LSU AgCenter nutrition program looking to expand

Cathryn B. Robinson, Van Osdell, Mary Ann  |  1/14/2008 10:50:26 PM

New Release Distributed 01/14/08

The LSU AgCenter’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program is looking for new participants in Caddo and Bossier parishes.

This federally funded program, which got its start in 1969 with the national War on Poverty, is designed to enhance the quality of a family’s health.

“We are looking to increase our caseload,” said Cathryn Robinson, LSU AgCenter extension agent and coordinator of the program in the two parishes. “We served about 215 families in Caddo and Bossier last year.”

Participants are homemakers with children and limited resources. They can also be pregnant teens or someone responsible for providing meals for elderly parents. Benefits of the program have included fewer low-birth-weight babies, Robinson said.

Robinson supervises six nutrition educators who each can carry a caseload up to 100 families. These educators make home visits and teach groups at community sites, such as churches. Depending on the client, the length of time in the program can last anywhere from four months to a year.

Participants are taught daily meal planning, choosing the proper foods and snacks, food budgeting, food safety, and general health and fitness promotion to reduce the incidence of chronic diseases.

Robinson said participation results in improved diets, increased knowledge of nutrition, improved practices in food storage, preparation and safety, and increased ability to manage budgets and such related resources as food stamps.

“Nationally, it is estimated that every dollar invested in nutrition education results in more than $10 in future health care savings,” Robinson said.

Referrals are sometimes made to other assistance programs, she said.

“Better families make better communities,” Robinson said. “Healthier people have longer life spans and can be more independent. You can’t pay for good health. You have to build it from the inside out. There is nobody selling good health like EFNEP.”

A national program, EFNEP is also available in DeSoto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, Madison, Orleans, Richland, Tangipahoa, Washington and West Baton Rouge parishes in Louisiana.

For enrollment information, call Robinson at (318) 676-5900.

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Contact: Cathryn Robinson at (318) 676-5900, or cbrobinson@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Mary Ann Van Osdell at (318) 741-7430, ext. 1104, or mvanosdell@agcenter.lsu.edu

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