Natasha D. Pittman, Morgan, Johnny W. | 1/23/2009 9:40:09 PM
With nutrition-related diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer on the rise, the LSU AgCenter is developing ways to improve the eating habits of food stamp recipients.
Natasha Pittman, coordinator for the Family Nutrition Program (FNP) in the LSU AgCenter’s southeast region, uses technology to reach her audience more easily and effectively.
“There was a time when I would go to the various food stamp offices and try to present information to the clients as they waited to be called for their appointments,” Pittman said. “But this was a problem because I would very seldom get to finish my presentation.”
Some of the problems she encountered were crying babies and people being called in for their appointments, along with other distractions, she said.
“So I found what we call food stamp office resource kits,” she said. “They contain a 20-minute video, nutrition information brochures and bilingual recipe cards.”
The video is on a continuous loop, so people waiting in food stamp offices have an opportunity to see the video.
Pittman said people who participate in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – better known as the WIC Program – are required to receive nutrition education when they receive benefits, but food stamp recipients aren’t.
“The AgCenter’s FNP program has purchased these kits and is currently placing them in food stamp offices in Livingston, Washington, West Baton Rouge, Tangipahoa, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena and Iberville parishes,” she said.
Before the nutrition kits, Pittman said, “I would normally come in early before people began to get called for their appointments. But after a while I realized that I was competing with telephones ringing, babies crying, people being called back for their appointments and others talking. It wasn’t effective. It was almost like trying to teach a class in Wal-Mart.”
That’s when she contacted Richard Yager, manager of the Office of Family Support in Livingston and St. Helena parishes.
Yager said he was happy to have the kits in his offices because nutrition education is something most of his clients need.
“We have people in here who have full-time jobs but are not making ends meet and may be temporarily in the program, as well as elderly people who will permanently receive benefits,” Yager said. “In either case, we think these kits are very helpful in getting our clients to eat more nutritious foods.”
Yager said he believes that with better nutrition, people would feel better, do better on the job and stay on the job longer.
Pittman said the kit was developed by the California Department of Heath Services’ Nutrition Network for Healthy Active Families, the western regional office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service and other California agencies.
She explained this is a pilot program in her region.
“I’m hoping that eventually we can create a Louisiana version and expand the program not only throughout the FNP programs in the state but to other nutrition programs in the state as well,” Pittman said.
For further information on the LSU AgCenter’s Family Nutrition Program (FNP), call Pittman at (225) 686-3020 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Natasha Pittman at (225) 686-3020 or email@example.com
Writer: Johnny Morgan at (225) 578-8484 or firstname.lastname@example.org