Northeast Region Newsletter, August 2022

Quincy Vidrine, Thornton, Amy, Seay, Brittney, Sims, Joy K, Butcher, Kimberly, Gouge, Ana-Alicia, Agan, Cathy B., Stevens, Cecilia

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Easing Into the School Routine: Better Mornings and Fewer Power Struggles

by Ana Gouge

As summer ends and school begins, routines will inevitably be changing. Easing your child into their school routine can be beneficial for both you and your child.

Take time before the end of summer by practicing getting up with alarm clocks at a reasonable time, completing your 'get ready' routine with them - including breakfast! Work with your child by challenging them to 'timed races' and encourage improving their time.

Visual charts may also be helpful and can reduce your need to go through a "did you do X, Y, and Z?" question game. Have your child check off the list in a preferred order to help 'remind' them to complete all steps. Keep the chart simple - include the necessities without making the routine an overwhelming chore. Older children may do well with simply a written checklist on the back of their bedroom door or on the mirror in the bathroom. Young children do well with images or photos posted at their height so they can picture themselves completing each step of the routine.

Utilize the night before in an efficient way. Have bags packed, allow your child to choose school clothes, remind them what will be for breakfast, and bathe the night before. Time if crucial in the morning when it seems like every minute counts.

Reducing morning time power struggles sets a good day for your child. Sending them to school in a positive mood boosts confidence and positive behavior in school! Establishing an independent morning routine also fosters great self-help skills as well as personal responsibility.

Also remember to provide encouragement and reinforcement for your child! A simple "I noticed you put your shoes on and put your bowl in the sink! That is so helpful, thank you!" Gratitude, no matter how small, is a currency.

Enhance Learning with School Gardening

by Cathy Agan

Growing a school garden can be challenging and exciting at the same time. It is so rewarding to watch a seed turn into a fruit, vegetable, or flower! School gardens provide opportunities for students to learn about agriculture and where their food originates. Gardening can also be used to teach life skills such as responsibility, teamwork, and art. Literature, math, and science can all be taught in the garden. Gardening also provides opportunities to learn about healthy foods and provide an outlet for physical activity.

School gardens provide children with a space to touch, see, hear, taste, and smell as they use their senses while learning. Even if you don't have an outdoor space to house a school garden, many gardening activities can be done in your classroom. Hands-on learning experiences are part of what makes learning by gardening so impactful. Kids are more likely to try fruits and vegetables they have grown themselves. Incorporating taste testing into school garden sessions can provide children with the opportunity to try new foods and develop healthy eating habits. Healthy children are more ready to learn, so the benefits of good health are far reaching.

Did you know that the LSU AgCenter has information on school gardens available online? Head over to and search for school gardens. You will find newsletters, funding opportunities, gardening project ideas, and publications there. The Louisiana Farm to School Program also has great resources for school gardening programs. The Harvest of the Month program includes ready-to-go materials for use in your classroom or school cafeteria. You can even find funding resources for school gardening grant opportunities. You can find out more by visiting their website at

Whether you garden in your classroom, utilize raised beds, or have a full-scale school garden, your kids will be learning loads and having fun. Contact your local LSU AgCenter Extension office to invite an Extension Agent to visit your classes or provide guidance for your garden.

Geaux Shop Healthy When Selecting Back to School Snacks

by Cecilia Stevens

(Winnsboro, LA) Kids are heading back to school while parents are headed to local supermarkets to select ingredients for lunchbox meals and after-school snacks. Geaux Shop Healthy is a new LSU AgCenter program that can make planning meals and snacks for your students easier and heathier.

The Geaux Shop Healthy program supports retailers by providing signage, recipes, and promotional materials to help consumers make healthy shopping choices. As a consumer, look for the Geaux Shop Healthy logo and signs identifying healthy options available at your local grocer. For a healthier lunchbox and after-school snacking, families can Geaux Shop Healthy by focusing on items low in added sugar, sodium, and fat. Fruits and vegetables are great selections. These are ideally served fresh, but canned and frozen options can also be healthy choices if canned in water or natural juices. Peel and pre-cut fresh produce to make eating neater and faster. Adding a healthy dip rounds out a fun snack or lunchtime meal.

Recipes featuring fresh Louisiana produce are a great way Geaux Shop Healthy by incorporating seasonal produce into meal planning for your student. Visit the LSU AgCenter's Recipes - Seeds to Success for recipe ideas and then Geaux Shop Healthy to get your student off to a great school start. For information on starting a Geaux Shop Healthy intervention in your community, contact your local LSU AgCenter Extension office.

