CT 4-H FANs IM Teen Mentors, and Danbury High School seniors, Ciara Broggy and Yanis Aracena, were selected to participate in the National 4-H Congress held in Atlanta, Georgia, November 27th through December 1, 2015. Both attendees were required to submit an application and attend an interview. While at the National 4-H Congress, they enjoyed many activities including lectures, a dinner dance, interactive workshops, a tour of the Atlanta History Center and Atlanta Aquarium, as well as collaborative projects with other 4-H participants that included community outreach.

Both students found the event to be life changing. “My experience at National 4-H Congress has allowed me to gain a better understanding of cultural diversity,” Ciara says. “Throughout the week I had the chance to meet and talk with other 4-Hers from throughout the United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. I discovered that my focus on fitness, nutrition and gardening is very different from that of other 4-H participants. For example, I met 4-Hers who, participate in singing competitions, cattle showings and gymnastics. Despite these differences, we all still share a central bond within our 4-H community.”

Ciara and Yanis joined CT FANs IM as Teen Mentors at Shelter Rock Elementary School. They work with younger students in activities centered on fitness, nutrition and gardening.

“This opportunity has not only been a learning experience for the youth, but also myself,” Ciara says. “I have developed a deeper understanding about what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. The three branches of my 4-H program have become a part of my every day life. I strive to live a healthier lifestyle both physically and nutritionally. In addition, my leadership and speaking skills have increased dramatically through working with the youth. This has been a truly gratifying experience and has contributed largely to my self-confidence. I look forward to expanding my involvement in 4-H.”

Yanis agrees that her experience as a Teen Mentor has been an extremely valuable experience. “Working with CT FANs IM has helped me develop skills I did not have or was not confident in,” she says. “I feel much more confident with being able to speak in front of an audience, I have learned to enjoy working in a group, rather than by myself, and lastly I have gained valuable leadership skills. I hope to continue my involvement in 4-H.”

The students both plan to attend college. Ciara hopes to be accepted into UConn’s nursing program for the fall 2016 semester, while Yanis has not yet chosen a major, and is considering several colleges.

Make the Holidays Healthy

Heather at Daily Bread

Extension educator Heather Peracchio was at Daily Bread food pantry in Danbury yesterday. She was providing clients with healthy eating tips during the holidays and food safety information. For 10 tips on Making Healthy Holiday choices, visit:
http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-make-healthier-holida…

Eat Smart Live Strong

Heather-Elmwood Senior CenterUConn Extension’s SNAP-Ed Food Security partnered with Elmwood Senior Center in Danbury to offer the USDA Eat Smart Live Strong program this summer. Programs are led by Heather Peracchio, Extension Educator and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.  Seniors are provided  $15 vouchers towards fresh produce and round-trip transportation to the Farmers Market twice per month thanks to a Buck Foundation grant given to the Danbury Farmers Market Community Collaborative. The program aims to increase seniors fruit and vegetable consumption, daily physical activity and increase access to the farmers market. Heather is pictured with the bulletin board that has been placed at Elmwood Senior Center to promote the program and use of the Danbury Farmers Market this summer at Kennedy Park. Each class includes USDA Eat Smart Live Strong program materials, an interactive nutrition class and a cooking demonstration.

 

Making Soup

Minestrone soup

At St. Luke’s food pantry in Bridgeport UConn Extension reaches SNAP recipients with healthy eating tips and recipes. Heather Peracchio made minestrone soup with attendees. Canned vegetables are best for our health when labeled “no salt added,” or if you have regular or reduced sodium rinsing and draining the veggies or beans can help to remove up to 40% of the sodium. Here is the recipe.

 

Meal Preparation for Infants

UConnExtension’s Heather Pease worked with students at the New Britain CREC Medical Professions and Teacher Preparation Academy to make meals for children ages 6-months to 12-months. Some food groups are not represented because they did not have access to all food groups. The focus was on portion and texture of mainly vegetables, fruit and cereal. They also learned how to make formula and the importance of measuring. A special thank you to teacher Julia Porter for all of her efforts on this.

meal for 7-8 month old

 

See RED on Valentine’s Day

By Alice Henneman, MS, RDN

Nebraska Extension Educator

 

red heartSee “Red” on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year. Red fruits and vegetables contain many health-promoting phytochemicals including lycopene and anthocyanins. This color group may help promote:

  • A lower risk of some cancers
  • A healthy heart
  • Memory health
  • Urinary tract health

Red fruits and vegetables include: Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, tomato juice, red peppers, red onions, beets, red cabbage, kidney beans, apples, pink grapefruit, red grapes, strawberries, cherries, watermelon, raspberries, cranberries and pomegranates. Some “red” ideas for Valentine’s Day (or any day!) include:

– Heart-shaped pizza. Shape pizza dough into a heart. Or, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make individual hearts from pizza dough. Spread with your favorite tomato pizza sauce. Add your choice of toppings.

