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Thanksgiving resources for Michigan residents

Table with Thanksgiving dishes and beverages.

Once again, as November rolls around, we begin to get questions about preparing Thanksgiving dinner and ensuring food safety. Our educators have done a great job of creating resources on our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension website. A year ago, I blogged about their work, and it was my most-read November post, so I thought it would be helpful to post it again this year in case you get calls to your offices or questions from loved ones.

In “Be Thankful for Food Safety This Thanksgiving,” Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition educator Jane Hart guides us through all of our favorite foods – turkey, stuffing, relish and pumpkin pie – and tells us how to make sure that they are safe to eat.

Jeannie Nichols, health and nutrition educator, writes about two U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations for preparing and cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, or any poultry for that matter. In her article, Jeannie explains why the USDA recommends that you do not rinse it before cooking it and that you do make sure it is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. She also explains how to most effectively measure it.

Need some help with thawing times for turkey? Laurie Messing, health and nutrition educator, shares the safe ways to thaw food in her article “Thawing the Thanksgiving Turkey.”

If you won’t have time to thaw your turkey, Jeannie writes about how to safely roast a frozen one in her “Frozen Turkey for Thanksgiving” article.

Learn from health and nutrition educator Beth Waitrovich why the USDA recommends cooking stuffing outside of your turkey.

After the last forkful of pumpkin pie, many of us have leftovers to save – another important moment in food safety. Laurie explains how to properly store and use leftover turkey.

Need help in a pinch on Thanksgiving Day? Thankfully, Laurie shares with us that the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by food safety specialists, will be answering food safety questions on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastern Time. The phone number is 1-888-674-6854.

Lastly, to refer people to safe food and water experts in their area, visit our MSU Extension website.  

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Thanksgiving resources for Michigan residents

A pumpkin pie with a piece cut out and sitting on a dish.

Photo by alcinoe at Morguefile.com

I don’t know about your offices, but here in the Director’s office, we get a lot of calls in November with questions about preparing for Thanksgiving dinner and food safety. Our educators have done a great job of getting out that information and resources on our website. I thought I’d mention some here in case you get any questions in your office or even from friends and family.

In “Be Thankful for Food Safety This Thanksgiving,” Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition educator Jane Hart guides us through all of our favorite foods – turkey, stuffing, relish and pumpkin pie – and tells us how to make sure that they are safe to eat.

Jeannie Nichols, health and nutrition educator, writes about two U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations for preparing and cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, or any poultry for that matter. In her article, Jeannie explains why the USDA recommends that you do not rinse it before cooking it and that you do make sure it is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. She also explains how to most effectively measure it.

Need some help with thawing times for turkey? Laurie Messing, health and nutrition educator, shares the safe ways to thaw food in her article “Thawing the Thanksgiving Turkey.”

If you won’t have time to thaw your turkey, Jeannie writes about how to safely roast a frozen one in her “Frozen Turkey for Thanksgiving” article.

Learn from health and nutrition educator Beth Waitrovich why the USDA recommends cooking stuffing outside of your turkey.

After the last forkful of pumpkin pie, many of us have leftovers to save – another important moment in food safety. Laurie explains how to properly store and use leftover turkey.

Looking for a new recipe to try with your turkey leftovers? Beth has a quick and easy turkey soup with vegetables that will be perfect for those chilly couple of days after the holiday.

Need help in a pinch on Thanksgiving Day? Thankfully, Laurie shares with us that the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by food safety specialists, will be answering food safety questions on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastern Time. The phone number is 1-888-674-6854.

Lastly, to refer people to safe food and water experts in their area, visit our MSU Extension website.

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MSU Extension staff members receive NEAFCS awards

Many of our fellow Michigan State University Extension colleagues received awards at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) annual session Nov. 5 at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Individual awards:

Joyce McGarry won a Continued Excellence Award, which goes to an NEAFCS member of at least 12 years. It recognizes active involvement in professional improvement programs, promotion of professional development and leadership. This is the highest honor awarded to NEAFCS members. Joyce has worked for MSU Extension for 17 years, concentrating in the areas of nutrition and food safety programming. She supervises nutrition staff in seven counties and provides leadership as co-chair of the Nutrition Physical Activity Work Team in the Health and Nutrition Institute.

Gail Innis and Brenda Long both won Michigan and National Distinguished Service awards. The award is given to members of 10 years or more. It recognizes Extension family and consumer science educators for leadership, outstanding programs, and personal and professional growth. Gail began working for MSU Extension as a program associate in 1991. She describes her current position as educator in both the Children and Youth Institute and the Health and Nutrition Institute as “the best of both worlds” where she can draw on the resources of both to serve families across the lifespan. Brenda is a senior Extension educator and has been based in Ionia County since 2002. Her programming focuses on health, financial capacity and homeownership education.

Brenda also received two national awards for health insurance education, collaborating with eleven state partners. She took third place for the Florence Hall Award, which recognizes NEAFCS members who have been alert in recognizing emerging issues or new concerns and interests of families or individuals and have planned and implemented programs that benefit families or individuals. She took first place for the Marketing Package Award for an outstanding marketing package promoting a program pertinent to family and consumer sciences issues.

Lisa Treiber won a national and Michigan Clean and Healthy Families and Communities Award. The award honors outstanding educational programming efforts that utilize any of the American Cleaning Institute’s educational materials in the areas of food safety, emergency preparedness or response, safe and effective use of cleaning products, and others.

Team awards:

Teresa Clark-Jones, Gail Innis, Carolyn Penniman, Suzanne Pish and Holly Tiret took third place nationally and second place regionally and in Michigan for the Early Childhood Child Care Training Award for the “RELAX: Alternatives to Anger for Parents and Caregivers Workshop.” The award recognizes outstanding childcare professional training that addresses the needs of young children. Over 600 participants have taken this workshop throughout Michigan and in West Virginia and Texas.

Teresa Clark-Jones, Bill Hendrian, Jean Lakin, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, Pam Sarlitto, Beth Waitrovich, Chris Venema, (all NEAFCS Members), Jim Buxton, Moses Cantu, Angela Miles Griffin, Lauren Hale, Khurram Imam, Sharon Jeffery, Scott Matteson, Vivian Washington and Rob Weber (all non-MEAFCS Members) won a national, regional and Michigan Extension Housing Outreach Award for “Michigan State University Extension Housing Programs 2013-14.” The award recognizes programming that enhances housing outreach to communities and special needs families.

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Financial & Homeownership Education work group has all the answers at Money Smart Week event

Money Smart Week, April 5 to 12, is a national public awareness campaign coordinated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to help individuals and families better manage their personal finances. More than 400 free Money Smart Week events took place throughout Michigan on topics ranging from kids and money to managing student loan debt, household budgeting and retirement.

Our Michigan State University Extension Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) work group participated in 12 Money Smart Week events throughout the eight days. One of the largest events was the Fox 2 News “Ask the Expert” program held the morning of April 7. This program consisted of both a live call-in program in the Fox 2 News studios and a live webchat on the MyFoxDetroit.com website. TV viewers either called in to the studio or went on the Web to ask questions on debt, credit, budgeting, homeownership and mortgages, retirement and investing, and fraud and scams.

The FHE team members who participated in the studio taking calls were LaShawn Brown, Terry Clark-Jones, Mike Krauch, Angela Miles, Wanda Roberts, Pam Sarlitto and Rob Weber. This group answered more than 250 calls and also talked with Fox 2 News financial reporter Murray Feldman on-air on a variety of money issues.

Answering questions in the online webchat were FHE team members Jim Buxton, Bill Hendrian, Khurram Imam, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, Jinnifer Ortquist, Beth Waitrovich and Vivian Washington. This team provided replies to more than 100 questions that came into the chat room.

Money Smart Week provided a great opportunity for the FHE work group to enhance their mission of providing financial education throughout Michigan. And I think the Ask the Expert call-in/live-chat model they’ve developed with Fox 2 News is something that might be appropriate for other program areas and work groups to consider in the future. We’ll hear more about that on the May 5 MSUE Update Webinar.

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Extension staff members help residents through property tax assistance

In a July 26, 2012, Spotlight, I told you about the Step Forward Michigan Program. The U.S. Department of the Treasury established the Hardest Hit Fund in 2010 to aid families in states hit hardest by the economic and housing market downturn. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) oversees distribution of the fund in Michigan where it’s known as the Step Forward Michigan Program.

In January 2013 through the Step Forward Michigan Program, the MSHDA added property tax assistance to their Loan Rescue Program. Homeowners that have endured a qualifying involuntary hardship that has caused them to fall behind may be eligible. Without this assistance, these homeowners, which in many cases have paid off their home mortgage, would have lost their homes due to tax foreclosure.

Our Michigan State University Extension counseling and support staff provide ongoing help to homeowners in getting questions answered, helping with the application process and correcting applications so that Macomb County residents have the best chance for assistance. Greening Michigan Extension, Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) educator Jean Lakin leads the team of Natalie Ciampichini, Helena Fleming, AmeriCorps member Alicia McMiller and Rob Weber.

Extension educator and District 11 coordinator Marie Ruemenapp said, “Macomb Executive’s Office staff and the treasurer are just ecstatic with what MSUE (Jean and her staff) have been able to do.”

“The very productive partnership between MSU Extension and the Macomb County Treasurer’s Office is really what has driven the success of this program in Macomb,” said Ted Wahby, the Macomb County treasurer. “As we reach out to delinquent taxpayers, we know we can count on Jean Lakin and her team of housing counselors at MSUE to guide people through the application process. Our team effort has resulted in more than $1.1 million dollars in back taxes paid, and more than 175 families no longer at risk of losing their home.”

Read more in this Macomb Daily article: http://www.macombdaily.com/government-and-politics/20131003/treasurers-program-collects-900000-saves-hundreds-of-homes

Macomb is not the only county taking advantage of the Step Forward Michigan program and of the help given by MSU Extension staff.

Denine Kamprath, deputy Monroe County treasurer said, “We feel that this program is a wonderful opportunity to help people that have hardship situations be able to get ‘caught up’ on the back taxes that they owe, and to keep them out of the foreclosure situation. Hopefully, by getting this assistance, they will be able to stay on track and avoid falling back into this pattern for the future. . . . Thanks for all your continuous help with our residents.”

In Monroe County, according to Deputy Treasurer Kamprath, with support from MSU Extension staff members Terry Clark-Jones and Pam Sarlitto, 18 residents have been assisted and a total amount of $113,533.94 in back taxes has been collected as of October 2013.

MSU Extension is an MSHDA-certified housing counseling agency. We have been assisting Michigan residents in applying for the tax foreclosure Step Forward Michigan funds since Jan. 15.

Other Financial and Homeownership Education work group members across the state involved in helping Michigan residents through the Step Forward Michigan program besides those mentioned above include Jim Buxton, Scott Day, Sharon Jeffery, Mike Krauch, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, AmeriCorps member Vicki Newcomb, Christine Venema, Beth Waitrovich and Vivian Washington.

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We’re not chicken about working across the organization to meet needs

What’s special about our Michigan State University Extension colleagues? When they see a need, they work together across institutes and across disciplines to get that need met.

It all began when the Salvation Army in Lenawee County distributed whole, frozen chickens and turkeys that had been donated from the 4-H fair sale to people who needed them. Janelle Stewart, Lenawee County Extension 4-H educator in the Children and Youth Institute, noticed that the recipients of the poultry needed instruction in thawing and preparing them. Janelle contacted health and nutrition Extension educator and food safety team member Jeannie Nichols about producing an educational fact sheet on poultry preparation that could be distributed at the Salvation Army food bank.

Health and Nutrition Institute food safety team members agreed that creating the fact sheet would be a worthwhile project that would meet a need in the Lenawee County community and in others. Jeannie and Extension educator Joyce McGarry developed a document that focused not only on chicken and turkey but on duck, goose and other game birds as well.

Other food safety team members, Extension educators Lisa Treiber and Beth Waitrovich, reviewed the fact sheet and sent it to ANR Communications for editing.