Growing Healthy Communities through HYPE

by Joy Sims

No matter the class, race, education level, age, etc. - Healthy Communities start with the people. Being able to acknowledge the barriers, utilize available assets, and work together to make your community a better place are all the steps that most adults are aware of that make change, but a wonderful thing can happen when you invite the youth to the table. In working with adult and youth coalitions, I've learned that while the barriers may seem the same, the perspectives can be very different. Youth voice is a powerful tool in any community because you are not only showing the next generation of leaders how to step up, you are also getting key input from a group that's often overlooked and giving them the confidence to become the leaders we need for years to come.

In 2012, the original HYPE (Healthy Young People Empowerment) Project guide was produced for the Healthy South Carolina Initiative by the South Carolina Eat More More Coalition in partnership with South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health. In many parishes in northeast region, we have adapted these teachings to build youth coalitions focused of making long-term changes in their communities. Check out this great activity from the H.Y.P.E. project that you can use to encourage young leaders to get involved in the advancement of health and wellness of their community! Have the youth respond to the following questions:

  • What enables me to or prevents me from eating healthy each day?
  • What enables people in my community to or prevents them from eating healthy each day?
  • What enables me to or prevents me from being physically activity each day?
  • What enables people in my community to or prevents them from being physically active each day?

Adapt these questions for younger students by asking questions like "do you think it's easy for you/your friends to get healthy food where we live?' or "do you think you/your classmates have a lot of places to play where we live?" instead. Talk about the results of these questions together and ask what community changes they would make to address these barriers!

We "greaux" healthy communities by not only learning about long-term sustainable change ourselves, but by guiding the next generation as well. Connect with your local LSU AgCenter to find out if there is an active H.Y.P.E. Program in your community.

Healthy Recipe Box: Easy Healthy Taco Salad with Ground Turkey

by Brittany Newsome


  • 1/2 large container greens salad mix
  • 14 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 medium avocados, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tortilla chips, crushed
  • 1/2 cup any hard cheese, shredded
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp onion powder/flakes
  • 2 cups corn, cooked or thawed
  • 1/2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, not Greek
  • 1/4 tsp salt or to taste


In a large salad bowl, add salad greens, beans, tomatoes, avocados, tortilla chips and cheese. Set aside. 2. Preheat large ceramic non-stick skillet on medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add turkey and cook for 5 minutes, constantly breaking into small pieces with spatula. Add 1 tbsp taco seasoning and onion flakes; cook for another 2 minutes, stirring a few times. Transfer to a salad bowl with other ingredients. Return skillet to medium heat and add corn. Cook for a few minutes undisturbed, sprinkle with 1/2 tbsp taco seasoning, stir and cook for another minute. Transfer to a bowl. Drizzle yogurt on top and gently toss. Adjust salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Recipe sources: https://www.eazypeazymealz/com/italian-chicken-meal-prep-bowls/

Healthy Recipe Box: Italian Chicken Meal Prep Bowls

by Brittany Newsome


  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 2 tsp marjoram
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized-pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic minced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2-4 cups cooked riced of choice (optional)


Pre-heat oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. In a small bowl, mix salt, pepper, basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and paprika. Place the chicken and veggies in the baking dish. Sprinkle all the spices and garlic evenly over the chicken and veggies. Drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked, and veggies are slightly charred. Broil 1-2 minutes to brown chicken. Place 1/2 or 1 cup of cooked rice of choice into 4 individual meal prep containers. Divide chicken and veggies evenly on top of the rice. Cover and store in the fridge for 3-5 days or serve for dinner!

Total Prep and Cook time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4


Catahoula/Concordia Parishes, Ana Gouge, (318)414-6055
East Carroll/Morehouse Parishes, Jocinda Jackson, (318)559-1459
Franklin Parish/Caldwell Parishes/FCS Regional Coordinator, Quincy Vidrine, (318)435-2903
CDC Food Systems Coordinator, Cecilia Stevens, (318)435-2908
Madison/Tensas Parishes, Joy Sims, (318)574-2465
Ouachita Parish, Cathy Agan, (318)323-2251
Ouachita/Morehouse Parishes, Kimberly Butcher, (318)323-2251
Ouachita/Union Parishes, Markaye Russell, (318)323-2251
Richland/West Carroll Parishes, Brittney Newsome, (318)281-5741

For the latest research-based information on just about anything, visit our website:
Matt Lee, Interim Vice-President for Agriculture
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, LSU College of Agriculture
The LSU AgCenter and LSU provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.

If you need an ADA accommodation for your participation, please contact Quincy Vidrine at least two weeks prior to the event.

Pack a Healthy Lunch for the Whole Bunch

by Kimberly Butcher

August is officially here and that means that the start of the new school year is right around the corner! The time is approaching to start thinking about packing not only work lunches but also school lunches again. By packing healthy lunches for the whole family, you can not only help your family live a healthier lifestyle you will also save your household money! The goal is to make sure that you are providing a balanced, healthy meal and that everyone is receiving the necessary nutrients they need. Packing lunches does not have to be complicated or time consuming. By following these simple tips, you can easily make a healthy lunch for the school day and workday for your whole family.

Do not forget to practice food safety when packing lunches. Perishable items need to remain cold. Reusable ice packs and a good, insulated lunchbox are great at keeping foods cold for an extended period of time. To keep drinks cold, try freezing them the night before and packing them in the morning. By lunchtime the drinks will thaw enough to enjoy them! Tips provided by

  • Leftovers, no extra cooking required. The easiest lunch to pack is leftovers from dinner the night before. To make it work, be sure to plan for enough servings to cover dinner and lunch the next day.
  • Sandwiches, a classic for a reason. Sandwiches are so easy to pack and are fairly affordable options. Instead of chips, pair sandwiches with veggies or fruit as sides. These can be prepped ahead of time in individual servings to grab quickly throughout the week.
  • Build Your Own MyPlate, guaranteed to make a balanced meal. Bento box lunches are trendy these days. And they're surprisingly healthy and way easier to pack than you think. Pack a serving of each of MyPlate's food groups, put in a divided container and violĂ , bento box lunch!
  • Smoothies and snacks, a healthy treat. Smoothies can be good ways for kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. Pack in a thermos to keep cold until lunch. Pair smoothies with a few other snack items to round out the meal, keeping MyPlate in mind.
  • Get the kids involved. Encourage kids to get involved in the packing process with foods that they like too! Kids are often more likely to eat their lunch if they have picked the foods out themselves. Plus, if they see you packing a nutritious lunch, they will be more likely to do the same.

Upcoming Events

Smart Portions Series Richland Parish:
August 4th, 2022 from 12PM-1:30PM at the Richland Parish Extension Office, Contact Brittney Newsome for more intormation.
Rayville Elementary Back to School Bash and Resource Fair Richland Parish
August 5th, 2022 from 9AM to 11AM. Contact Brittney Newsome for more information
Playstreets Richland Parish:
August 9th, 2022 118 Cotton Street from 10AM to 3PM. Contact Brittney Newsome for more information.
Delhi Community Health Center Back to School Block Party Richland Parish
August 12th, 2022 at 501 Broadway Street from 9AM to 12PM. Contact Brittney Newsome for more information.
West Carroll Parish - Currency Bank Back to School Bash West Carroll Parish:
August 16th, 2022 at the Downtown Courtyard from 5PM to 8PM. Contact Brittney Newsome for more information.
Richland Parish Healthy Communities Coalition Meeting Richland Parish:
August 23, 2022 at Delhi Community, 209 Broadway Street at 5PM. Contact Brittney Newsome for more information.
Family Meal Prep Made Easy Workshop West Carroll Parish:
On August 25, 2022 at the LSU AgCenter 195-A Community Road, Oak Grove from 5PM-7PM. Contact Brittney Newsome for more information.
Home Food Preservation Training Franklin Parish:
Please contact Quincy L. Vidrine at 318-623-5217 for more information.
Work-Out Wednesdays (virtual) Ouachita Parish:
Please contact Cathy Agan for more information.
Health Resource Expo 2022 (in-person) Franklin Parish:
On September 28, 2022 from 10AM to 2PM, the Jack Hammond community center in Winnsboro is hosting a health resource expo. Contact Quincy Vidrine for more information.
MAD H.Y.P.E. Youth Coalition (MYC) Leadership Training Madison Parish:
August 13th, 2022 in Tallulah. Contact Joy Sims for more information.
Healthy Communities Coalition Meeting Madison Parish:
August 16th, 2022. Contact Joy Sims for more information.
No Guns, Know God Community Rally Event (MYC will volunteer) Madison Parish:
August 20th, 2022. Contact Joy Sims for more information.
Tensas Parish Healthy Communities Coalition Meeting Tensas Parish:
August 24th, 2022. Contact Joy Sims for more information.
MAD H.Y.P.E. Youth Coalition Regular Meeting Madison Parish:
August 31st, 2022. Contact Joy Sims for more information.

8/15/2022 5:52:45 PM
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