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Making Nutrition Fun

It’s often more fun doing things in a group and learning about nutrition is no different. Extension nutrition educator, Sara Ward, teamed with community organizations and other staff to keep the focus on nutritious eating this summer.

The variety of summer produce can be overwhelming and at times unfamiliar leading people to fall back on limited food choices. Eating a variety of colored vegetables helps people get the vitamins and antioxidants they need to stay healthy.

This is one of the lessons low income residents of Hope Communities learned in three classes on vegetables, fruits and grains. The ‘Strive” summer program for 8 to 14 year olds gave refugee youth from Burma, Thailand and a variety of African countries a chance to experience new foods and encouraged them to share the exercise message they learned in class with their siblings.

“Taste your words” is a good way to describe the experience of developmentally disabled adults and youth involved in three classes at Hope Center’s summer day camp. Ward and 4-H agent, Ken Grimes, provided acidic, salty, bitter and sweet foods for participants to map their tongues. They were then asked to find something they liked about the texture and color of a vegetable chosen from many provided and write about it in a booklet. By tasting their words, they became more familiar with and accepting of new vegetable choices.

Cultural heritage can have a strong influence on the foods we eat and the way we prepare them. Latina women at Focus Points Family Resource Center experienced new vegetables from growing to including them in meals as part of the class. Teaming with staff horticulturist, Carl Wilson, the four classes taught lessons in how to grow vegetables in their community garden followed by demonstrations on how to prepare their harvest. Tasting kale and eggplant was new to many.

Providing opportunities to experience vegetables prepared in healthy ways while keeping it fun encourages people to repeat the experience. That’s how healthy dietary changes start and what the FAN Ed nutrition education program is all about.

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Updated Saturday, September 25, 2010