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Wilburn: Extension program stirs up food, fun and education

POSTED: July 20, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Good, basic nutrition doesn't have to be a mystery.

In fact, there's a free program offering a wealth of nutrition information for adults, teens and children right here through the Hall County Cooperative Extension. For more than 30 years, the University of Georgia Expanded Food and Nutrition Program has been providing a variety of tools and ideas to help limited-income families.

Wouldn't you agree that a limited budget can add to the stress of meal planning? Adults enrolled in UGA's Expanded Food and Nutrition Program learn how to:

  • Plan low-cost, nutritious meals
  • Prepare quick and healthy meals and snacks
  • Shop for the best food buys
  • Keep foods safe to eat
  • Eat right and light to control sugar, salt, fat and calories

The federally funded program, conducted through the Cooperative Extension, is in every state and U.S. territory. Expanded Food and nutrition Program class members learn how to create a healthy, delicious and satisfying meal from just a few ingredients.

They can sample recipes such as "Turkey and Curly From Noodles," "Zesty Black-Eyed Pea Salad" and "Easy Low-Fat Fruit Dip." Students can start a recipe collection plus receive informative handouts on a wide range of topics.

Area youth, regardless of their economic background, can take advantage of the program benefits. Recently, about 50 Family and Consumer Sciences/Early Childhood Development students in Karen Jackson's classes at Gainesville High School received their official UGA certificates for completing the program.

They learned a variety of things such as correct serving sizes, how to read food labels and how to properly store leftovers. Students' surveys indicate that they are making healthier food choices especially when it comes to soft drinks and fast food.

Classes are available for area pre-school, Pre-K and school age youth through:

  • Pre-school day care center programs
  • School-based classes
  • After-school community classes
  • Summer workshops and day camps

This program is very valuable to our community. Why? Expanded Food and Nutrition Program classes are free and they include hands-on activities plus recipes. For every $1 spent on the program, $10.64 is saved in future health care costs, program reports show.

A special curriculum is available for teen parents who are in need of nutritional information. The program's education focuses on helping parents provide a good healthy foundation for their children. Lessons cover a number of topics such as feeding infants and toddlers and food safety.

Are you crunched for time? No problem. Personalized in-home demonstrations and individual or small group instruction are available.

For more information, contact Expanded Food and Nutrition Program nutrition educator Sandra Stringer at the Hall County Extension office at 770-535-8290 or stringer@uga.edu.

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Contact: 770-535-8290.



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