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Assumption Parish Community Coalition Introduces "Get Fit Ba-You"

The LSU AgCenter Healthy Communities Initiative is active and ongoing in Assumption Parish. Area Nutrition Agent Robin Landry has created partnerships and collaborations within the parish and the LSU AgCenter to build the Assumption Parish Healthy Communities Initiative, Get Fit Ba-You.

Get Fit Ba-You has two components: youth and adults. For the youth component, Landry provided nutrition lessons that were taught over a three-week period to middle school students throughout the parish by P.E. teachers. Landry prepared the teachers to deliver the lessons using the train-the-trainer model. Lessons were adapted from the USDA Team Nutrition curriculum, “Serving Up MyPlate” and meet the benchmarks for health in accordance with state requirements for middle schools. Landry collaborated with Sandra May, FCS Curriculum Coordinator, to develop a curriculum schedule and lesson plans that included interactive activities. Resources, supplemental aids, student handouts, and parent take-home letters were also provided. Students took part in food tastings that included comparing multi-grain tortilla scoops to regular scoops during one tasting and a final tasting of Black Bean Salsa using the multi-grain scoops. The 1,100 ½-cup servings of Black Bean Salsa were prepared in the Assumption Community Hospital kitchen by their staff. The Entergy grant, “Southeast We Power Life” obtained by Landry, provided funds to purchase the food for the project.

Landry and May partnered with Dr. Melissa Cater, Associate Professor & Program Evaluation Specialist, to develop pre- and post- surveys that assessed knowledge gained by students who participated in the project. The results indicated that the children’s nutrition knowledge increased by 18.4%, which was statistically significant (p < .001).

The “Get Fit Ba-You” youth project in Assumption Parish completed its second year using lessons adapted from Team Nutrition Voyage. Year one of the program, conducted by Landry in Assumption Parish last year, is currently being replicated in two schools in St. Mary Parish under the guidance of Area Nutrition Agent Jessica Randazzo.

The adult component of “Get Fit Ba-You” involves the community of Napoleonville, Louisiana. Members of the work group for this component include members from Assumption Community Hospital, Assumption Parish School System, Assumption Parish Police Jury, the local community, LSU AgCenter faculty, and students. The purpose of the adult component is to create Healthy Communities in various areas of the parish one community at a time. The group has been actively involved in creating collaborative, innovative ways to build a healthier Napoleonville. In this component, a walking path was created on the property across from the Assumption Community Hospital. The paved walking path was created through partnerships with funds obtained by the hospital through a Franciscan Mission Fund Grant, grant funds obtained by Landry through the LSU AgCenter Healthy Communities Initiative under the direction of Dr. Denise Holston, the Assumption Parish Police Jury, Assumption Parish School Board and Assumption High School Future Farmers of America (FFA). Landry’s collaboration with AgCenter faculty, Sandra May, Betsy Neely and Jamila Freightman, created signs for the walking path that provide physical activity information. With grant funds, the path was cemented, and exercise equipment was purchased along with plants, benches, trash receptacles and planters to enhance the landscape.

Landry enlisted the help of Dr. Mary Beth Lima, Professor in the Biological and Engineering Department, and her students for their expertise with playgrounds and purchasing and placement of the exercise equipment. The walking path is nearly complete and will provide a safe and aesthetically appealing walking area for local residents. The goal is to help residents increase their physical activity.

Healthy Communities is an ongoing initiative of the LSU AgCenter across the state. Area nutrition agents are working with local agencies, organizations and communities to help Louisiana citizens become healthier while enlisting the help of the agents in other LSU AgCenter disciplines. If you would like to learn more about this initiative and how you can get involved, contact your local LSU AgCenter office.

CDC Healthy Communities Team is Leading the Charge for a Healthy Louisiana


Last month the LSU AgCenter CDC Healthy Communities team traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for the 2019 Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO) National Training. This training provided the opportunity for DNPAO grant recipients from around the country to network, participate in dynamic plenary and breakout sessions, and learn best practices to implement policy, system and environmental change strategies in their state.

In September 2018, LSU AgCenter was awarded a $5 million dollar, five year High Obesity Program grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DNPAO program. This grant will build off previous funding and work started in September 2015 to improve the food system and active transportation environment to reduce obesity.

