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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.

SNAP-Ed Edcuator Annette Shepardson and Rep. Tim Walz

Annette also talked to parents accompanying their children to the "lunch bus" about the relationship between healthy eating and learning. She encouraged parents receiving SNAP benefits to use the farmers market in Winona, which began accepting EBT cards this summer. In addition, she distributed informational brochures on SNAP and answered questions about local resources for obtaining healthy foods at reasonable prices, as well as other resources for low-income families.  "A lot of kids and parents use the mobile bus, so the day was very busy," Annette said. "It was a pleasure to be there and represent the important work of Extension and SNAP-Ed."

Two school children look over the giveaways at Annette's table.

Local media covered the August 10 event, which was organized to highlight the Summer Lunch Bus program run by Winona Area Public Schools. Deputy Undersecretary Wilson has called the bus program "a model for other schools to follow." (See the full story here: USDA Under Secretary visits Winona's Summer Lunch Bus program.)

Jennifer Walters, nutrition director for the Winona School District, started the bus program after seeing the idea online. The school district purchased a bus and converted it into a "rolling cafe" that delivers lunches to children at different locations across the city from June through August. The idea is to bring the USDA's Summer Food Service program to where kids and their families are — and so reach more children in need of healthy food.

The bus itself.

Annette has worked with the Winona Area School District in many ways over the past 11 years. She serves on the Winona Community Food Access Network with Walters and is working with her on a grant project entitled "Action for Healthy Kids" to integrate more physical activity into classrooms. Annette also has taught Family Development's Go Wild curriculum in Winona elementary schools, worked with teen parents in the district's Alternative Learning Center, and has taught cooking classes to English language learners at Winona Senior High School.
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