Category Archives: Family and Consumer Sciences

Dining with Diabetes is Coming to Dover!

Dining with Diabetes is a program designed for people with diabetes and their family members. The five-class series includes diabetes education, cooking demonstrations, and tasting of healthy foods. Due to generous funding from the Greater Milford Lions Club, residents of Greater Milford can enroll in this class free of charge.  Classes will be held at the Kent County Cooperative Extension office, 69 Transportation Circle, Dover on March 4, 18, 25, April 1, and July, 2019 from 6-8 pm. Cost $50.00 Call 302-730-4000 to request a registration brochure.

Free Money for College – What a Holiday Gift!

By Jesse Ketterman, University of Maryland Extension

College tuition continues to increase.  According to information provided by the College Board, tuition and fees increased almost 2 percent last year.  At times this number has been as high as 10 percent in recent years.  Students are expected to cover this increase year after year.  Where can you find money to cover the increased cost?

Whether you or your child are applying to college or already registered, you should submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA. FAFSA is not just for need-based loans and grants assistance. The FAFSA can determine whether a student is eligible for federal student aid such as grants, loans, and work-study, as well as awards and scholarships.

Timing is everything when it comes to receiving free money. You are able to complete the FAFSA as early as October 1st if you’re planning to attend college the following fall semester. The deadline can vary depending upon the state, but in Maryland the deadline is March 1st.  Each institution may also have its own deadline. But you should not be focusing on the deadline, as financial aid offices start putting together financial aid packages much sooner. I recommend that you complete your FAFSA between October 1st to December 31st.

So the next question is, where to start? The Federal Student Aid (FSA) website contains all of the information you need to complete the FAFSA. Make sure you have the following items ready when submitting:

  • FSA ID (your login and password for your online FAFSA account)
  • Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number
  • Federal tax returns
  • w-2 forms
  • Bank statements

If you are a dependent, you will also need your parents’ information, including their FSA ID to authorize the application. Before you start applying make sure to understand the process by watching this overview video and step-by-step video tutorial.

One more thing: the FAFSA is something you need to complete every year. So, mark October 1, 2019 on your calendar.



Tis the Season – For Health Insurance!

Smart Choice Health Insurance logo

Now that Halloween is over, we all start thinking about the upcoming holidays—but you should also be thinking about health insurance.  November 1 to December 15 is open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace, which is where you can get health insurance if you can’t otherwise get it through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Do you really need health insurance?

When money is tight, it’s easy to overlook the importance of health insurance. But without insurance, you are less likely to get medical care when needed. What you think is a minor ailment could end up lasting longer than necessary, or even result in a major medical condition going undiagnosed. All of which can lead to lost time from work, less money in your pocket, and possibly even a shorter life span. Having and using health insurance helps you stay healthy by preventing illness and identifying and managing chronic conditions. Health insurance also reduces your health care expenses. Reports tell us that medical bills from major illnesses are one of the largest reasons for bankruptcies. (We definitely don’t want this to happen.)

You may still be worrying about the cost, but don’t let that stop you from getting a plan. When you apply in Maryland, you may qualify for financial assistance! Maryland Health Connection reports that last year, 90% of people who enrolled in insurance received financial assistance. So why not give it a try? The risk of not having insurance is far worse.

Here’s how you can get insurance now!

Between now and December 15 make sure that you get health insurance.  If you live in Delaware visit the Choose Health Delaware website. If you live in Maryland, visit the Maryland Health Connection, click on the “How to Enroll” tab, and sign up for a plan.

If you need help, assistance is always available by clicking the “Find Help” tab.  Local navigators are also available to meet with you in-person. In New Castle County, make an appointment with a Westside Family Healthcare assistor. Call 302-472-8655. In Kent/Sussex Counties, call Westside Family Healthcare assistors at 302-678-2205.

