nutrition

Danbury Head Start and EFNEP Zoom Graduation

“Me encanto aprendí mucho.”

Fue de mucha ayuda y ahora lo pongo en práctica. Me ayudo mucho a comer más saludable y a gastar menos dinero comprando comida en ofertas.”

“Tratare de integrar a mis comidas todos los consejos que aprendi en esta clase ya que son muy productivos. Gracias por compartir con nosotras todos sus conocimentos de cocina.” 

“Me fijaré más en la lista de nutrición de los productos, para controlar en no exceder en los valores diarios, tratar de poner en práctica las recomendaciones de relajación para cuando tenga mucha presión en mis tareas diarias, consumir comida más sana de manera divertida para mis niños.”

Some words shared by Danbury Head Start parents after completing their EFNEP course. 

Learn more about our UConn EFNEP program at https://efnep.uconn.edu/.

people in a zoom meeting

UConn EFNEP Celebrates National Nutrition Month

vegetables on a white dinner plateMarch is National Nutrition Month! This past year has proven that nutrition and health are more important to all of us than ever. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is UConn Extension’s outreach nutrition program in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR). Since EFNEP’s inception as a USDA demonstration program in 1968, community educators work with low-income, limited resource families with children to learn how to food shop, prepare and eat more healthily as well as increase physical activity.

National Nutrition Month is a natural connection for EFNEP’s year round healthy lifestyle education. Designated in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this promotion began as a weeklong campaign to promote the profession as well as to communicate nutrition messages to the public. As a result of growing consumer interest, there was a transition to month long event in 1980. Each year a theme is chosen to embody health through nutrition and physical activity.

This year’s theme is Personalize Your Plate because everyone is unique in regard to body type, goals, cultural background, taste preferences and experiences. During this unprecedented past year, EFNEP has pivoted along with the rest of the world to social media for connection and engagement with friends, family and acquaintances. Through the EFNEP Facebook page and Extension Instagram and website, messages have included recipes, video short talks and cooking demonstrations to highlight how to Personalize Your Plate. Join us on social media and our websites to learn more about nutrition and healthy lifestyle education.

National Nutrition Month Video Topics:

March is National Nutrition Month: English https://youtu.be/b-nDAgkU9ks
                                                        Spanish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GpfOweLl-s
What is EFNEP: English https://youtu.be/9NeSq0Tk2es
                           Spanish https://youtu.be/fRh7QoiyX3Q
                           Spanish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGE3HrSJ30Y&feature=youtu.be

Article by Umekia R. Taylor, MS, RDN, CDN; UConn Educator/EFNEP Supervisor

Reference

Denny S. National nutrition month: a brief history. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106 (3):365-366.

CT Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Member Spotlight: Heather Peracchio MS, RDN, CD-N

Heather Peracchio MS, RDN, CD-N

Heather at Daily Bread

Do you have a current/past  position with the CT AND Board?

I have been many positions on the CT AND board but currently I am the Food Security and Sustainability Co-Chair.

 

What inspired you to become a RDN?

My first year at UConn I found the course ‘The Science of Food’ fascinating and was inspired to take more classes in Nutritional Sciences. I have had an interest in food and cooking from a young age. In fact, my mom taught after school cooking programs for elementary age students and I was her assistant. 

 

Where do you work now and where have you worked in the past? 

I currently work as an Assistant Extension Educator at the University of Connecticut based out of the Fairfield County Extension office.  I have been faculty at UConn since 2008, first working in the Department of Allied Health Sciences as a community nutrition preceptor (2008-2012) and then transferred to my current role and office in Bethel, CT (2012-current) as my husband and I settled in nearby Brookfield and started our family.  I also worked part-time as an outpatient dietitian at Community Health Center, Inc. covering Danbury, Norwalk and Stamford locations 2012-2018. 

 

What is your favorite recipe/food?

I could never pick just one! I love cooking and have many favorites. I especially enjoy sharing recipes with friends and clients that are delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare.

 

How is food related to your culture?

My parents and grandparents valued food and its origin.  My grandparents on my fathers side were farmers and very much connected to the land. My grandfather grew up on a dairy farm, Quinnequack Farm in Northeast Connecticut and my grandmother as the daughter of a dairy owner, Arrow Lakes Dairy in Cranston, RI. My grandparents on my mothers side were avid gardeners and wonderful cooks. Growing up my parents and grandparents shared many stories and recipes that had been passed down to them.

