Northeast Region Newsletter, August 2021

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Bodyweight Workouts

If you are like most Americans, you hate going to the gym. Everyone has their own reasons, but some of the most common are embarrassment, scheduling, and the fear of not knowing what to do once you get there. It is easy to get on the treadmill or elliptical at the gym and put in your 30 minutes, but this can get boring. Statistically, once you get bored with the gym, you stop going.

How do you get in your recommended 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week? At-home workouts have always maintained popularity with methods such as workout videos or home gym equipment. An easier, more straightforward method is bodyweight workouts. Bodyweight exercises are simple, effective ways to improve balance, flexibility, and strength without gym machines or equipment. You can do all of these bodyweight exercises at home.

Most people think of push ups and pull ups when we hear ‘bodyweight workouts’, but however, there are several fun and challenging workouts from this category.


Efficiency: You can get impressive results from short workouts alone.
Strength and cardio: Keep your heart pumping while building muscle and flexibility.
Fat-burning: The burn continues looooong after the workout. For example, one study found that a 45-minute workout increases how fast your body burns fat for 14 hours.
Easy transitions: No wiping down and changing machines, and no restrictions on how to exercise based on your ability level.
Zero excuses: In the immortal words of Shakira: Whenever. Wherever. You don’t need to be in a gym — you just need to clear enough space to move around a bit.
Zero cost: Do I need to say more?
Results: Bodyweight exercises may help you get results. They use compound movements that engage several joints and muscles with each move. This makes exercises like push-ups and lunges super effective for improved strength and performance.

Arm Circles: Stand with your arms by your sides, perpendicular to your torso. Slowly make clockwise circles about one foot in diameter for 20-30 seconds. Reverse the movement.

Push Ups: With your hands shoulder-width apart, keep your feet flexed at hip distance and tighten your core. Bend your elbows until your chest reaches the floor, then push back up. Keep elbows tucked.

Plank: Lie facedown with your forearms on the floor and your hands clasped. Extend your legs behind you and rise up on your toes. Keep your back straight and your core engaged. Hold 30-60 seconds. Squat: Stand with your feet parallel to each other. Slowly begin to crouch by bending your hips and knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your heels on floor.

Lunge: Stand with your hands on your hips and your feet hip width apart. Step your right leg forward and lower your body until your left knee is close to the floor. Return to standing and switch legs.

Superman: Lie on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you and legs stretched out behind you. Raise your arms and legs off the ground a few inches, hold a few seconds, and then lower.

Shoulder Bridge: Lie faceup with your knees bent and your feet hip width apart. Place your arms at your sides and lift your spine and hips. Only your head, feet, arms, and shoulders should be touching the floor. Lift one of your legs and keep your core tight. Slowly bring your leg back down, and then lift again. Try doing ten reps per leg, and then slowly lower your spine back onto the floor.

Activity Corner with Ana Gouge

Connecting Communities

by Joy Sims

A system is a group of interrelated and interdependent elements that function together as a unified whole. Similarly, a food system includes all of the individual units that procure, consume, prepare, distribute, process, market, and more to get food from farm to table. Changes to one part of the food system can affect one, some, or all parts of the food system. Many Louisianans have likely witnessed changes in their local food systems firsthand since the COVID-19 outbreak, such as changes in how children receive school meals, increased utilization of food pantries, and decreased availability of some food items at grocery stores.

Did you know that everyone plays a part in their local food system? Even if you only connect with the food system as a consumer, your role is an important one. Community members’ food preferences, dietary habits, and shopping habits, along with other factors, can all influence and shape the local food system in a particular area. For example, you might not find some Louisiana staples like crawfish, succotash, or turnip greens if you travel a few states north! A food system is incomplete without its consumers, but in some communities – especially rural Northeast Louisiana – healthy food isn’t always accessible to everyone. Food access is tied to health equity, and it is important that a food system functions in such a way as to ensure that every consumer has the opportunity to make healthy choices, whether they shop at the most high-end grocery store or purchase their milk from the local gas station.

