My Plate for My Family teaches families to make nutritious choices

Published 1:36 am Thursday, January 19, 2023

On Feb. 7, the Crenshaw County Extension Office will launch a series of classes focused on teaching families to increase nutrition in meal choices.

My Plate for My Family, a four-week series of classes, will be held each Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Luverne Public Library. Families who participate will learn about making nutritious meal choices while playing games and participating in a cooking demonstration.

Classes are scheduled to run each Tuesday through Feb. 28. The program is free, and class size is limited to 20 participants.

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“It’s a workshop for families to come and figure out how to make their meal choices more nutritious,” said Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Nutrition Educator Kristen Sanders. “We’re not going to tell them what they should eat. We will help them modify their favorite meals to make them more nutritious by adding fruits or vegetables or swapping protein for a leaner protein.”

According to Sanders, families are sometimes uninformed about nutrition. The program is designed to address nutrition education by helping families make their meals more nutritious.

“The goal is to just start somewhere, to try and get people in and learning about nutrition,” Sanders said. “Our goal is to encourage those who have SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) to attend workshops which help them utilize SNAP dollars for nutritious meals and to do that at low cost. We don’t do anything that’s going to cost a lot, but try to make meals which are cost effective and help save money.”

Nutrition impacts overall health outcomes, Sanders noted, and nutrition education encourages families to make choices that improve their health and prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and hypertension.

“Nutrition is what’s going to prevent sickness,” Sanders said. “If we could start by helping prevent sickness with our nutrition, then eventually we save money on medicine and doctor visits and mitigate long term, chronic illnesses.”

Extension Office Coordinator Amanda Evans said Sanders coordinates SNAP-Ed programs in both Crenshaw and Pike counties.

“She’s trying to start programs which benefit some of our less fortunate ones, to help them stay within their budget but eat healthy at the same time,” Evans said.

Sanders partners with local grocery stores and teaches families to look for local sales to help them stay within their budgets.

The program introduces new food items, including fruits and vegetables, to families, especially the children. Games and cooking demonstrations also teach families to prepare meals together, creating opportunities for quality time for parents and children.

“Kristen is trying to help families learn how they can fix a healthy plate and do it as a family so that it is fun for everyone,” Evans said. “It helps families spend quality time together in a time where our lives are so fast-paced.”

My Plate for My Family classes are scheduled to run each Tuesday through Feb. 28. The program is free, and class size is limited to 20 participants.

For more information, call the Luverne Public Library at (334) 335-5326.