community nutrition

Eli Moskowitz – Summer Intern Spotlight

My name is Eli Moskowitz, and I am from Cheshire, Connecticut. I am a rising junior at UConn as a Nutritional Sciences major with a sports nutrition minor. I am currently in the Didactic Program in Dietetics. My goal after graduation is to be a Registered Dietitian and to help the public and address their nutritional needs.

Going into this internship I did not have much experience in the field of nutrition. Luckily, I have an exceptional supervisor who has set a great example and guided me through this internship. In the UConn Extension building, there are several other educators and staff who all do completely different tasks as part of the Extension team . Through these individuals, I have a completely new perspective on nutrition. I never realized how the gardening industry has such a tremendous impact on people’s health. Growing and cooking your own food is one of the healthiest ways to consume your meals. I have been able to apply what I have learned about gardening and garden maintenance from the Master Gardeners in order to help others.

One of my favorite programs through this internship was when I helped teach and prepare lessons with the Norwalk Health Department at the Growing Gardens, Growing Health which is at Fodor Farm in Norwalk. We provide eight different classes during this program. I led a youth group and taught them about the negative effects of sugary drinks and better alternatives for healthy beverages. I presented physical demonstrations of how much sugar is in some sodas and the participants were shocked. I also showed them how to read serving sizes as well as sugar in grams. In fact, yesterday when I was teaching one of these programs, a young child told me how much sugar was in her drink and she told me whether it was healthy or not. This gave me a sense of pride and happiness in both my students and in myself. I was glad to see that they were taking my lessons and applying them to their lives!

During the second half of this program, we go down to the community garden and help families maintain and cultivate into their garden. Every family has their own raised garden to plant what they like. Norwalk Health Department provides all types of seeds and plants, and my role is to assist in the production and growth of their gardens. The kids have so much fun planting fruits and vegetables, and the parents are very happy to see their kids infatuated with nutrition.

At the Norwalk Growing Gardens, Growing Health Program I have worked with amazing women who are part of the Norwalk Health Department and work closely with the UConn Extension. I learned what they do for their communities. Before I did not know anything about these jobs, and now I feel well informed about what they do and how they collaborate with dietitians. It has made me feel more secure and optimistic about my future in this field.

Another fun program I assisted in was the Danbury Farmers Market. I woke up in the morning of the market, worrying about the rainy forecast. The organizers had a great idea to move it to the parking garage. I have never been to a farmers market in a parking garage, but it worked perfectly. All the vendors had enough space and there was a great turnout. We, as UConn Extension, provided two nutrition lessons with cooking demonstrations. My supervisor, coworker and I led the cooking demonstrations with approximately 30 people in each group. We made a delicious simple green salad and gave each participant a copy of the recipe.

These are just two of the several programs I will help lead throughout this internship. I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge and experience, and my confidence in public speaking has increased. I never led a discussion for such a large group of people prior to this internship. I learned that one of the best parts of this experience is the rewarding feeling you get from knowing your audience is going to benefit from your teaching efforts. I have met many people with diverse jobs that have taught me how their organizations work. I have obtained advice from them that I will take all throughout my career. With the knowledge I have received from my coworkers, and the experience I have gained from my programs, I feel I have taken a big leap into the world of nutrition.

Community Nutrition Outreach with Kate O’Brien

Kate O'BrienHi! My name is Kate O’Brien, and I’m one of the summer interns with UConn CAHNR Extension. I’m currently working in clinical and community nutrition with organizations such as Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), and Auerfarm under Sherry Gray. At UConn, I am a rising senior majoring in Nutritional Sciences, with a concentration in the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). On campus, I have been involved with Husky Programs and Husky Reads where I taught nutrition education to preschoolers and developed my love of working with kids and nutrition. I am also involved with Nutrition Club and Habitat for Humanity. 

This internship has given me a variety of experiences. At Connecticut Children’s Genetics Clinic, I have been able sit-in on patient appointments and learn about metabolic disorders and their dietary treatment. It has been so interesting learning about how to approach such specific conditions with unique dietary needs while trying to allow the child to live a normal daily life. I am also working with the education specialists for Hartford County EFNEP to co-create and teach a summer nutrition education course. I have been building coursework that focuses on fitness, nutrition, and social media. Soon I will begin working at Auerfarm’s summer camp where I will teach high school transition students with disabilities about nutrition, food safety, and food preparation. It has been such a great experience being a part of the Hartford County Extension office, meeting the other people who work for UConn Extension, and learning about the different programs they are a part of such as Master Gardeners and the PATHS trails programs. I have learned so much already and I can’t wait for the rest of the summer!

Improving Health and Nutrition in Hartford

girl sitting in grass drinking orange juice out of straw with basket of fruits and vegetables next to herParticipants at the Village Family Resource Center at Burns Latino Studies Academy in Hartford wanted more information on health and nutrition. Our Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program (EFNEP) partnered with the Family Resource Center to provide five educational outreach sessions in 2019. Community members wanted to learn about food security, healthy choices, feeding children, quick and easy healthy recipes, how to include more fruits and vegetables, and how to save time and money. Parents shared with our team that they struggle with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health issues.

