10/1/2007 9:27:44 PM
Passion for the elderly and less fortunate is the driving force behind what keeps one LSU AgCenter agent excited about her work.
Celia Jackson, an assistant extension agent with the LSU AgCenter, spends most of her time meeting with groups and presenting information to help them make better decisions about nutrition.
Jackson, one of few registered dietitians with the LSU AgCenter, says a trend now is to have registered dieticians located across the state doing cooperative extension work.
After receiving her bachelor of science degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge with a concentration in food, nutrition and dietetics, she began preparing to become a registered dietician.
Part of the requirements for becoming a registered dietician includes having the candidates complete a yearlong internship that involves working with various agencies to get a feel for how dieticians work in the real world.
"As an intern, we developed food management skills, clinical skills, community skills and knowledge of how the LSU AgCenter’s Cooperative Extension Service works," Jackson said.
After completing the internship, Jackson was hired by the LSU AgCenter, where proper nutrition is at the forefront of her daily routine.
"I get really excited about nutrition education, especially showing people how to save money by planning menus and explaining how to use the food labels to help to make better food choices," Jackson said.
She said one of the biggest drawbacks to the elderly eating healthier meals is that they simply can’t afford them.
"Some of the people that I talk to during workshops say they want to eat healthy, but sometimes when the money is not there. They may have to consume incomplete meals during the week because they can’t afford foods to prepare complete meals," she said.
Jackson spends a large amount of time working with those who are food stamp eligible and food stamp recipients.
"When you think of someone on Social Security, they’re not making very much when you factor in the medicine and other expenses such as mortgage or rent. So it’s not easy to buy the most nutritious foods," she said.
"My area covers Pointe Coupee, Iberville and West Baton parishes, and I spend most of my time teaching people how to develop a proper diet to maximize nutritional value," she said.
"Being a parent myself, I know it’s sometimes hard to prepare complete meals for your family, but I have lessons to help busy parents out," she said.
One of the lessons she teaches is on fast food. She said she’s not telling them not to go out and eat it, but she is telling them to avoid it if possible. And even if they eat fast food, try to make the healthiest choice available.
"I try to let them know that you can’t eat fast food every day and not see the effects from it," she said.
Jackson is also starting a newsletter in her parishes that will involve quick meal ideas, information on budgeting and menu planning.
"Since we’re moving to more instant meals, I try to give participants recipes that can be prepared quickly without reducing the health benefits of that meal," she explained.
For additional information on ways to prepare quick, yet nutritious meals, contact Jackson at (225) 336-2416, or visit the LSU AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.