Shelby Brawner, Extension Assistant/ Grant Manager
4-H FOOD SMART FAMILIES IN SHELBY COUNTY
Jim Todd, Extension Agent
“My favorite vegetable is corn! I liked the games…one we had to make up a meal including the fruit and vegetables we learned all about! That soup sure was good….may I have another bowl?” Excitement was all around the 4-H Food Smart Families program beginning with the December 2015 Statewide Kickoff at the Agricenter International in Memphis where over 100 students and guests experienced healthy choices learning stations, a mock grocery store and shopping challenge, a healthy food demonstration, and presentations from United health Care and local officials. Cathy Faust, FCS Extension Agent and Queen Gardner, 4-H Program Assistant have taught over 300 youth in grades 4-8 how to make healthy food choices, shop on a budget, and share what they have learned with their families.
Cathy said, “One young man came in the third session, holding a bag of White Cheddar pop- corn. He said he was trying to ‘eat healthier’ since attending our sessions. I had him read the label aloud to the other participants (around 100), and they were excited about trying the ‘healthy popcorn.’ We purchased small bags of the popcorn as one of our snacks in a later session.”
Most of the youth served were from the inner city of Memphis and many had never seen nor tried many of the vegetables introduced during the Food Smart Families program. They served celery during one session and one young student came back four times asking for more “salad.” He said it was delicious and that he would ask his mom to buy some the next time she went to the store.
When asked how she liked the Food Smart Families program, a young student from New Hope Christian Academy said, “I would like to thank Unit- ed Health Care for sponsoring this program. It helped my family….my grandma started a diet so she could be more healthy and lose weight. It helped me and my Mom….we don’t eat as much fast food as we use to. She cooks a lot of fruit and vegetables and fish that can make us healthier.” Each of the FSF programs ended with a graduation ceremony that included a recipe tasting with parents and a 4-H bag with a meal’s worth of ingredients…..and smiles all around!
All in all, youth enjoyed learning about new foods, how to make healthy choices, how to read a food label, how to compare cost of foods at the store, and were encouraged to help their families become ”Food Smart Families!”