University of Minnesota Extension
Menu Menu

Extension > Family Matters > 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

Featured Partner: VEAP

VEAP: Meeting Basic Needs. Building Stronger Communities.
"I know firsthand that VEAP is a place that offers help and hope," says Rick Rector of Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP). Rick is a champion at inspiring his co-workers to give back through VEAP, an organization that provides a range of services to help low-income people meet immediate needs and reach long-term stability.

Rick says his approach is simple: "Let's do a food drive and have some fun at the same time."

Friday, November 1, 2013

Partnering to Prevent: Essentia Health

Melody Jahnk,
Volunteer and Community Health Coordinator
Essentia Health St. Mary's in Detroit Lakes is an 87-bed acute-care facility and clinic facility in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. This Benedictine-sponsored facility has partnered with University of Minnesota Extension to deliver the I CAN Prevent Diabetes (ICANPD) program. ICANPD is one of a few programs that Essentia Health St. Mary's is partnering to deliver in the community to provide preventive services. This 16-week course with eight monthly follow-up sessions was implemented this fall with three different groups.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Nutrition Educator Deb Dilley Honored by the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area

Bemidji, MN — The Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area held the 4th annual Harvest Dinner on Thursday, October 10th at the Club. This event is a celebration of family and food. Eighty-three Club, family and community members were fed a meal made primarily from fresh produce from the Club's garden-high tunnel. The garden is now in its 9th growing season and first full season for the high tunnel.

Deb Dilley, a community nutrition educator, spent on average three afternoons per week alongside the Club members throughout the gardening season planting, weeding, harvesting and teaching about food nutrition and preparation. Deb organized the harvest dinner using fresh produce from the garden-high tunnel with the help of Club members, volunteers and staff. Club members dedicated to managing the garden throughout the season assisted in meal preparation and serving. High tunnel tours were given throughout the evening. Pumpkins donated by Terry Nennich were also given away to attendees.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Smart Choices Training Coming to Minnesota

Bonnie Braun from the University of Maryland will be coming to Minnesota to conduct a training of the Smart Choice Health Insurance curriculum on November 12 and 13 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Life and Work Are Like a Marathon

marathon.jpgOn Sunday, October 13, my husband and younger daughter ran a marathon in Chicago. Steve and Allie ran with over 40,000 other runners while I tried to find them among the crowds of runners to cheer them on. I never saw them but both had great races. Steve ran it 3 hours 46 minutes, which is pretty good for a guy having knee surgery next week. Allie had a personal best of 3 hours 59 minutes.

This experience reminded me that much of what we do in our work in Family Development is like a marathon. Do we really have success without discipline and training? And although it is hard work and requires patience to carefully implement and evaluate our work, there is elation and pride when the program is delivered or grant awarded due to this effort. Even as a spectator to the marathon and of your programmatic efforts, I feel great pride in my family's and your accomplishments.

Thank you!

Karen Shirer
Associate Dean

Connie Greer Honored as Friend of Extension at 2013 Fall Program Conference


University of Minnesota Extension Dean Bev Durgan honored Connie Greer, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, on Oct. 8 at Extension's annual conference. Connie has partnered with Family Development on SNAP Education, financial literacy, and healthy food access. We were thrilled to have her honored by the Dean.

Here is the information about the award:

Connie Greer, Distinguished Friend of Extension

Connie Greer, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), has positively impacted the lives of low-income families across Minnesota for 40 years. In her role with DHS, she has been a stalwart friend of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and improved healthy food access through changing food systems and environments.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Featured Partner: West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Inc.

What makes West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Inc really stand out is their ability to envision possibility. “What if we...” is so often the beginning of a conversation with the folks at WCMCA.

WCMCA works to reduce the effects of poverty through a number of programs, from Head Start to fuel assistance. WCMCA understands how important relationships are in all these efforts; they have a deep understanding of the communities they serve.