 

General tip for improving diet?

Make half your plate fruits and veggies! I am always sure to share this simple tip in presentations as it can easily shift one’s diet in a more healthful direction. 

 

If stranded on island-what one food or beverage you would want an unlimited supply of?

Coffee

 

What is the best part of your job?

I love my job because each day is different. At times I am working on research projects or writing grants, other times I am connecting with community partners such as emergency food sites or I might be in the field giving presentations or attending health fairs. No two days look alike.

 

How has Covid-19 changed the way that you do your job?

The majority of my work has shifted to telecommuting, spending much of my day in virtual meetings or chatting with colleagues on Microsoft teams. My nutrition presentations and class series have transitioned to a virtual format. Also all data collection tools that were traditionally pen and paper have been transitioned to online survey formats.  It is certainly different but I am still doing what I love.

Where do you want to see the RDN/NDTR profession in 10 years?

I would love to see RDNs working more in primary care.  In my role at CHC I saw the value and appreciation for RDNs in primary care and enjoyed working as part of an interdisciplinary team.  I hope that model of care expands and RDNs work more in primary care clinics as well as alongside pharmacists in community pharmacies.  Pharmacies are quickly becoming the go-to resource for primary care and will become more important as vaccination efforts increase. I feel this could be a great place for multidisciplinary work and a great way for RDNs to connect with patients. 

Original Post

Eat SMART in the New Year!

Written by UConn registered dietitian-nutritionist Donna Zigmont, RDN, CD-N

 

Goal Setting graphic
Source: Free goal setting clip art

Every January, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions to make positive changes in their lives. After a very difficult 2020 due to COVID-19, we are hopeful that 2021 will be more promising for all of us. Many of us have had to put our own health and well-being on pause during the pandemic due to emotional and financial stress, changes in our routine, loneliness, caring for loved ones, or homeschooling our children.

With the start of a new year, it’s a good time to think about making positive changes to improve our nutritional health.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Don’t try to tackle everything at once. Focus on making small, doable changes in your habits that you can do over time. This is the best way to change behaviors for the long-term.
  • Write your goals down on a piece of paper (or enter them on your computer, tablet, or Smart phone!). This can improve your chances of reaching your goals. It’s like making a personal contract with yourself!
  • bullseye target and goalsEnlist the support of family and friends. Sharing your goals with others makes your goals more concrete or real. Plus, family and friends can provide you with encouragement and help motivate you to reach your goals.
  • Use SMART goals to maximize your success.

What is a SMART goal? SMART goals are much more than simply stating something you want to accomplish. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time based.

  • fruitsSpecific – Make sure your goals are very specific, rather than general, in terms of what you want to accomplish. Instead of saying “I will eat healthier,” be more specific as to how you will eat healthier, such as “I will eat more fruits and veggies.”
  • Measurable  Have a way to track and measure your success to know if you’ve met your goals. Include numbers whenever possible! Are you working on trying to eat more whole grains? Set a measurable goal such as “I will eat at least one serving of whole grains daily.”
  • Achievable – Set goals that are realistic – goals you can achieve without setting the bar too high. If you typically eat donuts every day of the week, are you realistically going to be able to give them up altogether? Nor should you. Make a starting goal to cut back on eating donuts to 3 days a week, eventually eating donuts only as a special treat
  • calendarRelevant  Make sure you are working on a goal that makes sense to you and fits in with your other goals. If you’re not motivated to work on including more low-fat dairy foods in your diet, select a different goal to work on.
  • Time-Bound  Set a target date to achieve your goal. Again, use numbers here! Such as, “I will eat seafood at least once a week this month.”

Here are more examples of SMART goals:

“I will eat a piece of fruit for a snack 4 days out of the week for the next 2 weeks.”

“I will try a new recipe with beans this week.”

“I will fill half my plate with veggies at dinner 4 nights this week.”

“I will drink 8 ounces of water with each meal this week.”

“I will try 2 new whole grains this week, like barley and quinoa.”

Now you try it! Record one SMART goal you want to focus on. Check to see that it is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time sensitive. Ask yourself: What specific part of my diet will I work on first? How will I track and measure my success? Can I realistically achieve this goal? Is it relevant to me and am I motivated to make this change? What is the short-term time frame I will work on this goal? This week, the next 2 weeks, this month?