As a part of the LSU AgCenter, Healthy Communities works to identify barriers to food access and find solutions to improve the food system in a community. Healthy Communities serves every parish in Louisiana with focus on six parishes with adult obesity rates over 40%. Four of these high obesity parishes are located in the northeast region. These parishes also face high levels of food insecurity, which means not having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. According to America’s Health Rankings in 2019, Louisiana ranked 48 out of 50 states in food insecurity and while the nation’s food insecurity percentage has declined over time, the number of Louisianans unable to provide proper food due to lack of resources has continued to rise well above the national average. Food insecurity is a complex problem and disproportionately affects some populations.

Food is essential for every person, and it is imperative that we tackle these conditions on a larger scale to ensure equal opportunities to be healthy. Here’s a challenge– identify your own food systems!

  • On your usual trip to the grocery store, observe what items stand out to you when you walk in the store and as you walk around. Do you notice the produce or snacks first? Do you notice a lot of healthy options that your family would enjoy? Allow children to share what they observe as well.
  • Take your family or student to a local garden or farm (with permission of course) and show them what produce from the ground up looks like.
  • At home, make a creative model of your family food system. Make a poster showing how food gets from the farm to their bellies – don’t forget to mention your local growers!

FCS Spotlight

by Cathy Agan

Have you ever really thought about what all goes in to making healthy choices? You may know you should eat healthful foods and get physical activity every day, but what if fruits and vegetables aren’t available where you are? What if there is no safe, affordable place for you to be physically active.

On the other hand, what if policies at your workplace promoted healthy choices? What if you had healthy foods readily accessible? What if you could walk to a park within ten minutes from your home?

Those are just the kind of issues that the LSU AgCenter’s Healthy Communities initiative is trying to solve. Healthy Communities efforts are led by LSU AgCenter Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS)Agentsthroughcollaboration with other organizations and community members. The Healthy Communities model recognizes the importance of individual- level factors on behavior change but also includes the influence of factors beyond individual choice on health outcomes such as community resources and policies.

The Ouachita Parish Healthy Communities Coalition works to implement policies, systems, and environmental (PSE) changes in Ouachita Parish so that a healthy choice can be an easier choice. The coalition is a format to bring partners to the table, assess community needs, and promote community changes and approaches that address the obesity epidemic. Here is just one example of that in action.

Volunteers working on a stenciling project.Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, children were unable to use the playground equipment at their schools. School administration and staff recognized a great need for activities to keep kids active while social distancing. The Ouachita Healthy Communities Coalition was able to meet that need by stenciling fun, colorful fitness and activity stations on school and community center playgrounds, sidewalks, and walking tracks. Coalition members recruited volunteers and spent many hours painting stencils in order to keep kids active and moving.

The response to stenciling projects has been tremendous, as it appears that more people in the community are using the spaces after the addition of the stencils. Parents, students, teachers, and school administrators have all been complimentary and thankful for this environmental change that also changed the system of recess during a pandemic. One parent said, “My kids love the stenciling on the track.” The principal at Drew Elementary School said, “We love the stencils and appreciate you and your team so much!” Another administrator commented that the stenciled activities are the kids’ favorite thing to do on the playground. While another stated, “The fitness station stencils and game stencils on our playground provided options for our P.E. classes that we were unable to offer before. This will be especially helpful during the pandemic because of the safety protocols that we must follow. This service was provided at no cost to the school. We would not have had the funding to pay for it ourselves.”

Volunteers painting on a stenciling project.

Coalition members reported that they are proud of how the coalition is involving the community and providing opportunities for the community to have pride and ownership of what is implemented. One member said, “Just to be involved in the collaboration of such a great organization has made me proud to be a part of.” Another member stated, “The leadership of the coalition feels more like facilitators. They engage coalition members and provide an open forum for ideas. They also brought community partners together.”

