SNAP into nutrition

Deetra Cunningham

(Posted March 3, 2017)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Madison County has a new full-time SNAP-Ed pro-gram assistant, ready to teach children and adults about good nutrition.

Deetra Huntington started the job on Feb. 20. She works from Madison County’s Ohio State University Extension office in London.

The goal of SNAP-Ed is to improve the likelihood that families and individuals who receive federal food assistance benefits will make healthy food choices and choose active lifestyles. It is a component of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Funding comes from the United States Department of Agriculture.

For the past year, Madison and Pickaway counties have shared a SNAP-Ed program assistant. Jessica Lowe spends Mondays in Madison County, teaching classes through Head Start and London ABLE. In fiscal year 2016, she reached 816 individuals in Madison County through direct nutrition education programs.

Based on these numbers, coordinators determined that interest in the programs and the county’s size warranted the addition of a full-time program assistant.

“I look for someone who is good with people and can teach. Deetra was exactly what we were looking for to make the connections in Madison County,” said Liz Smith, SNAP-Ed regional specialist.

Huntington holds a communications degree from The Ohio State University and has served as a substitute teacher and kindergarten aide at Monroe Elementary in the Jonathan Alder School District. A 16-year resident of the county, she also is a 4-H advisor and key leader.

Huntington is looking at ways to introduce school children to new fruits and vegetables, help low-income families stretch tight budgets and buy and prepare healthy food, and encourage more physical activity.

SNAP-Ed classes teach individuals how to read food labels, shop the perimeter of the grocery store where the more healthful food options are, and cook at home.

“We’re hoping that small changes over a period of time will lead to healthier habits,” Huntington said.

The aim is to change obesity statistics in Ohio, where 31 percent of children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese, 65 percent of adults are overweight or obese, and 75 percent of adults and youths do not eat fruits and vegetables at least one time daily.

All SNAP-Ed programs are free. For more information, call the Madison County Ohio State University Extension office at (740) 852-0975.

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