Once you reach your goal, set another SMART goal to work on. Before you know it, your small changes will add up to HUGE results!

Make it a goal to try a plant-based, meatless meal this week!

Veggie Pizza Pita Pockets – Makes 1 Serving

Ingredients
Veggie Pizza Pita Pockets1 pita, whole wheat (or use whole wheat English muffin)
4 Tbs. tomato sauce, unsalted
4 Tbs. shredded mozzarella cheese, part-skim
2 of the following vegetables: (or use more to increase your veggies!) green & red peppers, sliced mushrooms, chopped broccoli, chopped red onion, chopped spinach

Instructions

  1. Spread tomato sauce on pita.
  2. Sprinkle various chopped vegetable over sauce.
  3. Sprinkle cheese on top of vegetables.
  4. Microwave 35-45 seconds or broil in oven until cheese melts. Slice in half, let cool, and enjoy!​

One Skillet Meal – Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients

One Skillet Meal1 package broccoli (10 ounces, frozen, can also use mustard greens, collard greens or spinach)

2 cans stewed tomatoes, low sodium (about 30 ounces)

1 cup brown rice, cooked

1 can white beans (15 ounces, rinsed and drained)

Pepper, oregano, basil, or hot pepper (other spices to taste)

Directions

  1. Steam greens in the stewed tomatoes using a small pan, pot, or electric skillet on medium-high heat.
  2. Cook greens 10 to 20 minutes, until they are as soft as you like them. Stir gently.
  3. Add the rice, canned beans, and seasonings; cook until heated through.

For more tasty, low-cost recipes visit Healthy Family CT Recipes:  https://communitynutrition.cahnr.uconn.edu/recipes/

UConn SNAP-Ed logoThis material was funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
This institution is an equal opportunity employer.

 

UConn 4-H in 40: Surviving the Holidays

UConn 4-H presents

4-H in 40

A Series of Virtual Workshops for Adults the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00pm. 

These workshops are open to any interested adults- volunteers, 4-H leaders, parents, and community members. The opportunity to register will continue through the year. Each presentation is 20-30 minutes long, followed by 10-20 minutes discussion time (so the workshop is done in 40 minutes!).

Click here to register. The Zoom login will be emailed to you, along with any handouts that accompany workshops.

Alli is a social worker, nutrition and health coach, and personal trainer with an extensive back ground in mental health. She works with adults to find their bio-individual balance and achieve goals with nutrition, health, wellness, and lifestyle.

Register Here

words, basket with vegetables, christmas wreath

Pumpkin’s a Good Pick for Your Health!

Written by UConn Dietetics Student Alexa Horkachuck

Autumn is finally here, which means that pumpkin flavored products are flooding into your local grocery store. If you’re a fan, you will find everything from pumpkin cream cheese and pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin pastas and soups. There is bound to be a recipe that you would enjoy making and eating!

carved pumpkin on a tablePumpkin is a tasty vegetable that is packed with healthful benefits for you and your family to enjoy. It is low in calories, sodium, and fat, while high in fiber to help keep you full throughout the day. It is also a great source of beta-carotene which your body converts to vitamin A – a powerful antioxidant which helps improve your skin and eye health. Pumpkin also has vitamin C to keep your immune system strong through the upcoming winter. It also is packed with potassium, and low in sodium which can help prevent high blood pressure!

When cooking with fresh pumpkin, it is important to pay attention to what type of pumpkin you are using and how much of the pumpkin you need to use! For cooking at home, purchase fresh sugar-pumpkins (also called pie or sweet pumpkins), which are small and round. Field types of pumpkins are larger, have watery, stringy flesh, and are best used for decorating like Jack-O-Lanterns.

Check this out to learn about different types of pumpkins!

https://www.thekitchn.com/the-best-pumpkins-for-baking-ingredient-intelligence-211333

Fresh pumpkin is easy to prepare in an oven, check it out!

https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-roast-pumpkin-4115845

You can replace fresh, pureed pumpkin with equal amounts of canned pumpkin in your favorite recipes. For example, substitute 1 cup fresh, pureed pumpkin called for in a recipe with 1 cup canned pumpkin.