Coalition members have also made healthy changes for themselves and their coworkers. One member reported sharing the Leslie Sansone indoor walking DVD provided by the LSU AgCenter with her workplace. They are using it twice a day at their workplace for employees to be physically active and encourage their clients to be active. She reports that it has greatly helped her arthritis. A different member said, “I can honestly say that I have grown in my knowledge around overall health outcomes, nutrition, the dangers of chemical exposure, and the importance of air quality. I’ve also increased my knowledge in what programs are available to my family and community through the LSU AgCenter.” Another coalition member said that she has been using techniques learned from the Yoga for Kids training received from the LSU AgCenter to help smokers in the tobacco cessation programs she facilitates. Healthy Communities is most definitely on the move in Ouachita Parish!

Food Safe Families

Refrigerator Shelf OrderjpgWhen it comes to food safety at home, be sure to check your steps! These four important, easy steps should be adopted to be sure you are preparing food safely:

1.) Clean: Clean kitchen surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water while preparing food.
2.) Separate: Separate raw meats from other foods by using different cutting boards.
3.) Cook: Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer.
4.) Chill: Chill raw and prepared foods promptly.

Kid Stuff!

Peaches are in season, so treat your little ones to a nutritious snack and a real fun project! Below, you can find the steps to grow your own fruit tree, beginning with saving a peach pit.

1.) Clean the pit and store it in the refrigerator in a plastic bag until September or October.
2.) Place the pit about five inches beneath the soil surface.
3.) In the spring, your tree will start to grow and should be visible by July!
4.) Keep the tree watered and fertilized (contact your local LSU AgCenter Extension Office for more information about fertilization) and you'll have fruit in 2-3 years!

Resource: Peach facts and picking tips (

Information and activity made available by Quincy Vidrine

Healthy Recipe Box: Blueberry Peach Crisp

Bowl of blueberries.

Blueberry Peach Crisp


  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup margarine, cut up
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 3 cups frozen peaches, thawed, sliced

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine oats, brown sugar, and flour. Cut margarine with pastry blender or fork until well blended and moist enough to form a ball. Add chopped walnuts. Toss undrained blueberries and peaches with sugar, flour, and spices. Pour in an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Scrape the bowl well. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over fruit and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Variations: Fresh fruit may be used “in season” when it is a good buy. Use frozen blackberries and peaches or peaches only as the filling.

Source: Easy Recipes Using Common Commodity Foods

Made available by: Kimberly Butcher, EFNEP, Nutrition Assistant Agent


  • Blueberries are low in fat, a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and have proven health benefits.
  • Three servings of blueberries every week can help promote heart health, improve brain function, help prevent cancer, and stabilize blood sugars.
  • You can enjoy blueberries on salads, yogurt, and cereal. You can also include them in muffins, pancakes, smoothies, and water.
  • Blueberries can fight disease and they are also anti-inflammatory.
  • Blueberries are #1 in healthy antioxidants.

Healthy Recipe Box: Fiesta Stuffed Peppers

Colorful bell peppers.

Fiesta Stuffed Peppers


  • 6 tablespoons shredded cheese
  • 1 ½ cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 red peppers
  • ¼ cup salsa

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook about 2 minutes. Add ground turkey, salt, and cumin. Cook until the turkey is completely cooked through. Add salsa and ½ cup of the chicken broth to the turkey mixture and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Add the cooked rice and remove from heat.

Prepare the peppers by cutting each in half lengthwise and removing the seeds. Spoon turkey and rice mixture into each pepper and place in a rimmed baking dish. Tip each with 1 tablespoon cheese. Pour the remaining chicken broth in the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.


Sweet or hot, fresh or cooked, peppers are a great addition to meals. Bell peppers require higher temperatures to grow compared to other vegetables. Peppers also prefer a well- drained soil rich in organic matter. They can be found in green, red, yellow, and orange colors. Classified by their sweetness, mild peppers include bell, banana, pimento, and sweet cherry, while hot peppers include jalapeno, habanero, cayenne, large cherry, and tabasco. When choosing a pepper, look for a firm, bright coloring with tight skin.