We have also developed some consumer resources to help you through this process. I highly recommend that you look at the Marketplace Health Insurance Financial Help information sheet and the My Smart Choice Workbook.  You will notice two workbooks (content is the same) on the website.  One has auto-populated forms which means that you can enter numbers and totals are calculated automatically.

-Jesse Ketterman University of Maryland Extension Educator

Gift Giving on a Budget


Christmas presentsAs the holiday season approaches, do you find yourself looking forward to the festivities, but concerned about the impact on your wallet? You are not alone. By doing some planning now, you can simplify your gift giving. Here are ten ways you can enjoy this special time of year and keep spending in check:

  1. Food. Consumable items are very popular during the holidays. The recipients may enjoy the product themselves or share it with others when entertaining. Consider special breads, beverages, fruit baskets, snack items, regional favorites, and gourmet coffees and teas.
  2. Go green. Find locally grown plants, flowers, and dried wreaths. Another option might be to purchase colorful washable napkins, placemats, dishcloths, reusable bags, and lunch bags with individual containers for sandwiches and snacks.
  3. Set limits. This could be done by establishing a dollar amount per gift, completing your shopping in only one or two trips, purchasing one gift per family, or committing to doing all your shopping locally.
  4. Made by you. Make your own food specialty. Knit a scarf. Hand craft an item. Create an annual holiday ornament. Give a framed photo.
  5. Hobby-related gift or gift certificates. Consider the recipient’s hobbies and interests. Are there gardeners, chefs, woodworkers, knitters, readers and gamers on your list? Gift accordingly by providing them with the tools or materials to do what they enjoy.
  6. Agree on a gift challenge. Discuss this idea well in advance of the holidays with those whom you regularly exchange gifts, but make it fun. You might suggest handmade items only, gifts under $10, one gift for a whole family, limit shopping to consignment or thrift store finds or pick a theme such as useful or consumable items only.
  7. Purchase the same type of gift for everyone. It could be umbrellas, scarfs, journals, board games, puzzles, nice pens, throws, books, or flashlights and batteries.
  8. Recipe Book. You could make up a recipe book with family favorites or provide a blank recipe book for the great cooks in your life.
  9. Coupons for your services. Offer your time and abilities. You can create coupons related to your skills. Perhaps it is cooking a favorite meal, snow shoveling, home repair or an oil change, mending, guitar lessons and so on.
  10. Create a special memory. Look in newspapers or online for special events this holiday that are free or low cost. Instead of purchasing gifts, make a date with your family and friends to enjoy an event together and get together for desserts and coffee.

Most importantly: enjoy your holidays!


Extension gathers with a focus on collective impact

Conference Focus on Collaboration with a Collective Impact, Cultural Literacy and Community Engagement

Rebecca Kelley at the lectern
Rebecca Kelley, National 4-H Council, shared the effective ways in which collected partnerships can take shape within communities for optimal efficiency and impact

How can Delaware Cooperative Extension professionals adopt new ways of collaboration to more efficiently address the needs of Delawareans? Working toward a collective impact,  appreciating Delaware’s diversity, sharing innovative ideas, and serving as ambassadors of engaged institutions served as answers that commanded attention at the 2018 Delaware Cooperative Extension Conference held on Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Modern Maturity Center Dover.

The conference, a professional development event gathering Extension professionals from University of Delaware and Delaware State University, also continued its tradition to celebrate Friends of Extension honoring local partners, supporters and volunteers who contribute to the success of Extension outreach throughout the state.

Keynote highlights
Rebecca Kelley, Director of Development with National 4-H Council, shared the “Collective Impact” concept in her keynote speech before 100 registered attendees.

Kelley identified two forms of leadership; “Technical leadership,” which typically offers a rapid, clear cut response to an issue, and “Adaptive Leadership,” which embraces a nuanced, collective style that encourages multi-level partnerships to address not only a problem, but why it occurred in the first place. 

Kelley’s work with 4-H intersects with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and that organizations partnership with others, including extension, that concentrates on health and Well Connected Communities working on local health issues and examining PSE, Policies, Systems and Environment in place in local populations.