The workshop series covered food safety, reading and understanding food facts, meal planning, MyPlate, and portion control. We made our own spices to substitute Adobo, Sazón, and a mix of herbs and spices for soups to control sodium intake. In another workshop we made a quick and easy lasagna using spinach and zucchini.

Participants learned measuring skills, and how to use new kitchen tools to make prep time fast and easy. We also helped them develop meal planning strategies with ingredients they have at home. We encouraged them to track their spending, and have their children help with the math for extra practice.

One parent shared with us, “I am a diabetic and have been trying to start eating healthy. It has been so hard because I didn’t know what foods and how much I could eat. Now I am making changes, measuring, and using an app to keep track.” After a few diet analyses she was making positive changes that she also shared with her dietician.

We are continuing to serve community members in Hartford, and provide educational outreach programs that help improve nutrition and health outcomes. Our EFNEP program also works with other communities statewide to help our residents.

Article by Angela Caldera

Partner Testimonials

boy eating from a bowl outside with another little boy behind himPartnerships are at the foundation of Extension’s work statewide in all 169 towns and cities of Connecticut. We integrate with agencies and non-profits in communities in a variety of ways.

“Our partnerships strengthen Extension, and in turn increase our statewide impact. Our innovative collaborations allow Extension and our partners to reach respective goals together.” ~ Mike O’Neill, Associate Dean and Associate Director, UConn Extension

“For the benefit of Connecticut farmers, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture collaborates with UConn Extension across many disciplines. From FSMA Produce Safety Rule education and outreach that expand market opportunities to Viability Grant funding of crucial research done by Extension educations, our strong partnership will help to sustain and foster innovation for agriculture in our state.” ~ Bryan Hurlburt, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture

“The Master Gardener Program has provided significant value to the Bartlett Arboretum for many years. We rely on Master Gardeners to support our community outreach in so many different ways. Examples of their contribution include Master Gardener availability in Plant Clinic from May through September of each year to address homeowner plant problems and issues. Master Gardeners conduct visitor tours of our gardens and our champion and notable trees. They provide Arboretum management with ideas for plants in our gardens. All of these activities enhance the visitor experience at the Bartlett Arboretum and further its mission.” ~ S. Jane von Trapp, CEO, Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens in Stamford

“The information and assistance provided by CLEAR has enabled our town to save resources while complying with the requirements of the MS4 Permit. The template for the stormwater management plan alone saved us a significant amount of money by allowing staff to complete an acceptable plan in a minimal amount of time.” ~Warren Disbrow, Assistant Town Engineer, East Hartford

“We are grateful to partner with SNAP-ED and EFNEP to ensure the people we serve not only have access to nutritious food but also have opportunities to participate in evidence-based nutrition education. In food insecurity programs we can bring healthy food, and a pantry shopping experience directly to schools, senior centers and other community-based organizations. Through partnerships with SNAP-ED and EFNEP clients can learn, sample healthy recipes and then apply new skills to shopping.” ~ Jaime S. Foster, PhD, RD

“The Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) found a great partner in UConn Extension as we rolled out the Best Practices in Economic Development and Land Use Program that really asks, ‘How do we do our jobs better?’ In economic development in Connecticut we face a fiercely competitive landscape for jobs and investment. How we compete as a state matters, but at the end of the day, a company locates in a community. We want our communities to be as well-prepared as possible, and that’s something that UConn Extension’s programs in Community & Economic Development is doing every day. CEDAS offered the3platform to create a set of standards and the UConn team helped add the details. More importantly, they were the support to our communities that wanted to get better. We can all want to do a better job at local economic development, but if3there’s not someone there coaching and mentoring us along we’re not going to get there. UConn Extension was the helping hand that truly pulled our communities through the process and in the end, raised our standards for economic development in Connecticut.” ~ Garret Sheehan, CEcD, President Connecticut Economic Development Association, President and CEO Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce

SNAP-Ed Programming in Fairfield County

By Rachel Hathaway (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Rachel Hathaway (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Nutrition outreach in January at the Danbury New Hope Church mobile food pantry included an on-site food demonstration with Banana Oatmeal, recipes and information were also distributed to 235 participants while waiting for their number to be called. Nutrition outreach at the Walnut Hill Church mobile food pantry in Bethel was on January 24th and reached 140 families.

Extension educator Heather Peracchio and intern Marianna Orrico, a Health Promotion and Exercise Science student from Western Connecticut State University, attended this month’s Danbury Food Collaborative meeting hosted at United Way on January 17th. Food pantries in attendance were given 200 copies of seasonally appropriate recipes to distribute to clients this month.

Heather also attended the Danbury Coalition for Healthy Kids meeting on January 24th. Danbury area agencies met to plan out a strategy for reducing childhood obesity in the greater Danbury area. Heather shared EFNEP and SNAP-Ed resources with community partners in attendance.