Northeast Region Newsletter, October 2021

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Activity Corner with Ana Gouge

Green leaves on plant.Fall is the perfect time to enjoy our cooler mornings and evenings. What better way to celebrate cooler weather than getting outside and active! This is the time of year to find unique opportunities to increase activity.

  • Spend the afternoon at a corn maze.
  • Get out and rake leaves. You have the opportunity to burn 120 calories in half an hour of leaf raking.
  • Enjoy a fall festival or map out a walkable yard sale. An hour walk burns between 210 and 360 calories for the average person.

Food Safe Families

by Markaye Russell

Thaw Foods the Safe Way

Going from “frozen to thawed” needs to be accomplished safely! There are three ways to thaw and because bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature; none of these methods involve the kitchen counter.

  • In the Refrigerator: This is the safest way to thaw meat and poultry. Place it on a plate or in a pan to catch any juices
  • that may leak. Normally, it will be thawed in a day or two, depending on its size.

  • In Cold Water: For faster thawing, put in frozen package in a watertight plastic bag and submerge it in cold water;
  • change the water every 30 minutes. The cold water slows bacteria growth in the thawed portions of the meat while the
    inner areas are still thawing. Once thawed, cook it immediately.

  • In The Microwave: Follow instructions from the oven’s manufacturer or owner’s manual. Cook immediately after
  • thawing in the microwave.

    Tip: Frozen meat and poultry can be cooked without thawing. Just add 50% to the cooking time.

    Healthy Recipe Box

    by Cathy Agan

    Chicken Tortilla SoupChicken tortilla soup.


    • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen seasoning blend
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Toppings: (Optional)

    • Tortilla Chips
    • Cheese
    • Sour Cream

    Combine all ingredients in the insert of a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours. Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream for topping.


    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 Parish/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 Parishes - Markaye Russell, (318) 323-2251Northeast Region FCS Logo.

    For the latest research-based information on just about anything, visit our website:
    Lucien P. Laborde, Jr., Interim Vice President for Agriculture, Interim Dean of College of 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 & employment.
    Louisiana State University is an equal opportunity/access university.
    If you need an ADA accommodation for your participation, please contact Quincy Vidrine at least two weeks prior to the event.

    Kid Stuff

    by Kimberly Butcher

    Pumpkin Carving

    Carved pumpkin.Begin by picking a pumpkin that’s good for carving. Look for a pumpkin with smooth, less bumpy skin. A smooth pumpkin is easier for kids to draw on and safer for you to carve. Avoid pumpkins that feel heavy for their size. This can indicate thick walls that could be difficult to carve through. Skip any pumpkins with soft spots, which can indicate rotting. Inspect the pumpkin for any nicks or cuts that may make it vulnerable to infection. Pick a pumpkin with a flat, front surface for carving—that will yield the best results.

    Carved pumpkin with toothpicks for teeth.Remember to take precautions when carving! Choose a location that is well lit and a work surface that’s sturdy. Don’t rush through the process and use small, controlled motions. Keep your hands and carving tools dry so you will be less likely to slip. For added safety, leave the pumpkin top on so you don’t put your hand inside the pumpkin and risk cutting it.

    This year, try skipping the candles. Burning candles are a potential fire hazard, and they can be especially dangerous to kids. This year, try illuminating your pumpkin with an LED tea light instead of a candle. You can also give your pumpkin extra pizzazz with a special effects battery operated light.

    Although the clean up is the part that is the least fun, make sure you clean up as quickly as you can. Pumpkin carving is fun, but it’s also messy - especially when kids are involved. Slippery pumpkin flesh or seeds may end up on the floor and cause a fall. To help minimize this risk, lay down newspaper or a disposable drop cloth under your work area, and pick it up as soon as you’re done carving.

    Local Food Finds: Briarfield Receives Harvest Of The Month Grant

    by Cecilia Stevens

    Girl eating from plate in cafeteria.Lake Providence, LA. Students at Briarfield Academy are harvesting nutrition gains as part of the school’s involvement in the Harvest of the Month program sponsored by the LSU AgCenter. Briarfield was awarded a $5000 Farm to School kitchen equipment mini grant to incorporate Louisiana produce into the school’s food service program. The AgCenter’s Louisiana Harvest of the Month program promotes locally-grown items to community organizations. The Harvest of the Month website includes a collection of lessons, books, and videos that are connected to Louisiana Student Standards and are available for registration for any community organization at no cost. The goal is to increase consumption of Louisiana-grown products while also increasing student access to healthy food options. Briarfield will receive technical assistance from the LSU AgCenter as the program is implemented. This also includes culinary skills training for the cafeteria staff, taste testing of Louisiana products by the students, and developing nutrition guidlines.

    Briarfield students standing in line for milk at lunch.

    Cafeteria manager Tina Hutchinson and cafeteria staff members Dorothy Kelly and Lindsey Hankins are excited to implement the grant. Hutchinson stated, “I try to encourage students to try new foods, even if it's just a taste.” This commitment to healthy eating is echoed by Principal Lisa Walters and the Briarfield faculty. Student involvement is a key part of program success as students not only learn about Louisiana farm products but also taste the foods featured each month.

    Briarfield cafeteria staff Tina Hutchinson, Dorothy Kelly, and Lindsey Hankins.

    Upcoming Events


    • Workout Wednesday Virtual Walking Group, 12PM Ouachita Parish: First and third Wednesdays of every month. Contact Cathy Agan for more information.
    • 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.

    11/3/2021 2:00:35 PM
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    The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture