4-H, EFNEP combine exercise with healthy habits at youth programs

July 30, 2013 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Up for the Challenge teaches kids about healthy livingAs the result of a $2 million donation from the Walmart Foundation to expand the Walmart 4-H Youth Voice: Youth Choice program in Delaware and 20 other states, 4-H and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Cooperative Extension personnel and volunteers have teamed up to prove that they are “Up for the Challenge” when it comes to teaching healthy living habits to young Delawareans.

In Delaware, 3,000 youths will receive six hours of the Up for the Challenge: Lifetime Fitness, Healthy Decision curriculum delivered by Cooperative Extension staff and a cadre of teenagers. They have been trained to deliver the curriculum in afterschool programs, community centers, 4-H clubs and other sites.

The program, geared toward young people ages 8-12, will be implemented at all Delaware 4-H afterschool sites, including the seven Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) sites, all of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and EFNEP sites and Dover Air Force Base sites. These sites reach 2,000-plus youths.

Delaware has had a strong nutritional education presence through 4-H, EFNEP and SNAP-Ed but one of the things that makes Up for the Challenge unique is that it will be taught by both adult instructors and teen educators.

Sue Snider, coordinator of EFNEP, Cooperative Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor of animal and food sciences in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said of the program, “EFNEP nutrition assistants have conducted hands-on educational programs for low-income youth for years. What makes this summer’s classes awesome and special are the teens.”

“This particular topic is awesome because it’s the nutrition and the fitness,” said Karen Johnston, a UD Cooperative Extension agent of Up for the Challenge. “We’ve been doing a great job of using youth and adult educators in tobacco drug and alcohol prevention — we’ve done that throughout the state for a few years now and reached thousands of people. This is nice because now we have the nutrition and the fitness components, so that’s a really great collaboration.”

At Kirk Middle School in Newark, Del. — one of the New Castle County locations where the Up for the Challenge curriculum was being taught — EFNEP nutrition assistant Carmella Johnson was teaching participants about grains while also taking time to inform them about yoga. “It’s healthy eating incorporated with exercise,” said Johnson. “It’s a mixture of both throughout the day.”

Johnson said that the young people are taught about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, which is the new food pyramid, while also learning about things like portion control and reading labels on foods and drinks that they consume.

“A lot of them don’t really think about soda and sugary drinks as being calories,” said Johnson. “They’re drinking a lot of calories but they don’t see that, so we talked about reading labels. If you start reading your labels, you’ll see how many calories you drink and they do add up.”

Johnson added, “Many children just don’t know all the aspects of good nutrition or food preparation and that’s what’s nice about Up for the Challenge — it’s very hands on so the young person has an opportunity to not just learn the plate but also they actually make food in the class.”

Snider said that a 2011 Youth Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention noted that 43 percent of Delaware youth reported that they did not get 60 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week.

Johnston added that having instructors who are closer in age to the children — who teach the classes in conjunction with the adult instructors — helps the young people get excited about learning about healthy living practices. “That’s just so pivotal, having that experiential learning, and it’s memorable,” she said. “The kids are really responding to the youth presence as well as the adult presence in this hands-on activity.”

To learn more about Up for the Challenge, visit the website.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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Cooperative Extension teaches low-income Delawareans about healthy eating

August 24, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Low-income families in Delaware looking for healthier food options and ways to lower their grocery bills have friends in University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, which offers two free programs aimed at educating low-income families and individuals on how to make healthier food choices without breaking the bank.

Sue Snider, Cooperative Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor of animal and food sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said the two programs are the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-ED).

EFNEP “has been making a difference in the lives of families with young children since 1969″ and is “100 percent federally funded,” Snider said.

The nationwide program is available in all three counties of Delaware, with UD heading the programs in New Castle and Sussex counties and Delaware State University heading the program in Kent County.

Any low-income individual with children is eligible for the EFNEP program, and UD’s role is to provide trained paraprofessionals who teach people within specific communities about nutrition.

Snider said the paraprofessionals educate individuals on “the fruits, the vegetables, the grains, the dairy and the protein group that make up a healthy diet. We talk about how to select and prepare low-cost items that belong in each group, we talk about how to safely handle them, and we talk about why they’re important to include.”

EFNEP also includes a summer program, in which Extension Scholars and summer interns who have learned from nutrition assistants head to summer camps to teach children — mainly 8-12 year olds — the merits of eating healthy. This year, the theme was “Boning up on Health” and it focused on the importance of calcium and physical activity to prevent osteoporosis and broken bones.

“Part of EFNEP is to work with children of low-income families and in Delaware we have chosen to do this mainly in the summer through various camps,” said Snider.

SNAP-ED program

The second program run by Cooperative Extension is SNAP-ED, which is the new name for food stamps, and this program targets low-income individuals who are not eligible for EFNEP. This includes single people or older individuals who no longer have children living at home.

SNAP-ED is available in all three counties, and the curriculum is similar to that of EFNEP but tweaked to cater to the needs of individuals without children.

Snider stressed that both of these programs are free to anyone who is interested and are also available in Spanish.

The programs are set up by the Extension program’s nutrition assistants and are usually held in conjunction with various agencies, community centers, housing developments, churches and other groups that are working with low-income individuals.

“This is a program that I wish we could offer to everybody in Delaware,” Snider said. “I think that anybody who is low-income could certainly benefit and feel special that they have this opportunity to take part in this particular program. It really, really gets at the heart of health and wellbeing, and eating appropriately.”

In a state in which 28 percent of adults are obese, according to a July report by the Trust for America’s Health in cooperation with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the more information for Delawareans about healthier meals, the better.

Snider said that if there is a group or an organization that works with a low-income target population that is interested in the program, or if there are individuals interested in the program, they should contact their county extension office at 302- 831-2506 for New Castle County, 302-730-4000 for Kent County, or 302-856-7303 for Sussex County, or contact the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at 302-831-2524.

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Photo by Danielle Quigley

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