“Sometimes powerful people can make a play, but sometimes it takes a wide variety and a large group of people,” Kelley said. “As you move in the direction of collective impact, it often requires that we work in partnership.”

Leadership doesn’t always mean taking the lead role, Kelly emphasized. “While the answer to every question is not collective impact, sometimes you truly do need to work through a diverse cross sector of stakeholders, in coalitions, and networks. It requires an different aspects of leadership and different understandings of how to work together and for our organizations to show up a little bit differently,” Kelly told the audience.

Kelley sees extension’s brand as a ‘guide on the side.’ “Extension can use its leverage, its amazing abilities and its amazing depth in the community into the work of Well Connected Communities and help address the issues of not having a culture of health in this country.”

Cultural literacy and working as engaged institutions

Adam Foley speaking at lectern
Adam Foley stressed the importance of cultural literacy as a key component to successful communications

Effective partnerships require a full understanding of diverse populations and the experiences they bring to the table. Adam Foley, associate director of UD’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion encouraged his audience in the afternoon session to consider their own unique experiences  and develop cultural fluency. “Our audiences we encounter will bring different ways of thinking and ways of approaching a problem,” Foley reminded the gathering. ”As we begin to think about the programs we design and implement, the ways that we will reach out to the community in different capacities, there are different layers of culture that have an impact on how we interact.”

Foley emphasized that all communication is cultural. The ways in which we choose to communicate with each other and present ourselves, the times that we meet people and interact, reducing award moments, particularly meeting someone the first time, are all reliant on a powerful insight of cultural fluency.

Dan Rich speaking holding the Civic Action Plan
Dan Rich explains extension’s role in the Community Engagement Initiative’s Civic Action Plan.

Dan Rich, professor of Public Policy and director of UD’s Community Engagement Initiative spoke passionately about the rise and fall of America’s investment in higher education and what it means to be an engaged community. He shared UD’s Civic Action Plan and announced a similar plan for DSU was in development.  

Rich pointed to the post World War II era as a watershed moment for colleges and universities across the nation, largely due to the implementation of the GI Bill, which allowed institutions, then known as Cold War institutions, to grow and offer affordable education.“This investment literally created the middle class,” Rich told the audience.

“We had a massive public investment in education,” Rich said.  He further explained that a federal investment, along with governors and elected officials across the nation, grew in stature because they believed that the investment in education was the key to American prosperity.

That support began to erode in the 1980s and has waned since.  “Increasingly higher education was thought in terms of a private view,” Rich said. “Something in which you benefit, so you should pay.” This view grew to the challenge higher ed institutions face today–tuition costs. “This is an issue. It is a big deal.”

“What I think is missing, is a clear model of how to restore the broader public vision of higher education. You don’t get people to change by telling them not what to do. So, how do we do this?” he asked colleagues.

“I am here to ask you, to invite you to see the work that you do, already, is part something larger, more sustained, and we have an active coalition that projects the future that we actually want to have in place in our institution.”  

“We created the modern university systems and we built what we have today. The answer is no group is going to do it alone. As long as community engagement and public service is seen as something ‘they do’ we are not going to make any progress,” Rich said.

UD’s Civic Action Plan, Rich said, arose from a grassroots movement among faculty, students and staff and is a model to “be the change you want to see.”  

“Basically what we did is we documented what you [extension] do,” Rich exclaimed. “The Community Engagement Initiative is a way to sustain these efforts, an opportunity to go to the next stage.”  Rich called to attention the pages and pages of people listed in the plan, community leaders and organizations, who served on crafting the model. “They have to get involved, this is part of who they are.”

“My message to you, we can do this, but nobody can do it alone. No single unit can do it. Take this plan and make it better. I believe I think we are ready, two thirds of the way to implement what is in this plan,” Rich emphasized.  “People will come together. What they are uniting around, I think, is this larger vision of the public purpose and see the work that we do in that context.”

