Northeast Region Newsletter, October 2022

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Activity Corner

by Carolyn Robinson

Great indoor cardio machine activities:

Treadmills, stationary bikes, dual action bike (arm handles) recumbent bikes, rowing, stair climbers, and elliptical. You can do cardio and weight training in the same workout! If in the same training session, do cardio after weight training. If you are unsure of your limits, do the talk test. You should be able to talk while exercising; if you can’t, slow down. If you can sing, pick up the pace!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

by Cathy Agan

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and pink is popping up everywhere to remind us. Prevention and early detection are key factors in reducing risk or leading to positive outcomes. Did you know that obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer? Making healthy lifestyle changes is something we can all work towards in reducing our risk for many types of cancer including breast cancer. Getting enough exercise is a protective factor. Most adults should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily to reap health benefits. Following the MyPlate eating plan from the USDA can help us plan healthful meals where half of our plates are filled with fruits and vegetables which include nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals. You can find your MyPlate plan at

“Across the United States, cancer organizations, nonprofit groups and even the National Football League all join together in October to raise awareness about breast cancer and emphasize the importance of getting a regular mammogram,” said Myra Gatling-Akers, regional manager, early detection and education, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. “But, at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, we know that in Louisiana – especially in communities across the Northeast Louisiana Delta region – breast cancer rates (and cancer rates, in general) are far too high for us to only focus on October. In fact, according to the Louisiana Tumor Registry, Louisiana has the third highest death rate for female breast cancer in the U.S. And breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among Louisiana women. Year after year, too many of our grandmothers, mothers, sisters and friends find themselves fighting this battle. At Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, we know that early detection is key to successfully fighting breast cancer. But, for many communities across rural Northeast Louisiana, it can be challenging to find local and convenient cancer screening services. Through our innovative Prevention on the Go program, we are bringing cancer screenings to communities across the Delta region – in locations where people live, work, worship and play. So far in 2022, we have hosted 48 free cancer screening events from Delhi to Columbia and small communities in between. We’ve screened nearly 400 individuals – 40 of whom experienced abnormalities and received follow up from our patient navigators.”

“We are proud of the progress we have made, but this work goes far beyond our team at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. This is a community-led and community-driven effort. We are blessed with generous donors and a host of community partners who join us in our mission to fight cancer and increase survivorship. Together we are saving lives. Together we will triumph over cancer.”

Upcoming cancer screenings (Call 318-414-9758 to register.): Breast, prostate, and colorectal on December 14, 2022, in Winnsboro from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM in the Walmart parking lot at 3360 Front Street. Breast, skin, and colorectal on December 15, 2022, in Monroe from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM in the Walmart parking lot at 2701 Louisville Avenue.

Eat Better Together Month

by Joy Sims

Did you know that October is Eat Better, Eat Together month? Family meals are a great way to stay connected with the ones you love. Family mealtimes can be a great way to check in on your loved ones’ day, plan family events, or just sharing a lot of laughs and love! According to, eating together can teach youth healthy eating behaviors like eating more vegetables or drinking more water. Here are some ways you can eat better together this month and all year round!

1. You can assign roles for mealtimes to make sure everyone is involved. Yes, I know this sounds much like chores, but try making it fun by incorporating games? For example, whoever clears the table the fastest (safely, of course) can pick the movie for a family tv night or the game for a family game night!

2. Make it fun by matching a theme. Let each family member put a theme for family mealtime in a bowl or hat. The family has to cook as closely to the theme as possible and maybe even dress up for the meal, too!

3. Make family mealtimes a healthy habit. Tie mealtime to family activities to make things more consistent. Have a healthy meal before diving into a good movie or tv show. Maybe even refuel yourselves for some competitive family gaming! Pick one day to start and go from there.

4. Enjoy spending time together. Sometimes, something as simple as eating together can make a world of difference to the people in your life. If you haven’t had a meal together in a while – which can happen in our very busy world – call up your friends or distant loved ones for some much needed together time.