– Pasta with tomato sauce. For added fun, serve heart-shaped pasta — check with stores offering specialty pasta shapes or order some online. Check delivery time if you order online.

– Add a few of those tiny red-hot cinnamon heart candies to a popcorn snack

– Tossed salad with such red additions as red bell peppers, cherry or grape tomatoes

– Make a polka-dotted open-faced peanut butter sandwich. Cut bread into a heart shape, spread with peanut butter and dot with dried cranberries. Or, make a smiley face with the dried cranberries. Another idea would be to purchase some heart-shaped crackers, if available at your local store; substitute for the bread.

– Cole slaw made with such red foods as red peppers, red onions, and apples or made with red cabbage Cranberry sauce — use that bag of cranberries in your freezer that you bought when they were on sale

– Oatmeal topped with a heart shape, made with dried cranberries or dried cherries

– Raspberry smoothie — Put 3/4 to 1 cup vanilla-flavored yogurt in a blender. Add a few tablespoons of frozen raspberries at a time; blend until desired consistency. After mixing — if desired — blend in 1 or more teaspoons of sugar or no calorie sweetener to taste.

– Pink/red grapefruit half topped with a sprinkle of brown sugar

– Red grapes as a side dish to your sandwich for noontime nibbling

Garden Programs in Fairfield County

Originally published by Naturally@UConn on December 16, 2014

Written by: Kim Markesich

Fairfield County gardening programs teach nutrition, integrated pest management and life skills

The Fairfield County Extension Center Demonstration Garden

The Fairfield County Extension Center Demonstration Garden

The Fairfield County Extension Center hosts a variety of gardening programs, and the season just past was a successful and bountiful one.

With the support of a five-year grant from USDA/NIFA’s Children,  Family, and Youth at Risk Program (CYFAR), Edith Valiquette, 4-H youth development educator, coordinates an urban 4-H garden program for sixth through eighth grade students at Barnum Elementary School in Bridgeport. German Cutz, associate extension educator, serves as principal investigator for the grant.

Students attend the program four hours each week during the school year and eight hours a week during the summer. The curriculum focuses on gardening, workforce readiness and technology.

Students learn about nutrition, gardening and healthy meal preparation while working together as a group. They explore agriculture by visiting local farms and participate in community service projects. Students designed, filmed and edited videos to teach healthy eating and used these guides to mentor younger students. Students also participated in a Christmas program presented in nursing homes.

“The program allows kids to have fun while learning valuable skills such as leadership and life skills,” says Valiquette. “The program brings these 4-H opportunities to urban neighborhoods.”

 

The group produced 2,000 pounds of vegetables in 24 raised beds. Their carrots won Best of Show at the Fairfield County 4-H Fair. A portion of the harvested produce is used for cooking classes, while the remainder is sent home with students to supplement family meals.

Read more…

Fighting the Good Food Fight

CONN. Farmers, UCONN FIGHTING THE GOOD FOOD FIGHT

By Jessica Griffin
On August 24, 2014

Clemson cucumbersAs processed foods loaded with fat, sugars and salt, become increasingly cheap and convenient for Americans, the fight to maintain health and nutrition becomes more and more relevant. In the spirit of spreading awareness for the importance of making good choices while purchasing food, a nutritional outreach program, one of many across Connecticut, is occurring through UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) and UConn Extension.

These outreach programs take place at Connecticut farmers’ markets in east Bridgeport and Danbury. The Farmers’ Market in Bridgeport is run in collaboration with Wholesome Wave, a national organization based in Bridgeport dedicated to increasing affordability and availability of fresh foods to Americans.

The Danbury Farmers’ Market is run by the Danbury Farmers’ Market Community Collaborative (DFMCC) “Better Health Through Better Food” initiative.

