Tag Archives: usda

National recognition for Flint water emergency response

In the photograph, left to right, are Deanna East, associate state leader for health and nutrition; Dr. Jeff Dwyer, MSU Extension director; Erin Powell, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator; Lynette Kaiser, MSU Extension health and nutrition program instructor; and Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Courtesy of USDA NIFA.

In the photograph, left to right, are Deanna East, associate state leader for health and nutrition; Dr. Jeff Dwyer, MSU Extension director; Erin Powell, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator; Lynette Kaiser, MSU Extension health and nutrition program instructor; and Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Courtesy of USDA NIFA.

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded Michigan State University (MSU) Extension the Abraham Lincoln Award for External Partnership for our response to the Flint water emergency. The Abraham Lincoln Award is the most prestigious award presented by the secretary of agriculture. The Abraham Lincoln Award for External Partnership recognizes the exceptional contributions of USDA’s external partners in innovation, productivity and efficiency in program delivery and leverage federal funding to the benefit of USDA’s customers, the external partner and USDA.

MSU Extension received this honor for “successfully responding to stakeholder needs for information about combating the effects of lead exposure to Michigan communities by developing exceptional emergency response with limited staff, time, and budget.”

I had the opportunity to travel with Deanna East, Lynette Kaiser, Erin Powell to accept the award on behalf of our organization and everyone involved in the emergency response. The USDA Abraham Lincoln Honor Award ceremony and reception took place at the USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Although only three people traveled to D.C. to receive the award on Extension’s behalf, our efforts in Flint were carried out by a large group of committed and passionate staff members. Health and nutrition staff developed programming materials and efforts to address healthy eating to mitigate lead absorption. Children and youth staff worked closely with community partners to develop resources and programs to help parents promote activities that support cognitive development. Greening Michigan and agriculture and agribusiness staff provided gardening and accessing healthy food education and soil tests. And both MSU Extension Communications and ANR Creative helped produce the resources necessary to carry out their endeavors.

We’re looking forward to the opportunity to honor all of our staff members that were part of this vital team at the Fall Extension Conference. Congratulations to the MSU Extension team on your 2016 USDA Abraham Lincoln Award for External Partnership.

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Filed under Awards, Flint Water, Uncategorized

MSU Extension receives USDA grant to support Flint families

I am pleased to announce that Michigan State University Extension was awarded a five-year grant that will fund early childhood programs and new resources for Flint families. Grant funding for the program will come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Children Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Sustainable Community Projects.

During the grant period, MSU Extension will partner with two Flint neighborhoods heavily affected by lead contamination. The goal is to build a sustainable community model for parenting and early childhood education. The two community sites will offer parents and caregivers evidence- and research-based parenting education materials and child-focused activities based on community needs. Education and spending time with caring adults can help kids succeed, and by helping parents learn how to provide these types of positive early childhood experiences, we can help them limit the effects of lead on their children.

We’re resolved to provide the Flint community with as much support as we possibly can to help address the long-term effects of lead exposure. This grant will allow us to support hundreds of Flint families and build a sustainable community partnership for continuing this work after the grant ends. Read more about this grant in the press release by Jamie Wilson here.

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Filed under Children and Youth, Flint Water, health, Health and Nutrition, MSUE News, Nutrition, Parenting, Partnerships

MSU Extension and Michigan Fitness Foundation to provide expertise in nutrition education and obesity prevention in partnership with USDA

As part of a competitive grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Purdue University is establishing one of four regional centers for research into nutrition education and obesity prevention in a nationwide USDA project. As part of this project, Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Fitness Foundation will collaborate with Purdue University and the University of Missouri to enhance nutrition education and obesity prevention efforts in the Midwest.

Our very own Dawn Contreras, director of MSU Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institute, and Marci Scott, vice president of health programming at the Michigan Fitness Foundation, will serve as associate directors of the North Central Nutrition Education Center of Excellence, which will be housed at Purdue University.

Being part of this project isn’t just a great honor; it will also be a big strategic opportunity for MSU Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institute.