  • Canned pumpkin is certainly more convenient and relatively inexpensive, typically costing around $1-2 for a 15-oz can. Be sure to buy 100% pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin pie “mix” by accident! The “filling and mix styles” add unwanted sugars that you do not need in most recipes.
  • Once opened, canned pumpkin can be stored in your refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. You can also stir canned pumpkin into oatmeal, pancakes, smoothies, and vanilla yogurt for added flavor. Add it to soups and stews to thicken them.
  • Be sure to transfer any leftover canned pumpkin to an airtight container and store in the fridge.

Here are two delicious ways to use fresh or canned pumpkin.  For more tasty, healthy, and low-cost recipes, visit: https://communitynutrition.cahnr.uconn.edu/recipes/

Pumpkin Soup Makes ~6 cups bowl of pumpkin soup on a saucer

Ingredients:

1 tbsp butter

½ small onion, finely chopped

1 can (15 oz.) solid packed pumpkin

2 cups water

½ cup milk

1 tbsp. maple syrup

¼ tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onion and cook, stirring often until very soft, about 8 minutes. Do not burn.
  2. Add pumpkin, water, milk, syrup, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking often.
  4. Let cool and then cover and chill. Bring to a simmer before serving.

Pumpkin Apple Cake Serves: 24

Ingredients:

1 package white cake mix

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree

1 tsp. cinnamon

⅔ cup apple juice

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

Nonstick cooking spray and flour

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Combine cake mix, pumpkin, cinnamon, apple juice, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Beat at low speed for 30 seconds. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour into a 12 cup Bundt pan or a 9” x 13” cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and floured.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the cake center comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes. Then invert onto wire rack to cool completely

This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Fall is Here – Stay Hydrated

Written by UConn Dietetics Masters Student Shawn Lada

person drinking water backlit by sun
Drink water the day before and during physical activity or if heat is going to become a factor. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol, especially before strenuous exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

We may be having cooler days now, but it is always important to stay hydrated. Keeping your body hydrated helps your heart, brain, muscles, and joints to stay healthy, along with keeping you regular and preventing urinary tract infections! During hotter days and summer months your body needs more fluid because you lose fluid when you sweat. Guess what? Sweating also occurs if you are working out in a gym in the winter! Even if you are not working out, your body loses fluid every day and you may not be drinking as much fluid as you need to rehydrate1.

Bottom line: Be aware of your fluid intake each day and adjust as necessary.

Depending on your activity level, from low activity like washing the car and walking the dog, to high/athletic activity like running a number of miles or lifting weights–and even depending on your gender–you may need around 90 ounces to 180 ounces of water a day. (That is up to almost 1 ½ gallons or 23 eight-oz cups!) The good news is you get around 20% of your fluid intake from fruits and vegetables2.  Do you know how water packed they are? Think of sweet juicy watermelon and crunchy apples! That’s water making that ‘crunch’!

The other 80% of your daily fluids come from water, milk, coffee, tea, and other beverages3. Other sources of fluids include foods like plain yogurt, broth-based soups, and popsicles.

For the rest of your hydration needs–and to get into a healthy routine–keep a reusable water bottle nearby, or a glass of water if you are at home, sipping as you go through the day4.

Remember: if you’re feeling thirsty, listen to your body and drink up! By the time you are thirsty, you are probably already on your way to becoming dehydrated. A way of knowing if you are dehydrated is to look at the color of your urine. It should be clear or pale yellow5. If it’s not, it’s time to drink some refreshing water!

Struggling to take a liking to plain drinking water? Try adding sliced fruits, like lemons and limes, and vegetables like cucumber slices, or even some mint!

Visit this page for more inspiring ways to flavor your water! https://communitynutrition.cahnr.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/3067/2020/08/Drink-Up-English-Spanish.pdf

Citations:

  1. French, K. A., & James, L. (2020, September 16). Water, Water Everywhere. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://extension.psu.edu/water-water-everywhere
  2. Appel, L. J., M.D, Baker, D. H., Ph.D., Bar-Or, O., M.D, Minaker, K. L., M.D., Morris, C., Jr., M.D, Resnick, L. M., M.D, . . . Whelton, P. K., M.D., M.Sc. (2004, February 11). Report Sets Dietary Intake Levels for Water, Salt, and Potassium To Maintain Health and Reduce Chronic Disease Risk. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2004/02/report-sets-dietary-intake-levels-for-water-salt-and-potassium-to-maintain-health-and-reduce-chronic-disease-risk
  3. French, K. A., & James, L. (2020, September 16). Water, Water Everywhere. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://extension.psu.edu/water-water-everywhere
  4. Water & Nutrition. (2016, October 05). Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/index.html
  5. French, K. A., & James, L. (2020, September 16). Water, Water Everywhere. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://extension.psu.edu/water-water-everywhere

