Grant teaches healthy eating to low-income adults in Springfield

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program has received a $2,750 grant from the Springfield Foundation to educate low-income adults about nutrition and physical health.

The education program is part of the Ohio State University Extension service.

Free eight-week classes for adults will be offered throughout Clark and Montgomery counties at sites like Springfield City School District, the Fuller Center and detention centers. The classes are held once per week and last about 60 to 90 minutes each.

The goal is to positively affect children’s home environments.

“We go anywhere we are needed,” EFNEP Program Specialist Nancy Doyle-Lyons said.

The classes target adults living below 186 percent of the federal poverty level with younger children. Lessons teach participants how to navigate grocery stores, stretch food budgets, prepare and keep healthy meals and lead active lives.

“Often times, people want to buy healthy produce but they don’t know how,” Doyle-Lyons said. “We want them to be able to make healthy meals for their families.”

The goal is to give people the skills and confidence to choose healthier lifestyles, she said.

“For some, this is the first time they’ve tasted vegetables,” Doyle-Lyons said.

The curriculum also focuses on physical activity and demonstrates simple exercises people can do at home, such as stretching or jumping jacks.

Participants receive daily incentives based on particular culinary or physical activities.

“In the past, we’ve given them things like pedometers, measuring cups and cookbooks,” Doyle-Lyons said. “We also teach them some games they can play with their families at home.”

The classes partner with local farmer’s markets to increase Clark County families’ access to fresh produce. The intention is to let participants know that they can reap the reward of farmer’s markets, she said, and enjoy a sense of community.

“(Low-income adults) found that the market is intimidating,” Doyle-Lyons said.

Participants are given a $10 certificate for their local farmer’s market at the beginning of the course and can earn a $20 certificate at the end of the course.

About 124 of 200 participants who took the classes in Clark County this summer benefited from the grant.

According to program data, 25 of the 124 participants had redeemed certificates at the Springfield Farmer’s Market so far and about half of the 124 participants this year showed an increase in eating fruit and vegetables.

“Educating the parent not only on how to feed their children healthy foods but also teach the parent how they can choose to live a healthy lifestyle … will set the child up to choose healthy behaviors throughout their life,” Doyle-Lyons said.

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