Meet the Team

Back row, left to right: Joy Sims- Madison/Tensas Parish Extension Agent, Dr. Melissa Cater-NE Regional Director/ Evaluation Specialist, Jessica Stroope- Nutrition Research/ PA Specialist, Matt Greene-Nutrition Education Program Coordinator

Front row, left to right: Katherine Seals-Research Associate, Jamila Freightman- CDC HOP Program Manager, Dr. Denise Holston- CDC HOP PI/Nutrition Extension Specialist, Darrell Griffin-St. Helena Parish Extension Agent, Robin Landry- Assumption Parish Extension Agent/ FCS Regional Coordinator

Healthy Communities for a Healthier Lincoln Parish

January 2017

The LSU AgCenter is working on building healthy communities one community at a time in order to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for all Louisianans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Louisiana holds the highest obesity prevalence in the US at 36%. Because of this high prevalence of obesity, Louisiana citizens suffer from high rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

The first Lincoln Parish Healthy Community meeting was held in Grambling at the Community Center in November. Gambling residents, teachers, retired teachers, concerned citizens, public officials, stakeholders, faith-based leaders, and community members were invited to discuss barriers and assets to health in the parish. Participants identified programs and activities that were in place to help Grambling residents concentrate on becoming healthier and maintaining good health, they identified some things they thought might be keeping residents from being healthy, such as: lack of sidewalks, no swimming pool, lack of knowledge on how to shop and prepare healthy meals, stuck in bad habits, lack of transportation, financial challenges, and social customs, just to name a few. Participants gave ideas of what would help to improve the health of Lincoln residents, including: Community Center for activities or recreation center, workshops for children on nutrition and fitness, to develop a city wide fitness program for children & youth, to develop exercise competition, community garden, teaching nutrition lessons on local radio station, conduct a city wide health fair, and encourage local farmers to participate in local farmers market.

22 Grambling residents have dedicated their time and vision to improve the health of the community by serving on the Lincoln Parish Healthy Communities Coalition. The Healthy Community Coalition, led by the LSU AgCenter, will work to empower Lincoln residents to build a healthier lifestyles by implementing community projects, programs, and policies regarding healthy living. The goal of Healthy Communities is to target not only individual behavior, but also the social and cultural norms surrounding health.

The Grambling Healthy Community members meet this week to work on strategic planning. The next step members will share strategies for addressing concerns identified at the community forum, and put together community action plans.

The Grambling Healthy Community member’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 16th beginning at 4:00 p.m. in the Grambling Community Room. If you are a resident of Grambling and would like to be a part of Healthy Community, it is not too late. We are looking for you to share your vision and strategies for a healthier community in Grambling. If you would like more information please contact Cathy Judd at 318-251-5134.

How the Teaching Garden Project is Helping Students, Parents, and Teachers in Northeast Louisiana

The LSU AgCenter has also partnered with the Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana to establish a community teaching garden at the Children’s Coalition facility in downtown Monroe.This garden provides food for Early Head Start children in their classrooms as well having beds for community members to adopt.A playground has been incorporated into the garden to encourage active play for children who visit the garden. Super Saturday events are held once a month at the garden to provide education and opportunities for working in the garden.LSU AgCenter agents present cooking demonstrations, nutrition educational information, and hands-on activities for families visiting the garden on Super Saturdays.Other community organizations and volunteers also set up educational booths or activities.Physical activity such as Zumba and Yoga have also been conducted in the garden.Super Saturday events have been well attended, and many children have tried a new vegetable for the first time as a result of the tastings in the garden.

Madison Parish Residents Enjoy the New and Improved Fairgrounds Park

At A Glance

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In April 2018, the Madison Parish Healthy Communities Coalition in Tallulah, Louisiana completed their first park revitalization project. What was once a place that attracted illegal activity due to years of neglect has been transformed into an award-winning community destination for social and physical activity.

Public Health Challenge

According to County Health Rankings, Madison parish ranks 64th out of 64 Louisiana parishes for health outcomes and has an adult obesity rate of 43%, making it the least healthy parish in the state. With 41% of parish residents living below the poverty line, increasing physical activity is not as simple as encouraging individuals to join a gym. To address this issue, the LSU AgCenter worked with parish partners to establish the Madison Healthy Communities Coalition. Through a community forum in 2016, the Coalition developed strategies to enhance the nutrition and physical activity environment in their community. [A community needs assessment OR Forum results] also identified numerous barriers to improvements in the health and wellness of residents, including safety issues with the walking trail and sidewalks, the high cost of healthy foods, and children not eating healthy school lunches.