Friend of Extension Awards

Donna Brown, associate dean and director of Cooperative Extension at Delaware State University and Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of extension at UD, presented the Friend of Extension Awards which celebrated the non-extension person, business or organization and the partnerships formed to support of extension efforts across the program areas of agriculture, lawn and garden, family and consumer science and 4-H Youth Development.

University of Delaware

  • Luke McConnell  – Agriculture. Owner of McConnell Agronomics, McConnell’s work as a certified crop advisor intersects with and provides valuable resources as a scientific advisor and grower advocate to Cooperative Extension for several years. McConnell is essential member of of UD’s  lima bean/pathogen research team and played a major role in obtaining $1.6 million in funds to research lima bean pathogens from the USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative program. He shares his experiences with watermelons, sweet corn, and other vegetable crops and his input has informed recommendations to growers in the Mid-Atlantic Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations and extension’s IPM program. (Not present for picture).
  • Sussex Master Gardeners hold award
    L-R- Tracy Wootten, Master Gardeners Jessica Clark and Brent Marsh and Michelle Rodgers, UD director of extension

    Sussex Master Gardeners – Lawn and Garden. The Sussex County Master Gardeners, a large cadre of community volunteers were recognized for the development and continued success of “The Misadventures of Peter Rabbit in Farmer McGregor’s Garden” a puppet show performance that since 2008 has reached 11,000 Delaware youth.  Loosely based on the Beatrix Potter classic, the performance creatively touts the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. Their effort received recognition from the International Society of Master Gardeners and is being imitated across three states. now has spinoffs in three other states.

  • Sussex County Health Coalition
    L-R: Nancy Mears, UD-FCS agent, Peggy Geisler, SCHC executive director and Lisa Coldiron, SCHC grant manager with Michelle Rodgers, UD director of extension

    Sussex County Health Coalition –Family and Consumer Science. A partnership lasting 15 years, and collaboration with more than 50 partnering organizations, including Extension, Sussex County Health Coalition (SCHC)  engages the entire community through collaborative, family-focused efforts to improve the health of children, youth and families in Sussex County. UD Cooperative Extension benefits significantly through this partnership. The SCHC provides meeting space for extension programming, financial support to expand Botvins Life Skills training to all Sussex County school districts, creates a scholarship program for “Dining with Diabetes” classes for Sussex Countians to attend free of charge and most recently, financially supports a pilot of the first ever Teen Health Ambassadors for Botvin Life Skills program as part of the national Well Connected Communities Initiative. In Seaford High School, this effort directly addresses opioid abuse through peer to peer education.

  • Delaware State Police and Camp Barnes. L-R, 4-H educators Kaleb Scott, Kaitlin Klair, DSP’s Sgt. Shawn Hatfield, Lt. Col. Monroe Hudson, Ernie Lopez, Delaware 4-H extension specialist and Michelle Rodgers, UD director of extension

    Delaware State Police – 4-H. 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Delaware State Police and Delaware 4-H State Camp at Camp Barnes, a facility owned and operated by the State Police in Frankford. Since 1948, a year after Camp Barnes was founded, thousands of Delaware 4-H youth continue to enjoy the peace, serenity, and beauty of Camp Barnes. While activites have evolved over the years, the goal of this 70-year partnership remains the same: to provide Delaware 4-H youth a meaningful overnight camp experience at a safe facility where youth feel welcomed, respected and valued. The Delaware State Police Camp Barnes staff serves as a vital part of the success of this partnership.  More than 20,000 youth have experienced this beautiful setting with camps such as the two-week Delaware 4-H State Camp, Environmental Camp and Younger Member Weekends.

Delaware State University

  • Dr. Hong-Wa

    Dr. Hong-Wa – Lawn and Garden. Curator of DSU’s Claude E. Phillips Herbarium, she oversees 220,000 plant materials in Delmarva. She is a vital part of Master Gardener advanced trainings

  • Crystal Thompkins

    Crystal Thompkins – Family and Consumer Science. Thompkins is a SNAP-Ed educator and strong advocate for youth education in reading, writing, STEM, nutrition and physical education.

  • Miriam and James T. Brittingham

    James T. and Miriam Brittingham – 4-H. This Kent County couple is recognized for 20 years of community service and seven years of direct involvement as leaders in the  4-H program.

Article by Michele Walfred. Photos by Michele Walfred and Monica Moriak






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Innovative coalition to battle opioid abuse in Seaford, Delaware

When individuals, organizations and communities collaborate to solve pressing local issues, innovative ideas result.

A coalition of committed community partners is changing things in Seaford, Delaware where 11 students from Seaford High School were recruited and trained as peer-to-peer educators to reach students and share proven life skills that will empower for middle school students to make smarter choices. “Sussex Goes Purple” is  part of a new, national initiative called Well Connected Communities — an effort to cultivate wellness across the country.

Sussex County Health Coalition led the effort, securing a grant which covers the mentor training, a stipend for the student mentors at the beginning and end of the year-long program.   

National 4-H Council and the Cooperative Extension System, which includes land grant institutions like the University of Delaware, are partners in the coalition equipping volunteer leaders to help their neighbors be healthier at every stage of life. With the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health, the goal is to cultivate wellness and foster a “culture of health” in communities across America.

Seaford High School senior Tyesha Seymore heard about an opportunity to reduce the rising rate of opioid use in her community and  jumped at the chance to make a difference. According to the State of Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Delaware ranks ninth in the nation in drug overdose death rates. In substance abuse prevention programs, early education is viewed as extremely important.

“Since I am younger, I feel like I can connect better with the youth in our area,” said Seymore. “When I go to middle school to teach these kids, I hope they become leaders and spread the word.”

Seymore, along with 10 other Seaford High School students, spent three days in August training with University of Delaware faculty and staff to become peer educators and health ambassadors. 

In Delaware, the Sussex County Health Coalition identified Seaford as an innovator community — looking at how health needs of the community can be addressed in new, creative ways. The youth health ambassador and peer educator model is an example of that.

“Ten of the 11 students came from an existing school club structure — National FFA,” says Gina Crist, community health specialist with UD Cooperative Extension. “The camaraderie and regular meeting space presented an ideal environment for follow-up with the students as the effort progresses.”

Once trained, the Seaford 11 will deliver Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST), a nationally recognized anti-substance abuse curriculum. Traditionally, Botvin is offered as a provider training model, with Delaware 4-H educators presenting the evidence-based program to adult teachers for presentation in middle school classrooms.

A new model

“We wanted to determine if youth ambassadors would be more effective in delivering the message than adult teachers,” Crist said. “Now we are rolling it out, keeping the fidelity of the curriculum intact, but using a new teaching method.”

As the first model in the country to use direct peer-to-peer education, everyone involved in the effort is eager to see the results. Pre- and post-tests will be analyzed by Botvin at the national level.

The first day of the Seaford students’ training focused on the Botvins LifeSkills Training Curriculum taught by Delaware 4-H Botvins educator Lindsay Hughes. Botvin’s interactive lessons emphasizes feedback, role playing, mindfulness and specific life skills designed to empower students to resist the pressures that often accompany making a wrong decision regarding violence, tobacco, alcohol or drug abuse. Botvin LST boasts a 75 percent reduction in drug us from their program.  

“The students were great to work with and worked well together,” said Hughes. “I am excited to see the results from the peer to peer teaching that the youth will be participating in this school year.”    

On day two, Crist provided “Ages and Stages” classroom management techniques for teaching younger students. The Seaford 11 learned about diversity and different learning styles.

On the final day of training, the students heard real life stories of addiction and recovery. Sussex County Health Coalition’s Peggy Geisler and Lisa Coldiron, who introduced Seaford Goes Purple — a drug-free campaign launching in Seaford. The students were encouraged to extend their roles beyond the classroom. Both presenters encouraged the students to extend their roles beyond the classroom as community leaders and health ambassadors in the Well Connected Community initiative — building the force of volunteers in the community working to make a change.

The students all volunteered for the effort and only later learned that they will also receive a stipend (due to funding from the Sussex County Health Coalition).  

“I hope that I can prepare our younger peers for the future and to make better decisions,” said senior Mackenzie Brown.

UD Cooperative Extension Michelle Rodgers, who also serves as the Well Connected Communities program director at the national level, traveled to Seaford to thank the students personally for their involvement.  

“Our preliminary reach shows that it is far more effective, and makes way much more difference when peers hear from peers,” Rodgers said. “You are real kids and going to talk to real kids. You are some of the first in the country doing this, and the work you are doing is really important. We are going to be following the work you do, which will be a model for the rest of the country.”

In addition to grant monies, Sussex County Health Coalition connected with sponsors who include the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Discover Bank, Highmark, AmeriHealth, Nanticoke, Beebe and Bayhealth hospitals.


Having Fun with Fall Foods

When you think about eating healthy, fun might not be the first word that comes to mind, probably not even the second.  The truth is that eating heathy SHOULD be fun and CAN be fun.

Fall is my favorite season.  The crisp air, changing colors of the leaves, and not least of all, the tasty seasonal fruits and vegetables.  Between apples, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and many more it is hard to pick a favorite, but I would have to say that pumpkin tops my list.  There are many different ways to use pumpkin in recipes that you already make.  With Delaware being chock full of Farmers Markets (follow the link to find one near you) you can pick up a fresh pumpkin, bake or roast it, and use it in a variety of ways. What I’m going to talk about though, is pureed pumpkin.  To be honest, for convenience sake I use canned.  You can get canned pumpkin at your local grocery store.  I recently found some on sale for just $1.00 a can!  The best part is canned, frozen, or fresh- pumpkin is equally nutritious.

The key to buying canned pumpkin is to look for 100% pumpkin.  The only item listed in the Ingredient list should be “pumpkin”.  A lot of time canned pumpkin is right next to the canned pumpkin pie filling.  Not only is canned pumpkin pie filling less nutritious (i.e. a lot more sugar), it also probably wouldn’t taste as good in some of ways I’ll soon describe.  In just ½ cup of 100% canned pumpkin you get about 250% of your daily vitamin A, 3 grams of fiber, and 6% of your daily iron needs, all for only 50 calories.  If you’re looking to boost your veggie intake without really changing up what you are already eating you can easily add pumpkin into your favorite meals.  Add a few scoops to your morning oatmeal.  You can add pumpkin pie spice to really give it a fall feel or flavor it as you normally would.  The coolest thing about pumpkin (in my opinion at least) is that unless you add a large amount it really doesn’t change the flavor of what you add it to.  The flavor that we normally associate with pumpkin is actually the spices that we add to it.  This means you can add pureed pumpkin to savory meals without making it taste like a dessert.  Think mac and cheese, lasagna, or my personal fall favorite, chili!

pumpkin five ways recipes

The pumpkin adds a thickness and a nice color, but keeps the same yummy chili flavor that so many of us love.  I’m not the only one who agrees.  The video below shows Cooperative Extension Educator & fellow Living Great in the First State blogger, Kathleen Splane, making a Pumpkin Chili of her own.  Watch & learn how.  It’s easy I promise.


At the Grocery Store Fill Your Cart Like MyPlate

Grocery cart with several grocery items in it including milk, vegetables, eggs and bread.As we go into the grocery store we are bombarded by thousands of wonderful, tempting sights and smells, some healthy and some more flavorful than healthy. We’ve all heard that we should use a list when shopping to keep our grocery budget in check but in our fast-paced lives today, it’s hard to take the time to make that list. So when faced with preparing meals at home we may not have the best ingredients on hand because we have been tempted by options that might not have been the healthiest. Filling your shopping cart to mimic the USDA MyPlate icon can be a quick way to insure that you have the supplies on hand for tasty, healthy meals.

MyPlate is a visual that shows proportionally how much should be eaten from each of the food groups in order to consume enough nutrients to maintain good health.  Unlike the Food Guide Pyramid that Americans found confusing, this simple visual seems to click with consumers.  The cart in the picture is MyPlate with real food to mimic the proportions needed.  The website is full of great information including more specifics of how much should be eaten from the different groups based on gender and age. There are also great tools, tips and recipes on that site.

Doing a little math can assure you have enough of the right foods in the house to eat according to MyPlate. If you shop once a week you can calculate the amount of food from each group needed based on how much is needed daily.

Choose My Plate LogoOne of the most eye opening parts of MyPlate relates to the protein group.  You will notice that it takes up a very small portion of the cart.  When we think about what’s for dinner we always think about the main dish-hamburgers, chicken, fish and then side dishes are a second thought.  Americans need much less food from the protein group than most of us consume. When the comment is made “it costs too much to eat healthy”, it’s always good to remember that we can save by spending less on the protein group.  Not only buying less meat but also using non-meat sources of protein like eggs and beans can be easier on the budget.  For a family of four with mom, dad and two teenage girls, a total of 7 pounds of meat products need to be purchased for a week.  If non-meat sources are used like beans, peanut butter and eggs, you can find the conversions on  Only buying 7 pounds of meat each week can be easy on the food budget.

You will notice in the grains group of the shopping cart you see plenty of whole grains.  The grains group is an important source of complex carbohydrates for energy, B vitamins, minerals and fiber.  By consuming half of your grains in whole grains, you will be starting to meet your fiber goals for the day.  For that same family of four, 133 grain equivalents are needed at the store of which 67 should be whole grains.  This may sound like a lot but ½ cup of pasta is one grain equivalent.  Check for what counts as a grain equivalent.

The largest portion of MyPlate is the vegetable group.  Many Americans feel they need to eat fresh vegetables in order to get the nutrients they need from this group.  That is not true as frozen and canned are nutrient packed and much more economical. Keeping the freezer and cabinets full of vegetables provides options that are ready to eat with little or no preparation.  Mom, Dad and two teenage girls would need 56 cups of canned, frozen or fresh vegetables per week.

Biting into a fresh apple can help you meet the nutrient needs supplied by the fruit group but just like the vegetable group, canned and frozen fruits are great to have on hand.  Select canned fruit in their own juice and fruit that is frozen without added sugar.  The family of four would need 35 cups of fruit each week.

In addition, don’t forget about the dairy group.  Although it is off to the side, it’s important to consume dairy products every day to meet your daily calcium and vitamin D needs.  Although some foods like broccoli contain calcium, you would need to consume 4 cups of broccoli to get as much calcium in a cup of fat free milk. Purchase fat free or low fat dairy products to keep the calories and fat in check. The family that is mentioned would need 63 cups of milk each week if that were the only source of their dairy foods.  In the dairy section of you will find other products besides milk that count towards your dairy consumption.

Planning ahead and shopping like MyPlate will assure less trips to the store, which can save money, and also assure that the right amounts of healthy foods are on hand for the week.  Of course, there is always room for the occasional treat that doesn’t really fall into any part of MyPlate.   Everything in moderation-Happy Shopping!

Written by Kathleen Splane May, 2018

What’s in Your Lunchbox?

Closeup photo of a ham sandich with tomatoes and lettuce.Recently in the News Journal there have been articles about the closure of several popular Delaware eateries as a result of poor food handling and unsanitary conditions.  But did you know that these same problems exist in people’s homes and can lead to the same outcome of food-borne illness?  This time of year when more lunches are being packed it’s important to keep food safety in mind. And coincidentally September is National Food Safety month.  Here’s some things to keep in mind to pack a safe lunch.