Heather Peracchio, a dietitian and UConn Masters in Allied Health Sciences ’08 alumna, has been working as an educator at farmers’ markets since 2006. At the farmers’ market, she gives out healthy recipes, answers questions and presents to the public about making the best nutritional choices.

Read more…

Eat Seasonally: Enjoy Nature’s “Fast Food”

628x471Originally Posted by Danbury News Times

Heather Peracchio of UConn Extension is a registered dietitian who lives in Brookfield. But she’s happy to travel if there’s a chance to spread the word about healthy eating.

This past Monday she gave two nutrition/cooking lessons, one in Bridgeport and one in Norwalk. Among her messages — the importance of eating seasonally.

“Eating seasonally is eating fresh produce found locally,” she said. “An example would be eating strawberries in June and blueberries in July.”

Peracchio said there are numerous benefits to eating seasonally. One is that you get to enjoy fruits and vegetables at their peak, when they offer the highest nutritional content. This helps support our bodies natural cleansing and healing abilities.

“And there’s an infinite variety, so there’s always something new to try,” she said.

Read more…

4-H FANs IM Success Stories

4-H FANs logoConnecticut Fitness and Nutrition Clubs In Motion (CT FANs IM), is a 4-H Afterschool program designed to reduce obesity rates in children ages 9 to 14, through sustainable interventions surrounding food and fitness. The program is a collaboration between the UConn Extension, and the Department of Kinesiology. CT FANs IM, was modeled after the original 4-H FANs Fitness and Nutrition Clubs, a USDA Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Program. Here are some of their recent success stories.

 

Teen Mentor Gains Real World Experience

 

NajeiaNajeia served as a 4-H FANs teen mentor during the summer of 2010 and 2011. She is currently a senior at Tufts University, majoring in community health and American studies, with a minor in sociology.

 

“I really enjoyed working with the youth in the 4-H FANs program,” Najeia says. “I applied for the program through Youth@Work, and I was thankful to be matched with a health promotion program. It was helpful to me, as it provided a real world experience, and allowed me to take a leadership role while learning many new skills.”

 

Originally, Najeia was interested in becoming a physician, but through her studies, she has focused on public health. Upon graduation, she plans to work in the field for a few years before pursuing a Master’s degree in public health. She hopes to become a director in a community health organization, where she plans to focus on promoting health equity; in particular, breaking down social barriers that are targeted at marginalized communities.

 

“I’d like to work with kids in some capacity when I’m in the field,” Najeia says. “As a public health professional, I would like to initiate programs for youth and follow the 4-H FANs model, where youth disseminate health promotion information within the community.”

 

Najeia is quick to point out that while being a 4-H FANs teen mentor was a good experience, she also had a lot of fun. “I really enjoyed my time there. Particularly when we introduced dance to the kids as a way to exercise. They loved it. Especially the cha cha slide!”

 

4-H FANs IM Summer Garden

 

FANs gardenGrowing vegetables was a big hit with the students participating in the 4-H FANs IM Summer Program at Roger Sherman School. Amy Sandoval, UConn Extension Public Service Specialist notes, “Youth were so excited when they noticed veggies growing. They would say, ‘Oh, my babies, they are growing!'”

 

Teen Mentor Attends UConn

 

Fontaine joined the New Haven 4-H FANs program during the summer leading into her junior year of high school. She continued working as a teen facilitator throughout her junior and senior year.

 

“I love working with kids,” Fontaine says. “Our mission was to make students aware of what they were eating, and encourage them to get moving and become more physically fit. The program also made me more conscious of how I was eating. I felt that as a role model, I had to lead by example.”

 

“Just to hear a child say, ‘I ate an apple today or I played outside,’ made me realize that my job meant something. It gave me a sense of fulfillment that I was doing something to benefit someone else.”

 

Fontaine grew up in the New Haven area, and was surprised to discover that 4-H programs existed in urban areas. As a teen facilitator with the 4-H FANs program, Fontaine attended the 4-H conference in Washington, D.C., a trip that Fontaine says gave her an opportunity to travel from home, and experience a completely different environment.

 

Currently, Fontaine is a student at UConn majoring in political science. She hopes one day to become an attorney. “I know I have a long way to go, but in due time, I will get there.”