How to Handle Poultry and Tips on Cutting Up a Whole Bird” resulted from the desire to help others, the creativity and vision to see multiple possibilities, and the willingness to work across institutes and disciplines. Find the fact sheet in the Safe Food & Water area of the Food and Health section of the MSU Extension Web site. You may have your own use for the fact sheet in your community.

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Extension staff members win NEAFCS awards, present at conference

Michigan State University Extension staff members won several awards at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) national conference in Columbus, Ohio, Sept 27. The Michigan Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (MEAFCS) will recognize the educators at the membership meeting at Fall Extension Conference.

The Health and Nutrition Institute Food Safety Team was first place national winner and first place Central Region winner for Food Safety. The award recognizes outstanding educational programs conducted for families, school nutrition workers, food industry employees or managers, church workers preparing meals, home care providers, and other groups or individuals preparing or serving food.

The MSU Extension Food Safety Team received first place national winner award and first place Central Region winner for Food Safety at the NEAFCS national conference

The MSU Extension Food Safety Team received first place national winner award and first place Central Region winner for Food Safety at the NEAFCS national conference Sept. 27, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. Pictured left to right: Associate Dean of UNL Extension Kathleen Lodl, MSU Extension staff members Eileen Haraminac, Lisa Treiber, Joyce McGarry, Beth Waitrovich and Jeannie Nichols and NEAFCS President Amy Peterson [not present Christine Venema, Pat Joyce (retired), Jan Seitz (retired)].

 Evaluated on program objectives, program accomplishments, program impact and support materials, the team received a score of 98 out of a possible 100.

Jeannie Nichols led the team that includes Eileen Haraminac, Pat Joyce (retired), Joyce McGarry, Janet Rathke, Jan Seitz (retired), Lisa Treiber, Chris Venema and Beth Waitrovich.

The team applied for and received a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development grant allowing them to provide statewide programming in 2011. They taught face-to-face workshops around the state and developed an online training at msue.anr.msu.edu/programs/cottage_food_law.

The workshops and online training taught Michigan residents about the new 2012 Cottage Food Law and the importance of food safety practices when preparing and selling cottage foods in Michigan.

Teresa Clark-Jones led the Financial and Home Ownership Education Team, made up of mostly Greening Michigan Institute members, that took third place in the Central Region for Communications – Internet Education Technology. The award recognizes excellence in Web-based programs or Web pages.

In addition to Teresa, team members include Connie Costner Borg, Dr. Lisa Cook, Kathy Hale, Jean Lakin, Wanda Repke and Erica Tobe.

The team created www.mimoneyhealth.org with education information related to financial literacy for the public to access. On the website, consumers can take the Financial Health Survey, in which each survey participant determines his or her financial health index score and receives resources to help increase the score.

Extension educator Carolyn Penniman won a Distinguished Service Award. The Distinguished Service Award is the highest award presented by the NEAFCS. The award recognizes members for leadership, outstanding program efforts and personal and professional development.

Carolyn has been part of MSU Extension for more than 14 years, providing education in parenting education, food safety, training for foster and adoptive parents, and financial literacy. She’s participated in international Extension training and led the Poverty Reduction Initiative for Charlevoix and Emmet counties. She used a United Way grant to provide two poverty simulation workshops and develop a Money Mentor program.

Besides winning awards, MSU Extension staff members were busy presenting sessions at the conference, lending their expertise to their colleagues. Health and Nutrition Institute Extension educator Suzanne Pishpresented a session at the conference from RELAX: Alternatives to Anger, an anger management program for young people, parents and caregivers.

MSU Extension staff members presented on the Cottage Food Law at the NEAFCS national conference

MSU Extension staff members presented on the Cottage Food Law at the NEAFCS national conference Sept. 27, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. Pictured left to right: MSU Extension staff members Joyce McGarry, Rita Klavinski, Lisa Treiber, Jeannie Nichols and Beth Waitrovich. Photo credit: Eileen Haraminac.

In addition, Extension educators Joyce McGarry, Jeannie Nichols, Lisa Treiber and Beth Waitrovich of the Food Safety Team presented a session on the Cottage Food Law. Extension educator Rita Klavinski provided technology support at the conference.

Congratulations and thanks to all of our award winners and session presenters!

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