“Cooking Smart” is one of those innovative, “What if we...” programs that is based on WCMCA's understanding of the community they serve. The idea came from realizing that some of the Head Start families would benefit from learning how to cook on a budget. Jill Fyre, family sufficiency coordinator, found a church to partner with and arranged for child care. A small grant provided groceries. Parents came with their kids, community nutrition educators provided great cooking tips and fun ways to discuss making food healthy, and then everyone ate together. It was like a party!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Restructuring of the Simply Good Eating Program is Underway

Earlier this summer, a task force made recommendations regarding restructuring the 12 Simply Good Eating (SGE) regions to align with the 5 Extension regions.

These are the recommended changes to the Simply Good Eating program that we will be discussing:
  • Program Coordinators (PCs) will continue to supervise Community Nutrition Educators (CNEs). Our goal is that each PC will supervise up to 10 CNEs and give the kind of support that leads to high-quality, impactful programs.
  • We are creating a new position to supervise the PCs. This new role will be a largely administrative and operations role, and will be classed as a Professional Administrative. These new supervisors will manage the programs funded by EFNEP and SNAP Ed. We anticipate putting in place these new supervisors by January 1, 2014. The number of supervisors will be determined by future funding levels.
  • These changes will give Extension educators more time to develop new program efforts and to learn more about Policy-System-Environmental (PSE) approaches across all Health and Nutrition programming. Changes in the SNAP Ed guidance, SHIP 3, and other trends are driving these changes. EEs will no longer provide administrative oversight to SGE work. Instead, they will target their skills and efforts toward broader health and nutrition impacts, of which SGE is part of the spectrum of strategies.
Please reserve the date on your calendars if possible; the webinar will be recorded for later viewing if you are unable to participate when it is presented. More information will be coming your way regarding how to connect with the webinar in the next week.

Karen Shirer
Associate Dean

Highlighting the Food Safety Education Team Successes

Last fall, the Food Safety Education Team joined Family Development and I want to highlight some important successes that they recently had.

The Food Safety Education team is led by Katherine Waters and works closely with Joelle Friertag, an Extension specialist in Food Science and Nutrition. Four Extension educators currently work on the program team: Deb Botzek-Linn, Kathy Brandt, Suzanne Driessen, and Glenyce Vangsness-Peterson. Connie Schwartau serves as coordinator for the team.

More Restructuring in Family Development

Over the last year, Family Development has had three new program areas/units come under its umbrella: Food Safety Education, Healthy Food Access/Community Food Systems, and the Children, Youth & Family Consortium. We found that with additional staff and programming to support, we needed to adjust and streamline our administrative support team. Here are some of the changes that may be of interest:
  • Rhonda Dragan is now the Graphic/Multimedia Communication Associate, taking over for Jon Fu who has left Family Development
  • Jeanne Laqua is expanding her role and is now providing administrative support to all Family Development Program Leaders, not just Health and Nutrition.
  • Heather Lee is now supervising all staff in administrative support positions.
We are continuing our efforts to strengthen the roles and skills across all administrative staff, helping to ensure we have the best staff and the right roles in the future. To learn more about our programs, go to our website at:

Monday, July 1, 2013

I CAN Prevent Diabetes in Western Minnesota

Nutrition Educator Lynn Lokken helps folks in Dawson, MN make lifestyle changes.  And she's not alone

Four nutrition educators, trained as Lifestyle Coaches in the Individuals and Communities Acting Now to Prevent Diabetes© (I CAN Prevent Diabetes or ICANPD) program, are teaching classes for people at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

These classes are part of the Western Minnesota ICANPD pilot project that launched this February. ICANPD's evidence-based curriculum helps participants improve food choices and increase physical activity.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Farm to School Recipes

If you’re looking for recipes kids are sure to enjoy, you’ve come to the right place.

Farm to School: Buying Tips and Tools

Looking for more resources to support your local food purchases? Explore the resources below:

Buying Local Food for Food Service in MinnesotaThe Minnesota Project — Cooking with seasonal, locally grown foods can be a new experience for many chefs. This guide is intended to be an introduction to the “whys” and “hows” of using local food in a restaurant or other food service establishment.

