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Extension > Family Matters > September 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

SNAP-Ed Community Partners Set the Stage for Systems Change

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

At the halfway point of their work, SNAP-Ed Community Partners are reporting changes in organizational practices, public policy, and target audiences’ behavior.

University of Minnesota Extension’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Community Partnership Funding provides funds to 15 local, regional, and statewide agencies. Extension's SNAP-Ed work helps make the healthy choice the easy choice for Minnesotans with limited financial resources. In December 2015, partners were chosen to work collaboratively with SNAP-Ed staff to help bring about policy, system, and environmental changes using practical strategies to help break down barriers to healthy eating and active living. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is providing technical assistance to measure the results of the partners’ work.

Among the most significant successes reported in the halfway report are eight organizational changes achieved by seven partners across the state — changes that include expanding acceptance of EBT cards at farmers markets and increasing access to public green spaces. One partner influenced a public policy change in one community that resulted in local government creating space for a farmers market and community gardens.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Parents Forever™ Courses Earn High Marks from Participants

By Mary Vitcenda, Senior Editor

University of Minnesota Extension’s Parents Forever™ courses have earned high marks from participants, according to the recently released 2015 Parents Forever™ Annual Report. The report summarizes responses to surveys from 2,164 individuals who participated in Parents Forever™ online and in-person courses in 2015.

Visit for the full report.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Next Best Thing to a Secretary of the Future

By Trish Olson, Director of Programs — Extension Center for Family Development

As many of you commute to work or drive to work locations, you may also listen to America Public Media’s radio show Marketplace. During this election year, Marketplace has been considering the idea of having a new cabinet position, Secretary of the Future. This position would address long-term opportunities and threats. The person appointed would be commissioned to think beyond a single federal budget or election cycle.

Image credit:

This is not such a far-flung idea.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Extension Launches New Website for Food Shelves

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

This week, University of Minnesota Extension unveiled a new website that will help make the healthy choice the easy choice for food shelf operators and clients.

Visit the website here:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cooking Matters Class Welcomes Congressman

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate
Last month, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-6) visited a Cooking Matters® Minnesota class at Big Lake Food Shelf in Big Lake, Minnesota.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Starting with a Story

By Sharon Mulé, Staff Development Coordinator

“I start my classes with a story.”

This is one person’s reflection on how their work has changed as a result of the 2016 Qualey-Skjervold Professional Development Conference. Many other comments mentioned listening to stories, telling “my” story, listening to others, and taking time to make connections.

FD Welcomes New Office Support Assistant

Anna B. Alba joined the Applied Research and Evaluation Team as an office support assistant in July. She previously worked as a clerk in district courts in Hennepin and Ramsey counties and a family advocate at Casa de Esperanza, based in St. Paul.

Anna earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chicano Studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Please welcome Anna to Family Development!

September Website Bytes

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

Here are the top three new web developments that you need to know.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Shifting Gears and Making Plans

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

For many of us, autumn brings cheering on our favorite football teams, sitting by the fire on cool and mosquito-free evenings, and appreciation for the many colors of changing leaves. My favorite activity is watching the hummingbirds make their final preparation to migrate south by eating at our feeders.

July 20 - Caught in flight
Photo credit: Pat Kight

Educator Represents Extension and SNAP-Ed at Winona Summer Lunch Event

By Mary Vitcenda, Senior Editor

SNAP-Ed Educator Annette Shepardson was on hand last month when USDA and Congressional officials visited Winona's Summer Lunch Bus program. Annette discussed the important work of SNAP-Ed and University of Minnesota Extension with U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and his assistant Peder Kjeseth; with Katie Wilson, USDA deputy undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services; and with Julie Mikkelson, USDA director of the Food and Nutrition Service Midwest Special Nutrition Division in Chicago.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Urban Extension Conference Comes to Minnesota in 2017

Save the Date!

The 2017 Urban Extension Conference will take place May 8–11, 2017, at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Mall of America and will be hosted by University of Minnesota Extension. Connect with colleagues working in urban areas while attending presentations, workshops, local tours, networking events, and an evening at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Visit the conference Google site for more information.

Presentation Proposals Due September 30, 2016

The 2017 Urban Extension Conference planning committee invites you to share innovative educational strategies and research related to the conference theme Engaging in Collective Purpose — as applied to meeting the needs of urban populations. Proposals for presentations, workshops, posters, and panels that highlight research and/or outreach activities that involve partnerships between practitioners and Extension professionals are encouraged.

Proposals are due Friday, September 30, this year. Read the entire call for proposals and submit your ideas on the conference Google site.

Welcome to New FD Staff Members

Welcome New Member to Family Resiliency Program

By Mary Jo Katras, Program Leader — Family Resiliency

I’m pleased to welcome Veronica Deenanath to our Family Development — Family Resiliency (FR) program. Veronica is joining the Applied Research and Evaluation team to support our FR programming. A majority of her time will be spent helping to manage the Parents Forever™ project, but she will also support other FR projects as needed.

Veronica is a doctoral student in the University of Minnesota Department of Family Social Science. She has been a student at the University for almost 10 years working on her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and now her doctoral degree.

Veronica’s research interests focus on first-generation college student success, immigrant families, financial capability, and money management. She is passionate about applying research to help communities and is very excited to be working in Extension. Veronica’s hobbies include spending time with family, cooking, baking, and watching international movies.

Please join me in welcoming Veronica to our team!

New Graduate Research Assistant Joins ARE Team

Please welcome Patricia (Patty) Arellano who joined Family Development’s Applied Research and Evaluation team as a graduate research assistant on August 29. Before coming to Extension, Patty worked in clinical nutrition in private and public hospitals in Mexico City focusing on nutrition’s role in preventing disease. Patty also worked with low-income communities in Mexico as a health and nutrition advisor.

Patty earned a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico and is pursuing her master’s degree in nutrition at the University of Minnesota.

FD in the News

Here’s your monthly roundup of regional media coverage on the work Family Development staff members are doing.

Grant aimed at establishing Farmers Market a 'destination'
Extension staff assisted Farmers Market Manager Brenda Kent in obtaining a grant from the Northwest Regional Sustainable Partnership for funding to pay musicians and physical activity instructors for a portion of the weekly farmers market in Park Rapids. SNAP-Ed Educator Donna Anderson partnered with the Park Rapids Farmers Market to demonstrate recipes with samples of the local foods and to lead shopping tours each month.

USDA Under Secretary visits Winona's Summer Lunch Bus program
SNAP-Ed Educator +Annette Shepardson was on hand to talk to USDA Under Secretary Katie Wilson, Ph.D. and U.S. Representative Tim Walz about the work of SNAP-Ed and University of Minnesota Extension at a summer event in Winona.
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