This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Cholesterol Education with the UConn Dietetics Program

Written by UConn Dietetics student Madeline Fulton

93 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL. Nearly 29 million adult Americans have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.1

Too much cholesterol circulating in your blood can put you at risk for developing heart disease and stroke. What is cholesterol? It’s a waxy, fat-like substance made by our livers. Cholesterol is needed for our bodies to produce hormones, digest fatty foods, and other important jobs. Our bodies produce the right amount of cholesterol needed. There are two types of cholesterol we care most about: “GOOD” (aka HDL) and “BAD” (aka LDL). We want more “GOOD” cholesterol in our bodies because it helps our bodies get rid of the “BAD” cholesterol. The “BAD”, or less healthy cholesterol, can build up over time and cause our arteries to become stiff and narrow. This reduces the blood flow which could result in blockage to the heart (a heart attack) or the brain (a stroke). Cholesterol in our blood is affected MOST by eating saturated fats (fatty meats, butter, baked goods) and trans fats (fried fast food, vegetable oil, microwave popcorn, some stick margarines).

The way you can help yourself and improve your cholesterol levels is to:

  1. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS. Don’t miss doctor’s appointments or lab work.

    chart with cholesterol guidelienes
    National Cholesterol Education Program Guidelines, 2018
  2. Learn and be aware of the foods that can help you control your good and bad cholesterol, as well as, the saturated and trans fats you eat:
    • “Good” cholesterol (aka HDL) is affected in a good way by foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, olive oil, canola oil, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), flax and chia seeds, avocado, high fiber fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
    • “Bad” cholesterol (aka LDL) is affected by foods like fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy products, deep-fried fast foods, processed foods (chips, cookies, other snack foods), and butter.
    • Review your diet. Only on occasion should you eat rich (highly marbled) meats, cream, butter, and fried foods.
  1. Participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Aerobic exercise (those that increase your heart rate) can help improve your GOOD cholesterol levels. Aerobic types of exercise include: walking, running, biking, or jumping rope.2
  2. Drink alcohol in moderation. The current recommendation for females is up to one drink per day; while the recommendation for males is up to two drinks per day. “One drink” is considered one glass (5 oz.) of wine, one beer (12 oz), or 1.5 oz of hard liquor.3
  3. If diet and exercise plans don’t seem to be lowering your cholesterol numbers into a healthy range, medication might be necessary. Make sure to speak with your doctor to see what plan will work best for you!

Tip: Small changes go a long way when it comes to managing your cholesterol! The small changes will add up, helping you to develop long-lasting lifestyle and nutrition changes.

Citations

  1. Virani SS, Alonso A, Benjamin EJ, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, Carson AP, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2020 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2020. Accessed September 21, 2020.
  2. S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008. Health (San Francisco) 2008 Physical Activity. Accessed September 21, 2020.
  3. Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of. 2015. “2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (8th edition). Accessed September 21, 2020.

This material is funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Tropical Smoothie – A Healthy Recipe with Dianisi Torres

Dianisi Torres of our UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) makes a healthy tropical smoothie with you using ingredients from the Dollar Store. The presentation is in English and Spanish.

Dianisi Torres, de nuestro programa Educación Alimentaria y Nutricional Expandida de la Extension de UConn, conocido como EFNEP, hace un licuado tropical saludable con usted usando ingredientes de la tienda de Dólar. La presentación es en Inglés y Español.

 

Velazquez Answers Nutrition Questions on Radio Amor in Bridgeport

Zoraida Velazquez talks about MyPlate on Radio Love in BridgeportThe global pandemic is challenging everyone. It’s made many of us more conscience of the threats surrounding us every day. Many people are more aware of the food they eat and health impacts of their nutritional choices. Extension educator Zoraida Velazquez is answering questions for Bridgeport and residents of surrounding communities each Friday morning on Radio Amor/Radio Love 690 AM. Her nutritional advice and guidance are helping the community improve their health and wellbeing.

Zoraida joined UConn Extension in 1978. She’s an educator in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (UConn EFNEP). EFNEP helps families learn about healthy eating, shopping on a budget, cooking and physical activity. She began her career in UConn Extension’s New London County office before moving back to the New Haven County office. Zoraida grew up in New Haven and is well-known among the community.

“I’m always involved in the community because I love working with people in need,” Zoraida says. Zoraida has served as a pastor for the last 43 years, in addition to her work with EFNEP. She and her husband are currently pastors in Wallingford.

Zoraida began working with Radio Amor in 2015. She had a weekly ten-minute spot called Salud y Nutrition where she answered listeners’ questions. The station manager initiated the program with the goal of bringing services to the community.

Keyla Negron was a nutritional science in the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. She heard the program in 2016 and called our Extension office to learn more. Keyla went down to the New Haven County office during her summer break and helped Zoraida with the radio show as a volunteer. They prepared answers for each week’s questions and resources to share with listeners.

The program remained popular with listeners. Then, there were administrative changes at the station in 2017. The station discontinued Zoraida’s program, along with many others.

In January of 2020, Javier Cabrera, the new manager of Radio Amor, reached out to Zoraida. “He remembered hearing the program and told me that it was very informative to the Spanish community, and he wanted to bring back this and other programs for the listeners to benefit from,” she says. “Radio Amor is a Christian radio station, but it’s open to the community with no discrimination to color or race.”

The show quickly resumed with the first episode airing on March 6, 2020. COVID halted it for a second time. It took a couple of months, but in mid-May, Radio Amor had adjusted to the challenges created by the pandemic. Zoraida is back on the air for twenty minutes a week, answering nutrition-related questions for listeners.

“I started in March with MyPlate,” Zoraida says. “I wanted to go back to the basics with the listeners. Then we progressed into the importance of families eating together at the table, I encouraged moms to take advantage of helping their children with healthy eating.”

Other popular topics include stretching the food budget and learning what to make from products that are on hand. Zoraida recalls one person calling in to say that they used to make arroz con leche when things were tough, and white rice with just eggs because there was not enough money for other food products.

“Zoraida Velazquez has been such a blessing to Radio Amor for many years,” says Javier Cabrera, the Operations Manager at Radio Amor. “Pastor Velazquez shares very helpful and important information with our audience, educating them on how to stay healthy. Radio Amor is honored to have Pastor Velazquez as one of our educators empowering our community with the necessary resources to help them stay healthy.”

Zoraida’s 20-minute radio show is rarely long enough to answer all the questions. It regularly becomes a 45-minute segment. Zoraida stays on the air until she’s answered all of the questions.

“When I came back on air in May after the break because of coronavirus, food safety was understandably a hot topic,” Zoraida explains. “We started talking about foodborne illness. Questions I received included whether or not it was okay to leave food out, understanding what to do if there is food recall because of E. coli or salmonella. Other people wanted to know where they could go for food assistance, or how they could participate in EFNEP. Parents want to know how to get their children to eat more vegetables.”

Topics continue evolving, and Zoraida caters each program to the needs of her listeners. She did a segment on the importance of keeping the body hydrated since many of her listeners admitted that they didn’t like drinking water unless it was flavored. She’s received numerous questions about energy drinks and Zoraida encourages parents not to let their teenagers consume energy drinks because they can be harmful.

UConn Extension’s EFNEP staff work statewide to empower participants and provide knowledge and skills to improve the health of all family members. Participants learn through doing, with cooking, physical activity and supportive discussions about nutrition and healthy habits. Although in-person programming is currently limited, all our EFNEP staff continue working in their communities and serving residents.

Zoraida exemplifies the spirit of service and community assistance that the EFNEP program is known for. Zoraida and other EFNEP staff understand the needs of the communities they are serving because they live and work in these communities.

“Salud y Nutrición is one of the best segments we air weekly understanding the need of health education in our community,” Javier continues. “We want to thank UConn Extension for allowing Pastor Velazquez to share her knowledge and years of experience as a Nutrition Educator. Today, we can say that thousands of our listeners have benefited from her knowledge. Radio Love is here to help and serve our community and Pastor Velazquez has been a vessel to our community.”

Questions related to food and nutrition will continue to arise. Zoraida is ready and waiting for them each Friday morning on Radio Amor, or through another channel with UConn EFNEP. Additional resources from the EFNEP program are available at https://efnep.uconn.edu/.

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

Article by Stacey Stearns