Lifelong Health and Fitness
Dina Howard leads 4th grade students at Willard North Elementary School in Willard, Mo. through a study of vegetables.
The study was part of a University of Missouri Extension nutrition class conducted by a Greene County Extension Nutrition Educator.
University of Missouri Extension Family Nutrition Education Programs (FNEP) reached 41,200 low-income participants with direct nutrition education in Greene County during 2012.
The goal of direct teaching in FNEP is to conduct an average of six classes with each client, to promote behavioral change. A significant number of Greene County residents (44,981) also participated in these Extension programs through indirect teaching methods at venues like food pantries and school and community health fairs.
Nutrition education for youth provides information in kid-friendly terms and lessons with hands-on activities. Activities include opportunities for taste-testing healthy foods and practicing skills that lead to good health. Education for adults includes nutrition, food safety, physical activity, and food resource management.
"FNEP reached Greene County youth and adults by partnering with Greene County schools, community groups and agencies," said Pam Duitsman, nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
Programs offered in the county during 2012 included a variety of curricula, methods and tools that provide programming specific to a client's needs considering age, culture, reading level and abilities; supports Missouri's School Wellness Policies; and aligns with the Department of Education's (DESE) grade level expectations.
"Our lessons with hands-on activities are designed for youth and the adults that support them, pregnant teens, and immigrant populations," said Duitsman.
School nutrition efforts included a variety of in-school programs, educational displays, handouts for teachers and handouts that are taken home for the entire family.
"Evaluation data collected across the state reflects the positive impacts that occur in every county with FNEP," said Duitsman. "Our statewide research shows positive impacts with youth in areas like nutrition awareness, making healthier food choices, willingness to try new foods, and increased physical activity."
Adults who participate in FNEP show improvements in eating more vegetables and fruits, exercising more, planning meals ahead of time, and making healthy food choices for the family.
The goal of FNEP is to assist Missourians with limited resources in achieving lifelong health and fitness. In southwest Missouri, programs for youth and adults provide nutrition, food safety and tasting opportunities that allow participants to learn about healthy food choices and regular physical activity. Partnering with other agencies — like schools, after-school programs, summer youth programs, WIC, Head Start, health departments, Food Stamp offices and other social service agencies providing services to limited-income families — is a key to FNEP's success.