According to Dawn, “Nutrition education and obesity prevention are important issues for our state and the nation. The use of strategic connections is a key strategy for dealing with these issues. The new regional center of excellence will help us link faculty, nutrition educators and implementers, and partners in a way that facilitates increased knowledge and implementation of best practices for addressing the obesity epidemic. It is an exciting new endeavor for Michigan and our surrounding states.”

Great work from Dawn and our Health and Nutrition Institute!

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Filed under grants, health

MSU Extension educators to collaborate with the Michigan Department of Education for smarter school lunches

Michigan State University Extension will be collaborating with the Michigan Department of Education on the recently awarded 2014 USDA Team Nutrition grant. MSU Extension educators across the state will be working directly with 50 schools to conduct Smarter Lunchroom Assessments in the school’s cafeterias. Schools that participate will receive a small financial incentive to complete 10 activities in the cafeteria. The MSU Extension staff members that are leading this partnership include Dawn Earnesty, Sheilah Hebert and Becky Henne.

The evidence-based activities are designed to equip schools with tools that improve children’s eating behaviors, and improve the cafeteria environment and food offerings. Thirty-five of those schools will also be given the opportunity to receive additional support from MSU Extension staff to implement a Healthier School Environment Toolkit. The toolkit will include resources on Coordinated School Health Teams, Healthy School Action Tool Assessment, Local School Wellness Policies, Smart Snacks legislation and other evidence-based strategies such as taste testing, working with student teams, healthy meetings, and adult and peer modeling and coaching to make healthy choices.

MSU Extension staff will receive specialized training on conducting Smarter Lunchroom Assessments, a program designed by the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs.

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Filed under Accomplishments, Nutrition

Michigan Fresh has even more to offer

In a March 27 Spotlight, I mentioned how our Michigan State University Extension Michigan Fresh program educates on fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamentals as well as food safety, food storage, food preservation and gardening. In addition to this long list of important subjects, the Michigan Fresh work team is also busy on many other projects.

Extension educator Eileen Haraminac took over the coordination of the Michigan Fresh team upon Kathe Hale’s retirement.

Extension educator Joyce McGarry is busy heading up new fact sheet development. The team consists of Mary Dunckel, Michelle Jarvie, Ronald E. Kinnunen, Amanda Knox, Laurie Messing, Jeannie Nichols, Jeannine Schweihofer and Rob Weber. Team members arecompiling information on meats: pork, lamb, poultry, beef and fish. In the future, they will compile information for fact sheets on dairy products. Michigan Fresh fact sheets have been available at many of the farmers markets throughout the state as well as online. The fact sheets are also available in Arabic and Spanish. Find them on the Michigan Fresh website: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/mi_fresh

Other future fact sheets will focus on Michigan chestnuts (Erin Lizotte, Extension educator in the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute) and growing hops (Greening Michigan Institute Extension educator Rob Sirrine).

Extension program instructor Stephanie Bruno heads up the team that’s developing recipe cards. The team consists of Jennifer Berkey, Becky Henne and Connie Kurple. These new recipe cards will be distributed at several farmers markets to encourage consumers to purchase Michigan-grown food to use as simple ingredients.

 Kristine Hahn and Eileen Haraminac as well as Sean Corp and other MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications staff are collaborating with the Eastern Market Corporation to promote a new product ‒ Michigan Fresh Frozen fruits and vegetables. The group is working on recipe cards to be distributed at Detroit Eastern Market and through the Peaches & Greens mobile produce trucks. The cards will promote both the Michigan Fresh program and the new Eastern Market Corporation Michigan Fresh Frozen products.

Eileen said, “We want to encourage people to choose nutrient-packed frozen fruits and vegetables when fresh are unavailable. Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing are processed at their peak ripeness ‒ time when, as a general rule, they are most nutrient packed.

Extension associate program leader Becky Henne heads up the social media team. Team members are busy working to build a smartphone app and to develop additional videos. They hope to have the app ready to roll out for the 2015 season. This group is working with Dr. Dru Montri, executive director of Michigan Farmers Market Association; Colleen Matts, farm to institution outreach specialist with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems; and Dr. Norm Lownds, curator of the 4-H Children’s Garden. Additional team members from both the Health and Nutrition Institute and the Greening Michigan Institute include Julie Darnton, Joanne Davidhizar, Dawn Earnesty, Kristine Hahn, Sheilah Hebert, Maggie Kantola and Kendra Wills.