Recipe by Markaye Russell


EFNEP SNAP and Healthy Communities logos.

  • 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 Parish, Joy Sims, (318) 574-2465
  • Ouachita Parish, Cathy Agan, (318) 323-2251
  • Ouachita Parish, Kimberly Butcher, (318) 323-2251
  • Ouachita/Union Parish, Markaye Russell, (318) 323-2251

Northeast Region logo.

For the latest research-based information on just about anything, visit our website: William B. Richardson, LSU 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.
William B. Richardson, LSU Vice President for Agriculture Louisiana State University Agricultural Center Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service LSU College of Agriculture

If you need an ADA accommodation for your participation, please contact Quincy Vidrine at least two weeks prior to the event. The LSU AgCenter provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

Local Food Finds: East Carroll Parish

by Jocinda Jackson

The Lake Providence Farmers Market is the most recent market in the area, and it is becoming well known in the community for its local, fresh foods. Local farmers, bakers, and produce growers come together every Saturday and participate as vendors to sell fresh produce and baked foods. Each Saturday vendors update their catalog to better serve the community while also fellowshipping with friends and family in the area. The market is known for its eggs, tomatoes, peaches, watermelons, jams, and many other great food options. Vendors use the best farming techniques and take pride in growing and sharing the delicious produce they’ve grown at the market each Saturday. The Lake Providence Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 8:00am-12:00pm outside of the Byerley House Visitor Center (600 Lake St, Lake Providence, LA 71254).

Local Food Finds: Living It Up At La Bonne Vie Farm

by Cecilia Stevens

The Richards family of St. Joseph had cabin fever during Covid quarantine. One break led them to Gamberi’s Farm Supply in Natchez, where they purchased six chicks. Since then, the fowl have grown to include ducks, dairy goats, geese, pigs, and rabbits at the mini farm the family has christened the La Bonne Vie Farm.

Robin and Heather Richard, along with their blended family of five children, have made their home on the banks of Brushy Bayou at Lake Bruin. Heather has a strong interest in clean eating and local foods. She stresses that she is a beginner farmer who is blessed with the opportunity to work from home and devote time to care for the animals and plants on the La Bonne Vie Farm.

Microgreens from La Bonne Vie Farm.This desire to eat healthier has led to the launch of a new La Bonne Vie Farm enterprise - microgreens and sprouts. “Microgreens are a power-punch of nutrients”, says Heather, “plus I love to watch them grow.” The Richards’ home office is now a microgreens nursery. Grow lights and shelving help grow kale, radish, mustard, sunflower, green pea, garbanzo, and mung bean sprouts. They are packaged and sold at the St. Joseph Farmers Market.

The Richard family selected the name La Bonne Vie to reflect the good life they have found in farming. “Being around the animals and plants is so rewarding. Its relaxing. We haven’t bought eggs in a year, we eat vegetables from our own garden, and we make our own soap from goat milk.” Heather says that she can pick dinner from her yard and even add edible flowers for garnish.

La Bonne Vie Farm is a family effort. Husband Robin travels for work, so Heather relies on her children for help. Youngest sons Griffin and William prefer to assist with the animals, while teenage son Kevin provides muscle for more challenging farm tasks. Griffin is voting that the family add sheep, while William hopes a donkey will soon be residing at La Bonne Vie.

La Bonne Vie booth at the Downtown St. Joseph's Farmers Market.La Bonne Vie microgreens, sprouts, and goat’s milk soap are available each Saturday at the St. Joseph Farmer’s Market. The Richards may also be contacted through the farm’s Facebook page.

Local Food Finds: Morehouse Parish

by Jocinda Jackson-Jones

The local food system in Morehouse Parish is consistently growing and food pantries are playing an important role in making it happen. Morehouse Parish Healthy Communities is currently assisting a few local food pantries in the community (RWCC Food Pantry, Care & Hope Food Pantry & Mt. Zion’s Helping Hands Food Pantry). The pantries have worked closely with Healthy Communities to update their nutritional guideline policies and increase storage capacity to better serve the community in a healthier, more efficient way. The food pantries offer monthly food-related support to low-income households as well as the elderly and others who are in need. Food pantries welcome food donations from local farmers and others who’d like to contribute. For more information on how to connect with local food pantries and their owners in Morehouse Parish, contact Jocinda Jackson- Jones, Morehouse CDC Extension Agent at jrjackson@ or at (318) 281-5741 or Cecilia Stevens, Northeast Region Food Systems Coordinator at or at 318-435-2903.

