Students promote healthy eating
Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 04:09
Graduate student Sarah Bercaw spent her summer making ice cream in plastic bags, while children aged 8 to 12 learned to cook and scrambled through a food pyramid relay.
All of those activities were designed to educate low-income families about the importance and availability of nutritious foods, with the assistance of the university's Cooperative Extension Program.
The two courses, called Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, are both entirely funded by the federal government.
Bercaw, a 2011 alum, was offered the summer position as an instructor for the EFNEP program after she applied for a nutrition-related job through the university. The focus of her instruction was the importance of calcium for children. Her position will extend throughout the year.
"As a fun activity for the kids to be involved in, they made ice-cream in plastic bags," Bercaw said.
EFNEP, which began in 1969, is currently offered in every state and specifically targets families with young children, according to Sue Snider, Cooperative Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist at the university.
Snider said the programs mirror the initiative of the Let's Move! program launched by Michelle Obama in 2010. The courses target nutritional priorities for children. The Let's Move! program, like those held at the university, offers basic tools to educate parents and children about fitness and healthy nutrition. The EFNEP and SNAP-ED programs differentiate themselves, however, by specifically targeting low income families, Snider said.
Snider said both university employees and nutrition assistants teach the EFNEP and SNAP-ED programs. Delaware, the last state to receive SNAP-ED funds, has recently made the programs available throughout the state this past summer. The university is entirely responsible for teaching those courses held in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
"The program encourages families to increase the consumption of fruit, vegetables, and dairy products," Snider said.
Junior Zaynah Henry, a health behavior science major, worked with the children whom attended the EFNEP courses this summer.
"Each snack time, the instructors would ask the children which food group components were in each snack item," Henry said. "We try to instill knowledge of the nutritious foods."
Snider said that the university's programs have had a good record of success so far. Bercaw feels positively about her experience as well.
"Having this opportunity was fun," said Bercaw. "It's a lot of work, but it's worth it."