Lapeer County keeping people healthy 2018

MSU Extension improves nutrition for Lapeer County residents.

Improving nutrition for Michigan seniors

Senior Market FRESH: Senior Market FRESH/Project FRESH in Michigan provides seniors who qualify with unprocessed, fresh Michigan-grown produce from registered Farmers Markets and roadside stands throughout Michigan. In Michigan, Senior Project FRESH is managed by the Office of Services to the Aging. MSU Extension provides nutrition classes and distributes coupons. To qualify, a senior must be 60-years of age or older, have total household income of 185 percent of poverty or less, and live in the county where the coupons are issued.

Vegetables and fruits offer important vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy. Most of these foods have little fat and no cholesterol, and are a good source of fiber. Eating more fiber may help with digestion and constipation, and help to lower cholesterol and blood sugar.

Senior Market FRESH is free for seniors and for participating farm markets. It allows seniors to benefit from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables during the summer and helps boost Michigan’s local economy. The coupons can only be used at Farm markets and not at grocery stores or supermarkets. Eligible items that can be purchased include any Michigan-grown fruit or vegetables such as strawberries, lettuce, cabbage, blueberries, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, squash, tomatoes, watermelon, apples, potatoes, onions, beans, etc., as well as honey and some herbs.

Thanks to the Lapeer County Board of Commissioners, additional funds were provided for the Market FRESH program for Lapeer County senior citizens. The funds were used to purchase additional coupon books, distributed to seniors in Lapeer County during July 2017. In total, 536 coupon books each worth $20 were distributed to provide free, fresh fruits and vegetables for local seniors. These coupons provided $10,720 in additional income for our local Farmers Markets and growers. Redemption rate for coupons for 2016 was over 91%.

A follow-up survey was sent to 270 seniors. 182 seniors responded. 92% of the Senior Project FRESH coupons were redeemed at the Lapeer County farm markets. As a result of receiving Senior Project FRESH coupons 99% were able to increase their average daily eating of fruits & vegetables by at least 1/2 cup serving.

Teaching youth about choosing healthy foods through hands-on education

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension partners with Michigan Department of Human Services (MDHS) to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), a free nutrition education program to reduce hunger and food insecurity and promote healthy eating habits. MSU Extension SNAP-Ed nutrition instructors teach youth, teens, adults and seniors how to make health a priority through an instructional series. The goal of the SNAP-Ed program is to increase the likelihood that those eligible for SNAP benefits will establish healthy eating habits and increase their time spent involved in physical activity, while staying within their limited food budget.

SNAP-Ed In Lapeer County has partnered with the Lapeer County Community Collaborative on the Healthy Living Lapeer initiative. We offer a monthly class targeted to low-income parents with young children in which we discuss various health and nutrition topics and a cooking demonstration. Participants also receive the groceries from the recipe of the month to take home, as well as other reinforcement items. This year a total of 47 participants were enrolled in the class. This initiative is funded by a grant from the Lapeer County Community Foundation, and includes collaboration between MSUE, McLaren Lapeer Region, Early Head Start, NEMCSA Head Start, Great Start Readiness Program, Stone Soup Food Bank, Historic Farmer’s Market of Downtown Lapeer, and WIC, among others.

“My doctor was really pleased with my A1C number and I was able to decrease some of his diabetic meds because of what he had learned in class,” one participant reported.

Lapeer County WIC and Project Fresh

Jennifer McNamara and Karly Creguer worked with Lapeer County WIC this summer to distribute 200 Project FRESH coupon booklets, valued at a total of $5,000. MSUE facilitated the nutrition education portion of the distribution, which occurred at the Historic Farmer’s Market of Downtown Lapeer. WIC recipients can use these coupons to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and roadside stands.

Extension Nutrition Program Instructor, Karly Creguer, applied for and received a $2,000 grant through the Lapeer County Community Foundation to offer two Today’s Mom series, nutrition education for pregnant mothers. This is a collaboration between WIC and Early Head Start. It will include education from a Certified Childbirth Educator and a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, as well as a healthy cooking demonstration. All participants will also receive the groceries from the recipe to take home as well as other reinforcement items.

Stress Less with Mindfulness

Kris Swartzendruber, Extension Educator for Social Emotional Health in District #10 conducted a Stress Less with Mindfulness series at Hunter’s Creek Conference Center, in Lapeer, on March 13 – April 24, 2018 for 31 adult participants.

Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment without judgement. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness is effective in reducing stressrelated symptoms such as worry, depression and physical tension, and may be helpful in managing chronic conditions such as cardiac disease and diabetes.

By offering adults alternative ways of relating to everyday life experiences, including thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and events, Stress Less with Mindfulness teaches and encourages the use of mindfulness self-care skills to help one feel better and enjoy life more.

The following are testimonials and comments from the participants that took this series:

  • "This class was helpful in getting me to live in the present."
  • "I would recommend this class because it can positively change things in you and how you react.”
  • "This class was enlightening!"
  • A participant shared that she lost 3 pounds in just one week by practicing the mindful eating techniques covered during this series.

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