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Community members identified the lack of community facilities for physical activity as a major barrier to living a healthy life in Madison Parish. The Coalition developed and voted on a proposal to revitalize an unused park space known as “the Slab”. With support from the Mayor’s office and local law enforcement, the Coalition worked together to conduct assessments of the area, participated in a Cromer Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) workshop, and developed a proposal for new park equipment and signage. Additionally, the coalition planned a stencil project to decorate the concrete slab with painted playground stencils, which may also promote play.


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The Fairgrounds Park Project was completed in April 2018 and has transformed into one of the main destinations for community engagement and physical activity. New picnic tables, basketball goals, playground stencils, benches,trash cans, and a shade structure were installed to create a more inviting place for residents to gather and be physically active. The city has hosted several community events, such as a 3-on-3 basketball game, Back to School Circus, and 4th of July Celebration. The City of Tallulah was recognized by the Louisiana Municipal Association and received an Honorable Mention award for this project.

Sustaining Success

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The Madison Healthy Communities Coalition has sustained a partnership with the Mayor’s office in the City of Tallulah to implement policy, system and environmental changes. Key members of the coalition also attended a Sustainability Forum hosted by the LSU AgCenter to learn best practices on how to strengthen the coalition and increase engagement. The City of Tallulah is currently working with the Madison Parish Coalition on a downtown walkability project to encourage physical activity and safe routes to public places.

"“A healthy community makes a strong city, and a strong city makes a strong parish, and that makes the entire state better.” - Yvonne Lewis, Secretary to the Mayor of Tallulah, LA"

Find Out More

This project is supported by CDC’s 1416 High Obesity Program cooperative agreement. Learn more about the LSU AgCenter Healthy Communities Project or Follow Us on Facebook @LSUgCenterHC.

Ouachita Parish Fit Feet Program Implemented in Local Schools

The Ouachita Parish Healthy Communities Coalition meets on a monthly basis and is focusing efforts on the area surrounding the Emily P. Robinson Recreation Center.A walk audit was conducted to assess the area and identify areas of concern and opportunities.A survey of residents was utilized to get feedback from citizens of their needs.From the results of the survey, plans were created to prioritize projects for the area.There is an established park in the area that needs improvements and increased utilization by residents. Coalition members are making plans to improve the park with signage, stenciling, and equipment to encourage residents to visit the park. Grant funding will be sought to help implement these changes.The elementary school in that area identified lack of proper shoes as a need for their students.Many children had shoes that either did not fit or were in poor shape.A lack of appropriate shoes makes it difficult for the children to be active.To address this need, the coalition decided to launch the “Fit Feet” program to provide new athletic shoes for children in need at the school.A local attorney has agreed to provide funding for the shoes for approximately 80 children at the school.The goal of the Fit Feet project is to provide kids with the proper shoes to run, play, and be active both at school and at home.

Rural Farmer's Market Accepts EBT Benefits in St. Helena Parish

At A Glance

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To change behavior and promote healthy eating, the St. Helena Parish Healthy Communities Coalition is increasing access to healthy foods in the Greensburg area where over 40% of citizens reside.In partnership with the Louisiana Initiative for Empowerment (L.I.F.E.), the St. Helena Healthy Communities Coalition established a new Farmers Market in Greensburg, Louisiana. In January 2018, this Farmer’s Market started accepting EBT Benefits and Senior Citizen Vouchers, which further expanding access to fresh, locally grown produce to more residents in the parish.

Public Health Challenge

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According to County Health Rankings, St. Helena Parish ranks 47th out of 64 Louisiana parishes for health outcomes, making it one of the unhealthiest parishes in the state. To address this issue, the St. Helena Healthy Communities Coalition was convened to improve the nutritional and physical activity environment in the parish. The Coalition is comprised of community residents, as well as representatives from parish government, education, food retail, USDA Rural Development, and health care. A community forum prioritized an approach to increase healthy food access through economic development.


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The St. Helena Healthy Communities Coalition and the Louisiana Initiative for Empowerment (L.I.F.E.) worked together to develop vendor guidelines and a vendor application form to reinstate a farmer’s market that had been inactive for several years. The St. Helena Parish Farmer’s Market launched November 21, 2017 at Turner Chapel AME Church in Greensburg, LA, and has continued to be held every Wednesday from 8 AM to noon. In January 2018, the Farmer’s Market expanded its impact by accepting EBT Benefits and Senior Citizen Vouchers. To create awareness of the new farmer’s market, banners, flyers and weekly notifications via email and social media have been distributed to all residents in St. Helena Parish.