Fall Food Safety

by Marianna Langston

Tailgate parties, pumpkin patch visits and fall festivals, the cool days of fall are full of fun activities. Those activities very often involve delicious things to eat. You can’t forget about food safety just because the weather is cooler. No matter what you’re doing this fall, there are a few tips that are always important to follow when handling food. Before you prepare or eat any food, always start with clean hands, utensils and surfaces. When washing your hands, wash with soap and warm water for a full 20 seconds. If there isn’t a sink and running water available, use disposable moist towelettes to get your hands clean. Always start with clean plants when handling raw meat or poultry. Never put cooked food back on plates or trays that held raw meat or poultry. Follow the two hour rule when you have perishable foods at the fall activities. Bacteria thrive in temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, it can double in number in as little as 20 minutes. Discard any perishable foods that have been left out for longer than 2 hours. If temperatures are above 90°F, discard the food after one hour.

Fall Potlucks:

Remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use chafing dishes or a slow cooker set on the “warm” or “low” setting. Place cold items on a bed of ice to keep them cold. Place small batches of food out to help ensure they are not staying out longer than two hours.


Have a cold source for perishable items. Frozen gel packs or frozen water bottles work well as a cold source. Pack non-perishable items for easy grab and go food options.


Pack items that you will be grilling in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Wrap raw meat and poultry items separate to avoid cross contamination. Pack ready to eat items in their own cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Be sure to cook items to the proper temperature, so make sure to carry your food thermometer.

Foraging: A Family Fall Tradition

by Cecilia Stevens

(Winnsboro, LA) The hint of cool weather in Louisiana during October and November often sends families in search of weekend adventure, and many of these outdoor adventures involve food. Foraging is the process of harvesting wild fruits and vegetables for human consumption. Foraging is a source of adventure, local food, and outdoor physical activity for families.

Fall is prime forage time in Louisiana as September ushers in wild grape season. Varieties include muscadine, scuppernong, possum grape, and more. Vines are found in wooded areas with dappled shade. The fruit may be eaten raw or processed into foods such as jams, jellies, and vinegarettes.

Mandy Duncan of Monterey, Louisiana, recalls her mother and father making possum grape jelly. “My dad and the kids picked the grapes and then my mom made the jelly. My mom passed away a few years ago. There were so many wild grapes near our home this year that we decided to introduce the tradition to our own children and grandchildren.”

Another foraging tradition is picking up fallen nuts such as pecan and black walnut. Louisiana has several native varieties of pecan, and improved varieties are often found around old home sites. Black walnuts are more challenging to shell than pecans but offer a nut meat with many uses.

A relatively new foraging tradition is wild mushroom hunting. The Carroll family of Washington Parish scours the pine woods near Franklinton for these delicacies. The family members use publications from LSU AgCenter Extension Agent Andre Brock to correctly identify edible varieties. A family favorite is the chanterelle. “I double-check mushrooms to identify them before we eat them, “ says Dedria Carroll, “but I can assure you that there is nothing as tasty as a mushroom just harvested from the woods.”

To prepare for foraging, identify a location and seek permission from the landowner. Discourage insects by wearing insect repellant. Select clothing that will protect the skin from both insects and foliage such as briars. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated while your family hikes and forages.

Food safety should always be a consideration with foraged foods. Be sure that the foraged item is correctly identified and edible. Store the item at an appropriate temperature while transporting and processing.


Northeast Region FCS logo.Catahoula/Concordia Parishes - Ana Gouge, (318) 414-6055, LSU AgCenter.

CDC Food Systems Coordinator - Cecilia Stevens, (318) 435-2908, LSU AgCenter.

East Carroll/Morehouse Parishes - Jocinda Jackson, (318) 559-1459, LSU AgCenter.

East Carroll/West Carroll Parishes - Carolyn Robinson, Southern University.

Franklin/Caldwell Parishes/FCS Regional Coordinator - Quincy Vidrine, (318) 435-2903, LSU AgCenter.

Madison/Tensas Parishes - Joy Sims, (318) 574-2465, LSU AgCenter.

Morehouse/Union Parishes - Marianna Langston, Southern University.

Ouachita Parish - Cathy Agan, (318) 323-2251, LSU AgCenter.

Ouachita/Morehouse Parishes - Kimberly Butcher, (318) 323-2251, LSU AgCenter.

