Nutrition Education Program Advisor Marla White, who serves Pulaski and Starke counties, faced a challenge every educator dreads: bored participants.
All of the women heard about her program through the Knox-based Bella Vita Pregnancy Center, which hosts her Eat Smart Move More nutrition education classes.
Shares Marla, “Our first two classes got off to a little bit of a shaky start, partially with me being new and partially just lack of connection with one another.”
Marla soon discovered another challenge: The new moms also needed ideas for quick, nutritious meals that fit their budgets. A solution was soon found by working with Bella Vita’s manager.
“The local foodbank is just across the road, and Bella Vita also has a pantry of donated food,” Marla shares. “We ‘shopped’ what we had and found a recipe for chicken veggie soup on MyPlate that we used!
“The women showed up, we did our lesson, I did the food demo. Then they got to make their own meal and prep it to take home and cook! It was so fun and everyone seemed so happy and carefree. They loved it so much and asked what we were making next week. I told them ‘something with cream of mushroom soup because we have SO MUCH!’
“They instantly started scouring MyPlate.gov and EatGatherGo.org to find a recipe they could use! One of them was so sweet and offered to take another younger mom in the group with her shopping for the chicken because she had food dollars to spare.”
The program inspired a “can-do” attitude among Marla’s participants. Her students developed a close-knit relationship. Most of all, the discovered how to locate and access resources in their community.
“I loved seeing them get invested and learning they can “shop” the pantry and easily put together a meal!”