Keeping people healthy

MSU Extension teaches valuable healthy-eating skills and improves nutrition for community seniors.

Teaching valuable healthy-eating skills

More than 1.3 million Michigan residents receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. MSU Extension’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) programs including Cooking Matters, Project Fresh, Healthy Harvest and Show Me Nutrition teach adults how to make the most of their food dollars, by developing skills such as menu planning, understanding recipes and keeping food safe. Participants learned about the nutrition and health benefits of foods to feed their families in healthy ways. In 2017 Montcalm MSU Extension nutrition programs was able to:

  • Graduate 87 Montcalm County adults and 490 youth from a six week evidence based class on eating healthy and increasing physical activity.
  • Provide one time nutrition and physical activity sessions and workshop presentations to 238 Montcalm County adults and 165 youth.
  • Secure grant funding for Central Montcalm Upper Elementary School, Central Montcalm Middle School, Carson City Elementary and Carson City Middle/High School to implement changes to promote healthy eating.
  • Provide information and referral processes for evidence based nutrition programs to over 50 partner agency contacts.

Improving nutrition for Michigan seniors

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.

Through the partnership with the Montcalm County Commission on Aging and Michigan State University Extension, Montcalm County seniors were provided with the $20 coupon books. These coupons provided extra dollars to local seniors for fresh fruits and vegetables, and meant additional income for our local Farmers Markets and growers. Bonnie Havlicek, SNAP-Ed Program Instructor with MSU Extension was in charge of providing the educational component and coupon distribution at senior centers throughout the county. The eligible seniors were very happy and grateful to receive the coupons.

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