Ouachita/Union Parishes - Markaye Russell, (318) 323-2251, LSU AgCenter.

Richland/West Carroll Parishes - Brittney Newsome, (318) 281-5741, LSU AgCenter.

For the latest research-based information on just about anything, visit our website:
Matt Lee, 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.
If you need an ADA accommodation for your participation, please contact Quincy Vidrine, (318) 435-2903, at least two weeks prior to the event.
The LSU AgCenter provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

Kid Stuff

Movement Game: Balloon Toss

Materials Needed: balloons, a stopwatch


Have participants form groups of three. Give each group a balloon and challenge them to keep it floating in the air for as long as possible. Explain that the players must tap the balloon, not grab it, and no player can touch the balloon twice in a row. Once a group’s balloon has touched the ground three times, that group should march in place and watch the others to see which group can last the longest!

Variations include:

Challenge players to keep the balloon in the air using only their knees, feet, heads, or another part of the body. Give each group two balloons to keep in the air. Time them with a stopwatch. Have the entire group keep as many balloons as possible in the air. Record the time that elapses before the last balloon touches the ground. Let the group try a few times to break its own record.

Pumpkin Fluff Dip

by Kim Butcher


  • 1 package (1.5 oz) of instant, fat-free, sugar-free, vanilla pudding
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
  • 16 oz of light whipped topping
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

  • Directions:

    In a large bowl, mix together instant vanilla pudding, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Fold in the thawed frozen whipped topping and vanilla. chill in the refrigerator until serving.

    Savvy Supermarket Shopping

    by Ana Gouge

    The average cost of monthly groceries for one adult on the thrifty plan ranges from $215 to $288. And when it comes to a family of four, the average cost for their monthly grocery bill shoots up to $932. (USDA, Thrifty Food Plan, 2022)

    Rethink Dinner: Dinner doesn’t have to be the largest meal of the day! Keep it simple with sandwiches and veggies.

    Meatless Monday: Check out some new recipes that do not involve meat (the most expensive component to the meal).

    Raid the Pantry: Get creative with what you have! Ask your child to pull one item from the pantry and work a recipe around it!

    Bulk is Not Always Cheapest: Does your 50 pack of Greek yogurt go bad before you finish it? Did the kids get tired of the extra-large bag of cereal?

    Curbside is Your Budget Friend: It's easy to get in the store and pick up more than what we intended. Sitting at home and mindfully choosing meal ideas avoids the temptations.

    Leave the Kids at Home: If your kids (or spouse) tend to be the indulgent shoppers, leave them at home.

    Upcoming Events

    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.

    Teen Cuisine (in-person) - Franklin Parish: Workshops taking place on September 15th, October 13th, October 20th, November 3rd, and December 15th for ages 13-18. Contact Quincy Vidrine for more information.

    OMCAP Resource Fair (in-person) - Ouachita Parish: Fair at OMCAP on October 7, 2022 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Contact Cathy Agan for more information.

    Ouachita Healthy Communities Coalition Meeting (in person) - Ouachita Parish: October 11, 2022 at Ouachita LSU AgCenter office from 1:30 to 2:30 PM. Contact Cathy Agan for more information.

    Ouachita Parish Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) Coalition Kick-Off Event - Ouachita Parish: October 14, 2022 from 1:30 to 3:30 PM (Location TBA). Contact Cathy Agan for more information.

    Super Saturday at Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana (in-person) - Ouachita Parish: October 15, 2022 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Contact Cathy Agan for more information.

    Ouachita HYPE Meeting (in-person) - Ouachita Parish: October 20, 2022 from 4:00 to 5:00 PM at Ouachita LSU AgCenter Office. Contact Cathy Agan for more information.

    Healthy Funroe Wellness Fair (in-person) - Ouachita Parish: Saul Adler Recreation Center in Monroe from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Oct. 22. Contact Cathy Agan for information.

    Soybean Focus Group and Food/Product Testing - Franklin Parish: October 7th from 11AM to 1PM at the M.E.R.I.T Building in Winnsboro. Contact Quincy Vidrine for more information.

    10/24/2022 6:38:43 PM
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