Upcoming Events

If you would like more information on any of these events, please contact the FCS Agent from the parish in which the event is taking place. Their contact information can be found on page 10.

  • August 14th: Lake Providence Farmers Market Healthy Communities Presentation, 8AM to 12PM (East Carroll) This Farmers Market takes place every Saturday in Lake Providence, Louisiana. Healthy Communities comes out to the event to help spread information on healthy living.
  • August 18th: "Workout Wednesdays" Virtual Educational Program, 12PM-12:30PM (Ouachita Parish) Workout Wednesdays occurs on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. This program connects you with a group to help you stay motivated to exercise.
  • August 21st: "Super Saturday" Drive-Through Event, 9AM-12PM (Ouachita Parish) This event will be at the Children's Coalition for Northeast Louisiana. There will be a drive-through that gives away backpacks for the upcoming school year!
  • August 24th: "Break Up with Salt" Virtual Educational Program (Ouachita Parish) During this virtual series, Kimberly Butcher will be teaching ways to limit your salt intake. This series will be every Tuesday from August 24th-Setptember 14th.
  • September 7th: "Farm to Table on Louisiana Living" TV Event, 4:30PM (Ouachita Parish) Tune in on KARD TV Fox 14.
  • September 14th: Ouachita Parish Healthy Communities In Person/Virtual Meeting, 1:30PM (Ouachita Parish) This meeting will be at the Ouachita Parish LSU AgCenter Extension Office.
  • September 14th: Mobile Food Pantry: Volunteers Needed (Tensas Parish) The food pantry will be in Waterproof, LA. There is a need for volunteers to assist in loading cars with food.
  • September 18th: "Dia de la Familia" In Person Event, 2PM-6PM (Ouachita Parish) This event from the Children's Coalition of NELA is to help promote healthy living and celebrate Hispanic culture. It will take place at Forsythe Park in Monroe, Louisiana.
  • September 18th: "Knife Skills for Kids" In Person Event, 10AM-12PM (Union Parish) This is a workshop that will be hosted by Markaye Russell at the Union Parish Auditorium. It is $12 for each child to attend the workshop. There are limited spots.
  • September 21st: Play Streets Training In Person Meeting, 9:30AM (Franklin Parish) The LSU AgCenter is in search of community-minded leaders to be trained in Play Streets in order to promote physical activity in their area. The Northeast Region Nutrition Team will host the training at the Scott Center in Winnsboro, Louisiana.

In Development:

  • "Let's Eat for the Health of It" Virtual Series, September (Franklin Parish) This educational health series for adults will be hosted by Quincy Vidrine.
  • "Happy, Healthy Me" In Person Event, September (Franklin Parish) This will be an event for students who are in pre-K and Kindergarten to promote and educate on healthy living.
  • Edible Landscaping Project at Columbia, (Ongoing) (Caldwell Parish) The Columbia Council on Aging is in the process of developing a feeding site through edible landscaping.
  • Community Food Pantry Project in Morehouse Parish, (Ongoing) (Morehouse Parish) Healthy Communities is working with local food pantries in Morehouse Parish to increase storage capacity and implement nutritional guidelines.
  • Community Garden Project in Morehouse Parish, (Ongoing) (Morehouse Parish) Jocinda Jackson, Denise Guyewski (LSU AgCenter 4-H Extension Agent) and Cecilia Stevens (Local Food Systems Coordinator) has worked with The RWCC Community center’s director (Randy Williams) to establish the new upcoming community garden.

8/25/2021 6:09:42 PM
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