Separate: Don’t Cross Contaminate:

  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a different one for meat and poultry
  • Discard all food packaging and food bags after use.
  • Perishable leftovers should be discarded after lunch.
  • Clean the lunch box after each use with warm soapy water

Wash All Produce:

  • Rinse fresh fruit and vegetables under running tap water prior to packing them for lunch
  • All fresh fruit and vegetables need to be rinsed prior to use or consumption including all organic produce and those with skin and rinds that are not eaten
  • Blot dry with a single use paper towel or a clean towel

Keep Everything Clean:

  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before packing a lunch and before eating lunch.
  • Wash utensils and countertops before and after preparing each food item
  • Encourage children to wash their hands prior to eating lunch at school but pack a moist towelette or hand sanitizer to be safe.

If Packing Cold Food-Keep Lunches Cold:

  • Keeping food cold slows bacterial growth
  • Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in temperature danger zone (between 40 and 140° F)
  • Keep perishable food items refrigerated until time to leave home
  • Include a frozen gel pack or frozen juice box
  • Use an insulated lunch bag or lunch box
  • Do not let lunch sit in a warm place such as the car or in the sun

If Packing Hot Food-Keep Lunches Hot:

  • Use an insulated container to keep food like soup and stew hot
  • Fill container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then fill with piping hot food.
  • Keep container closed tight until lunch time
  • Keep hot food at or above 140° F
  • Perishable food items will stay safe for only 2 hours at room temperature.

There is great consumer food safety information at this site or feel free to contact me, Kathleen Splane with questions

Separate: Don’t Cross Contaminate:

  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a different one for meat and poultry
  • Discard all food packaging and food bags after use.
  • Perishable leftovers should be discarded after lunch.
  • Clean the lunch box after each use with warm soapy water

Wash All Produce:

  • Rinse fresh fruit and vegetables under running tap water prior to packing them for lunch
  • All fresh fruit and vegetables need to be rinsed prior to use or consumption including all organic produce and those with skin and rinds that are not eaten
  • Blot dry with a single use paper towel or a clean towel

Keep Everything Clean:

  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before packing a lunch and before eating lunch.
  • Wash utensils and countertops before and after preparing each food item
  • Encourage children to wash their hands prior to eating lunch at school but pack a moist towelette or hand sanitizer to be safe.

If Packing Cold Food-Keep Lunches Cold:

  • Keeping food cold slows bacterial growth
  • Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in temperature danger zone (between 40 and 140° F)
  • Keep perishable food items refrigerated until time to leave home
  • Include a frozen gel pack or frozen juice box
  • Use an insulated lunch bag or lunch box
  • Do not let lunch sit in a warm place such as the car or in the sun

If Packing Hot Food-Keep Lunches Hot:

  • Use an insulated container to keep food like soup and stew hot
  • Fill container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then fill with piping hot food.
  • Keep container closed tight until lunch time
  • Keep hot food at or above 140° F
  • Perishable food items will stay safe for only 2 hours at room temperature.

There is great consumer food safety information at this site or feel free to contact me, Kathleen Splane with questions






Money Minutes

Financial Management Initiatives

(each of the links below has information that describe program initiatives, respectable web links and publications if applicable)

Your Money, Your Goals-A Financial Empowerment Toolkit for Social Services Programs Training Opportunity – This one day session provides training for individuals who may find themselves in need of resources to support their clientele regarding financial topics. This training will cover topics such as how to manage cash flow, dealing with debt, understanding credit reports and scores, as well as others. Cost: $30 per person.

Money Management Workshops and Web Resources – Reaching family members when and where they need it, we provide financial management educational programs on a variety of topics held during the evening or during the day at places of employment. Topics include budgeting, credit, saving and investing, communicating about money and helping families manage finances across the life cycle.

For more information on Financial Management programs contact Maria Pippidis