Dr. Cheryl Peters, Maggie Kantola and Kendra Wills have been working with the Michigan Fresh team to develop a common evaluation tool for Michigan Fresh cooking demonstrations offered at the Detroit Eastern Market and the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. These cooking demonstrations benefit the promotion of the Michigan Fresh fact sheets and videos. The free, public demonstrations are designed to inspire people to purchase and consume more Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables. The evaluation tool will gather information from cooking demonstration observers. Recipes used in the cooking demonstrations come from the Michigan Fresh fact sheets and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With coordination from Extension educator Terry McLean, MSU Extension will staff a kiosk at the Flint Farmers Market this spring.

Michigan Fresh is a great collaboration not only between our own institutes but between local organizations and farmers markets as well.

If you are interested in promoting the Michigan Fresh campaign materials at your community farmers market, please contact Eileen Haraminac (haramin2@anr.msu.edu) for more information.

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Filed under Food

Extension secretary receives recognition from NIFA director

Bonnie Powell, secretary in Michigan State University Extension Tuscola County Health and Nutrition Institute, received a note and certificate of appreciation from Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Bonnie works on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ‒ Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) data entry.

The certificate of appreciation is for taking initiative to improve the functionality of WebNEERS and the accuracy of reports. WebNEERS is the Web-based Nutrition Education Evaluation and Reporting System for NIFA. Bonnie’s contributions greatly improved the WebNEERS system for users across the country.

Stephanie Blake, WebNEERS project coordinator at the USDA, spoke to Kathy Raphael, MSU Extension associate program leader, at the National EFNEP Coordinators Conference in Washington, D.C. at the end of February about how invaluable Bonnie’s contributions were and Kathy asked that I repeat the compliment. In a separate note, Stephanie writes that she can’t thank Bonnie enough for all of her help. She has truly made a huge difference with WebNEERS. Way to go, Bonnie!

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Filed under Accomplishments

USDA study reports MSU Extension’s role in leading older adults to make healthy food choices

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a study Dec. 5 demonstrating that well-designed nutrition education programs can lead to healthier food choices by participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The study, SNAP Education and Evaluation Study (Wave II), evaluated the impact of several nutrition education programs on fruit and vegetable consumption among elementary school children and seniors living in low-income situations. It evaluated programs implemented by the Iowa Nutrition Network, the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and Michigan State University Extension.

Our MSU Extension colleagues provided nutrition education expertise to income-eligible senior adults. Researchers found that participants in the Eat Smart, Live Strong program increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The results of the study show the role of nutrition education in helping SNAP-Ed participants make healthy food choices. MSU Extension plays a strategic part in delivering that education as well as fully documenting the outcomes of our work.

I’d like to thank Dr. Olga Santiago, MSU Extension health and nutrition specialist, for her leadership in the program. Dr. Santiago, along with Health and Nutrition Institute director Dr. Dawn Contreras and former state SNAP-Ed coordinator Ben Chamberlain were principal investigators on the project. It took many people to work on the study design, study implementation, data analysis and report. The program involved program assistants and instructors, educators, supervisory educators, data entry staff and business office support staff across 13 counties ‒ too numerous to mention here but appreciated nonetheless. Thank you to everyone for a successful outcome. Thanks also to the older adults and senior center managers who completed the evaluation surveys and participated in the study. Congratulations to all!

Read the SNAP Education and Evaluation Study (Wave II) including two individual reports on MSU Extension’s role: http://www.fns.usda.gov/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-education-and-evaluation-study-wave-ii

Read this USDA FNS news release about the study:  http://www.fns.usda.gov/pressrelease/2013/fns-001313

Read this ANR Communications news release about the study: http://anrcom.msu.edu/anrcom/news/item/msu_extension_snap_ed_program_helps_low_income_older_adults_eat_healthier

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Filed under Nutrition