Michigan Products: A Step by Step GuideC.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems, Michigan State University — Includes useful information and practical tools on incorporating locals foods into your school meals program include sample bid forms and farmer contracts.

Guide for Using Local Foods in SchoolsVermont FEED — A manual designed for school foodservice directors or staff with a step-by-step process for starting local purchasing in your school, success stories about farm-to-cafeteria relationships and seasonal recipes and menu ideas.

Tips, Tools and Guidelines for Food Distribution and Food Safety: Produce CalculatorOklahoma Farm to School — Helps school foodservice and farmers to calculate quantities and costs of various fruits and vegetables for school meals or snacks. The spreadsheet calculates poundage needed from a farmer based on the desired number of servings and serving size. It also calculates the per serving cost based on the price of the produce. Conversion calculations have been take from the USDA Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs.

USDA Food Buying Guide Online Calculator — The National Food Service Management Institute and Team Nutrition have developed an online calculator to be used with the USDA Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs (FBG). The interactive and simple to use calculator allows child nutrition professionals to build shopping lists of foods from the FBG and determine how much of each item to purchase to provide enough servings for the children in their program.

Farm to School: Purchasing Local Food

Start here to get a thorough understanding of the requirements and policies that are involved with purchasing local food items.

USDA Procurement Regulations and Policy

DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

Using DOD Fresh to Purchase Local ProduceUSDA — Schools can use their USDA Foods entitlement dollars to buy fresh produce; learn more about adding local fruits and vegetables.
Geographic Preference

Geographic Preference

Geographic Preference: What it is and how to use itUSDA — Read more about how school food service can use a geographic preference to buy local foods. For example, schools can put out a bid for apples within 100 miles of the school.

Geographic Preference Option for the Procurement of Unprocessed Agricultural Products in Child Nutrition ProgramsNational Farm to School Network — Summary of the final rule on geographic preference.

Procurement Geographic Preference Q & AUSDA — Memorandum released February 1, 2011. The purpose is to provide questions and answers on the application of the geographic preference option in procurement of unprocessed, locally grown or locally raised agricultural products.”

A School’s Guide to Purchasing Washington-Grown Food — Washington State Department of Agriculture — Ideas for using geographic preference to source local food for school meals.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Understanding the Ways We are Making a Difference

Who we are and what we do are relevant in the lives of over 70,000 Minnesotans. School-aged children to older adults connect with our county-based Community Nutrition Educators (CNEs). Together, they engage in one of 4,000+ interactive, research-based educational offerings annually through the SNAP-Ed program. Our program aims to improve the health and well-being of our participants by developing positive attitudes and skills around healthy food and lifestyle choices.

In order to understand the program effects and determine its impact, in 2011 we began to explore the program components that contribute to participant change. What are some ways, besides a participant survey, that program impact can be determined? Is our program able to create long term behavior change in those we serve? Can an educational program based on successful nutrition  education implementation and programming be helpful in making these long term behavior changes?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Impact of Farm to School Documentary

By Stephanie Heim, Associate Director — Community Food Systems
The documentary was co-produced with our partners, Twin Cities Public Television and Minnesota Department of Health, with support from three consultants who worked on design, marketing, public relations, and development of the discussion resources and guide. 

Our impact by the numbers:

  • Our promotion and outreach strategy resulted in 33 documentary screenings and discussions led by the project team, Health & Nutrition Extension Educators, and community partners. These events engaged more than 1200 people.
  • After participating in the documentary screening and discussion, 88% of participants said they were “likely to take some action to help grow farm to school in our area” and 82% said they were “interested in showing this documentary to other groups and leading discussions.”
  • Since it first premiered on tpt’s MN Channel on March 25, 2012, the documentary has aired 27 times on tpt’s MN or LIFE channel. The documentary aired three times on the tpt LIFE channel and reached an estimated 29,000 viewers.
  • This documentary's website had 4466 unique page views in 2012.
  • Our project team developed 18 resources to host a screening and lead a discussion, a media advisory toolkit, steps to take action, and other resources to support farm to school.
  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy