4-H teens start new year with healthy living workshop

Tobie Blanchard  |  1/9/2019 3:14:06 PM

(01/09/19) BATON ROUGE, La. — At the start of a new year, many people resolve to eat more healthfully or spend more smartly. Teens on the Louisiana 4-H Food and Fitness Board gave up two remaining days of their holiday break to prepare for and put on a workshop aimed at giving people tools that will help them stick to their resolutions.

The 4-H Food Smart Families nutrition workshop was held Jan. 5 at the Open Health Clinic in Baton Rouge. A grant from UnitedHealthcare supports 4-H nutrition programming, including funding of this workshop, which was open to the public.

Dekota McGee, a 4-H’er from Sabine Parish, is chair of the Food and Fitness Board. She said the nutrition workshop included hands-on activities to engage families.

“We want to give them a new perspective on healthy living and how to improve their everyday lives,” she said.

Youngsters and their families who attended the event rotated through stations that included proper handwashing, food safety, food preparation skills, taste testing, food budgeting and information about the U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate national food guidance symbol based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Jessica Stroope, 4-H healthy living coordinator, said allowing the teens to put on the workshop accomplished several goals.

“The teens gain confidence in delivering nutrition content. They absorb it on a much deeper level if they deliver it, and kids will usually listen more to teens delivering nutrition education than to adults,” Stroope said.

In one of the stations, the youngsters went through smelling, touching, tasting and rating an assortment of fruits and vegetables.

“When you let kids rate something, they have more power. They are becoming a food critic of sorts,” Stroope said.

Six-year-old Ella Wesley held a blueberry in her hand. She wasn’t eager to eat it but liked the way it felt.

“I like the tomatoes better,” she said.

Lindsey Wesley said she brought her daughter to the event because it sounded like a fun way to create healthy habits.

“I hope she gets reinforcement for health eating. It can be struggle, so having fun events like this with hands-on activities helps,” Lindsey Wesley said.

Claire Zak, LSU AgCenter extension agent, talked to the families about food budgeting with three main points — make a plan, find foods at the best prices and stretch your food dollars.

Zak showed them the Spend Smart, Eat Smart app developed by Iowa State University Extension as a resource to plan and budget. She also said grocery store pickup apps have good tools, and the service can help you eat better.

“You can see the total before buying. You’ll likely make fewer unhealthy or expensive impulse purchases, and you don’t have to bring your kids into the store to shop,” Zak said.

She also recommended buying store brands, looking at unit prices and sizes to get the best value and buying only what your family will actually eat.

“There is no sense in planning a meal, even if it is cost effective, if they aren’t going to eat it,” she said.

The 4-H Food and Fitness Board puts on activities with 4-H throughout the year.

“It means a lot to me to help people from across Louisiana live healthier lives,” said 4-H’er Claire Carbalan, of Jefferson Davis Parish.

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Ella Wesley and Violet Stroope, both 6, create bracelets with beads that represent different food groups and the amount of recommended servings per day for each group. They were at a 4-H Food Smart Families nutrition workshop held Jan. 5 at the Open Health Clinic in Baton Rouge aimed at helping youngsters and their families live more healthfully. Photo by Tobie Blanchard/LSU AgCenter

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Claire Carbalan and Ally Mills, 4-H Food and Fitness Board members, demonstrate how to safely peel carrots during a 4-H Food Smart Families nutrition workshop held Jan. 5 at the Open Health Clinic in Baton Rouge. Photo by Tobie Blanchard/LSU AgCenter

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Claire Zak, LSU AgCenter extension agent from East Baton Rouge Parish, talks about the MyPlate nutrition guide at the 4-H Food Smart Families nutrition workshop held Jan. 5 at the Open Health Clinic in Baton Rouge. Photo by Tobie Blanchard/LSU AgCenter

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