Marshall program aims to educate community about nutrition

A weekly video campaign focused on providing nutritional resources and educational entertainment for families was launched by Marshall University’s Nutrition Education Program.

“During the school year, we are out teaching in six different counties, elementary school students, kindergarten through second grade, about the importance of proper nutrition,” said Alicia Fox, director of the Marshall Nutrition Education Program.

The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a plan to still reach out and educate these students and their families, which came to fruition as a weekly Facebook video campaign, Fox said.

“What a great opportunity for the public to be able to have access to registered dieticians that want to help educate them and entertain their children and parents or guardians,” she said.

Fox said the goal of the campaign is to continue to teach nutrition and its affordability while also engaging children through activities, the first of these activities being a taste testing Tuesday.

“One of our educators, who is also a dietitian and has children, tries to stress the importance of your child may not like the food once or you may not like it, but you need to have them try it five times or five different ways,” Fox said.

Families may not have these exact foods in their pantry, but it shows them different ways to prepare food they already have and encourages them to explore their own pantry, she said

On Wednesday, Fox said they have a book reading or physical activity and on Friday, the activities alternate between a food demonstration or gardening. All the videos are posted on their Facebook page, Marshall University Nutrition Education Program, at 10 a.m.

“Research shows that if children are more engaged in the process of preparation or if they are gardening and harvesting the food, they are more likely to try these foods,” she said.

The hope is that while people are at home, they can devote more time to nutrition and exploring foods or constructing a garden, she said.

“Nutrition is important all the time, but especially when we are trying to stay extra healthy and keep our immune system in tip-top shape,” Fox said.

Vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables are important in building up immune systems and it can be affordable, she said.

“A lot of times there is a stigma with nutrition that you have to buy all kinds of special ingredients or have expensive food,” she said. “Today in our video, for example, you can see that we had frozen fruit from the freezer, it doesn’t have to be expensive fresh produce.”

Being in unprecedented circumstances with people struggling, Fox said she wanted to ensure that there is access to affordable nutritious food.

“It’s very important for us to make sure that people know that you can do it, it’s easy, and it can also make it budget friendly because we know right now a lot of people are struggling financially,” she said.

Ralph May can be contacted at [email protected].