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Since the St. Helena Farmer’s Market opening in November 2017, more than 100 residents have visited to purchase produce from five local vendors. All booths were attended by small farmers, bakers, and canners. Vendors report nearly sellingd out of their produce, which has encouraged them to continue to participate in the weekly farmer’s market.

Sustaining Success

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The St. Helena Farmer’s Market continues to be held every Wednesday at Turner Chapel AME Church starting every spring with the support of the church, L.I.F.E. and Southern Ag Center Extension agents.

School Gardens in Grambling

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Children at Lincoln Preparatory School and Cypress Springs Elementary School learn how to plant and take care of crops in their school gardens.

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They learned some gardening practices important for growing crops, including:

  • how to correctly water plants
  • how to read a seed package
  • how to spot good bugs from bad bugs in a garden
  • how to prep soil
  • how to dig for potatoes, carrots, and radishes.

They even got the chance to eat a little of what they planted!

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Shady Grove Elementary in Lincoln Parish named a Healthy Communities School to Create Programs for Students

Shady Grove Elementary School has partnered with the LSU AgCenter as a Healthy Communities school. A Focus Forum was held on October 20, 2016 at Shady Grove Elementary School. Community members, school staff, and community leaders were invited to participate in a forum to conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis for Healthy Communities efforts for the school. The group identified priorities of greatest impact for the school community in the area of health and wellness. Those priorities included: a community garden/farmers’ market, exercise classes, and cooking classes.

A Healthy Communities Work Group was formed to addresses these priorities. The work group began with asset mapping and identifying resources in order to implement PSE (policy, systems, and environmental) changes at the school. The goal was to positively impact the health of the students, school staff, and community served by the school.

Nutrition classes including food demonstrations and tastings are being provided at the school through SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education). Yoga for Kids classes have been conducted in collaboration with SNAP-Ed nutrition classes at the school to meet the need for exercise classes. Children have been receiving reinforcement items with nutrition messages to take home to carry the Healthy Communities message beyond the school.

Funding was sought through grants for the establishment of a garden at the school. The garden has spaces for fruits, vegetables, fruit trees, and a pollinator garden. This garden will benefit students academically as well as nutritionally. Science and nutrition concepts can be taught through the garden. Since Shady Grove serves a high poverty area, students will be allowed to take home some of the produce they have raised to help feed their families. SNAP-Ed recipes will be sent home to provide healthful recipes to help families know how to prepare the produce the children bring home. Grant funding has allowed for the construction of 19 raised garden beds for the school garden. This funding also provided a greenhouse for the garden as well as a small greenhouse box for each teacher at the school to use for their classrooms. Garden benches, tables, chairs, butterfly growing kits for each teacher, and other garden supplies have also been funded. The school garden will serve as a living laboratory and will include tables and chairs for the garden area so teachers can use it as an outdoor classroom. This will provide spaces for children to sit during lessons or tastings from the garden. Apple trees have also been planted to extend the garden beyond raised beds.

The garden project at Shady Grove has been named #GrowingGardens #GrowingMinds and is a partnership among the school, the Healthy Communities Work Group, LSU AgCenter SNAP-Ed, LSU AgCenter General Nutrition, LSU AgCenter Horticulture, and the Northeast Louisiana Master Gardeners’ Association. In addition, the Louisiana Purchase Zoo donated amendments for the soil and Matt’s Music donated pallets for construction of a compost bin. 3rd graders are participating in the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program in 2018-2019. This program provides free cabbage plants for 3rd graders.

In order to further extend the Healthy Communities Program at Shady Grove, Smarter Lunchrooms strategies will be implemented, a concrete slab at the school has become a painted playground, new playground equipment/supplies have been purchased, imaginative play grocery stores have been added to Kindergarten classrooms, and swings have been added to an existing frame that was empty. An indoor playground is being established at the school so that children can continue to be active on rainy days when they cannot go outside for recess. The indoor playground will include large size indoor games, a pretend grocery store, and equipment for being active.

Healthy Communities at Shady Grove is working to help the school be an example by raising standards for health and wellness. By promoting healthy communities, we hope to see increased test scores and higher grades. Hopefully healthier children will equal less sick days. Increased parental involvement is also a goal of the program as well as community engagement. We have already seen community engagement through the great support of volunteers who worked to build the 19 raised beds for the garden. The 4-H Club at the school has also become involved with Healthy Communities and created a pollinator garden as an entry in the Carton 2 Garden contest.

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture