LSU AgCenter receives grant to expand nutrition outreach in central La.

Karol Osborne  |  11/16/2018 3:45:00 PM

(11/16/18) ALEXANDRIA, La. — The LSU AgCenter Rapides Parish nutrition program is gearing up to increase opportunities for cooking skills trainings and nutrition workshops after receiving a $25,000 grant from Aetna Better Health of Louisiana.

“We will be able to serve a larger audience by offering more cooking camps for kids and nutrition and cooking skills trainings for adults, expanding our reach over the next year,” said AgCenter nutrition specialist Denise Holston.

The education provided through programs such as the cooking skills training help reinforce the nutritional choices that lead to making healthier decisions, said Aetna Better Health of Louisiana CEO Rick Born.

“This is one cog in the wheel,” Born said, adding that 60 percent of health is based on social determinants that include food and nutrition.

“It is important that people have the basic skills required to prepare a healthy meal and have confidence in those skills, so they can quickly, easily and safely prepare healthy meals at home without having to dine out where meals traditionally have higher calories, higher fat and sodium content, and are generally more expensive,” Holston said.

AgCenter regional nutrition coordinator Quincy Vidrine said the grant will focus on nutrition-based workshops and marketing for culinary and cooking educational outreach.

“For the past three years, the need for more basic cooking workshops for youth and adult audiences has been the No. 1 concern in our nutrition advisory meetings in Rapides Parish,” Vidrine said.

Funds will also be used to renovate the kitchen area at the DeWitt Livestock Show Facility educational center.

“This kitchen is where most of our KidChef, TeenChef and other workshops for adults and youth take place,” Vidrine said.

Upgrades will replace outdated appliances, improve cooking stations and provide for smoother operations, she said.

“Increasing our capacity by improving our facilities allows us to reach more audiences with a more cutting-edge approach to teaching cooking skills,” Holston said.

“The improvements will not only help us meet a critical need in nutrition programming, but will also support multiple outreach efforts in this area,” said AgCenter regional director Tara Smith.

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Aetna Better Health of Louisiana CEO Rick Born (center) presents a $25,000 check to the LSU AgCenter Rapides Parish nutrition program to support culinary and cooking skills trainings for youth and adults and fund needed renovations to the DeWitt Livestock Show Facility educational center. Also pictured from right are Tara Smith, AgCenter Central Region director; Denise Holston, AgCenter nutrition specialist; Quincy Vidrine, regional nutrition coordinator; Jessica Trepagnier, Aetna manager of community development and marketing; and Tina Griffith, Aetna healthcare equity director. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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