In March, 2010, the Pondera Extension expanded its services through the addition of nutrition educator, Jackie Berg.
The education position is funded through a federal grant which is administered by MSU Extension in Bozeman.
The Nutrition Education Program (NEP) Buy. Eat. Live. Better is based on healthy behavior changes for individuals with limited resources. The goal of the program is to have individuals choose healthy foods within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA Food Guidance System.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-ED) is an extension of the NEP program. SNAP-ED offers nutrition education classes provided by the local SNAP Educator.
The SNAP-Educator works with Montana families, children, youth, seniors, singles and individuals with developmental disabilities. Lessons and demonstrations are presented with information for choosing healthier foods, preparing meals, food safety practices and incorporating ways to be more physically active.
Each class has a hands-on component, and participants always get to sample some type of healthy, inexpensive food.
Berg serves youth and adults in Pondera County and the Blackfeet Reservation. Although the program is fairly new, data collected from questionnaires and surveys after lessons were taught in schools and to individuals has already shown a noticeable impact.
Some of the input from teachers is that they felt the curriculum was appropriate for the grade level to which it was being taught. Other input was that the lessons covered all learning styles and were very effective.
Students remembered a lesson taught about sugary drinks, and when they were at a track meet, they chose the healthier drinks. Other noticeable changes were that the students were willing to try new foods.
Some of the adult input was that after the adult lessons they planned meals ahead of time to save money.
They tried healthy recipes that were given to them. The adults have also used this program to address questions they may have about their health.
The program provides many resources that are available to answer questions.
The Nutrition Education Program is an excellent outreach program that is available for individuals to learn how to make better food choices with limited income, and to incorporate more physical activity into each day.
For more information, contact the County Extension office at 271-4054.