ISU Extension program offers healthy food advice for Floyd County residents
By Kelly Terpstra, firstname.lastname@example.org
Maximizing your food dollar can be a challenge when a budget is tight.
Making sure those dining options are healthy and nutritious can create even more headaches for families or individuals who struggle to make ends meet when funds are low.
That’s why Anne Litterer is here to help.
Litterer was recently hired by the Floyd County Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Office as a program assistant for the Buy, Eat, Live Healthy curriculum that the staff offers.
That means Litterer, a 2002 RRMR High School graduate, will be out and about talking to individuals in Floyd County who might be interested in attending a four-lesson class that she plans on teaching in the coming months.
“I like nutrition and I like to cook and I like to teach, so it actually kind of all threw everything together,” said Litterer. “I’m looking forward to working with the local communities.”
The classes will focus on a series titled Plan, Shop, Save and Cook. The education teaches how to make good choices when shopping for food and saving money at the grocery store. People who take the classes will also be better equipped to plan and prepare meals.
The program is a partnership with ISU and SNAP-Ed – a federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is the federal aid program administered by the USDA. The funds flow through the Iowa Department of Human Services, which determines who is eligible for food assistance.
“The nationwide goals are that they want us to help make better choices with their nutrition and their physical activity,” said Justine Hoover, an extension program specialist in Floyd County. “The ultimate goal of that is to help them avoid chronic diseases and help them miss less days of work and school so they lead more productive lives.”
The Buy, Eat, Live Healthy program has been in existence since 2012 in Floyd County. Litterer said pregnant women who utilize WIC (Women, Infants and Children) or elderly residents of the county who use food assistance are welcome to take part in the classes.
That doesn’t mean receiving food assistance is a prerequisite in attending the classes.
“Not all people have to qualify for the income guidelines. In order to host a class, I have to have at least half of them meet the income guidelines,” said Litterer.
Litterer said she went to school for nursing and had worked in that field since 2004, prior to taking the position at the Extension Office.
She said she understands the struggles that some families may go through, because she has encountered some of them herself.
“When my kids were little we hit that point where we barely made enough, but we made too much to get the assistance,” said Litterer. “I’ve been there where we were really tight for money and I worked two full-time jobs.”
That’s one of the reasons Litterer will be out recruiting those who live in Floyd County to become involved in the informational and productive learning sessions.
“We place high value on employees who have empathy and can identify with the people that they’re going to work with and the people that they serve,” said Hoover.
Litterer also said there is an eight-part class series that she will lead at some point as well. She said the classes primarily will be held at the ISU Extension Office in Charles City. She said the four-class sessions will be scheduled on a demand basis and each one will last about 1½ hours.
“The main thing is knowing that it’s local and that this is for all of Floyd County. It’s just not Charles City,” said Litterer.
Hoover said there is a website – spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu – that shows various ways families or individuals can make living healthy exciting and fun.
“It’s for anybody. Anybody that wants recipes that are low cost, easy to prepare. We have short, quick videos that teach people some basic kitchen skills,” said Hoover.
According to data released by the USDA, during 2019, 1,000 adults in Iowa participated in nutrition education programs. Ninety-one percent of participants identified as female and 47% self-identified as part of an underserved racial or ethnic group. More than 75% of participants received public assistance.
The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Office is located at 112 North Main in Charles City. The office can be reached at 641-228-1453.