Many have had the opportunity to meet Sophia Spencer who came on board in the Purdue Extension-Putnam County office last fall as the Youth Family Nutrition Program Assistant. Spencer is a part-time staff person who visits the grade one through six classrooms using a curriculum called Professor Popcorn.
To participate in the program, the school must have fifty percent or more of youth eligible for free or reduced lunch. Nearly all of the primary, elementary, or intermediate Putnam County schools qualify for her to work within their classroom.
Professor Popcorn is a fun curriculum which helps children develop positive, healthy eating choices. Too often sugary and/or salty quick convenient snacks are consumed by children that result in early health concerns like high blood pressure or diabetes.
A number of fruit or vegetable alternative snacks are far healthier for children. Spencer states, "If we can develop good eating habits and physical activity in children at a young age, they will be much more likely to continue making positive nutritional and healthy choices as adults."
During a recent presentation at Deer Meadow Primary in Mrs. Worman's classroom, Spencer utilized an interactive felt board of good snack choices. She also helped the children contrast various fruits and vegetables. Children in the class also sampled and experienced a classroom snack of assorted berries, fruits, and vegetables that are both quick and easy snack choices.
Other classroom activities included identifying healthy activities such that one can become and remain a healthy person.
Since her mid-November start, Spencer spent the first six weeks in her position organizing and developing teaching materials while also contacting teachers to schedule classroom visits. During the first quarter of 2011, Spencer has taught and conducted more than one hundred class visits. Typically she will visit a class five times to complete the curriculum. Spencer is also available to home school and other youth groups where the children are typically in grades one through six and again where more than half are eligible (not necessarily participating in) free or reduced lunch programs.
The Youth FNP program is funded by a grant administered by Purdue University's Family Nutrition Program in the College of Health and Human Sciences from the US Department of Agriculture.
Check the website www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam to view the most up to date info. You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 653-8411 for more information regarding column topics or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.
April 7, 14, 21, 28 Dining with Diabetes Classes-Advance registration required
April 11 -- Ext. Homemaker Lesson on "Ways to Relax" 7 p.m. at Extension Office
April 13 -- 4-H Cat/Animal Poster Workshop, Extension Office, 6:30 p.m.
April 21 -- Specialty Food Workshop -Indianapolis
April 23 -- 4-H Dairy Feed Steer Weigh-in, Fairgrounds, 8 to 10 a.m.
April 28 -- Extension Homemakers Spring Dessert - Fairgrounds 7 p.m.
May 9 -- Junior Pork Quality Assurance, Fairgrounds, 7 p.m.
May 14 -- 4-H Sheep Tagging & Retinal Scan, Fairgrounds, 8 a.m. to noon
May 16 -- All remaining 4-H livestock and animal enrollment forms due