Collaborating for Community Health
Extension creates partnerships to increase productivity, consolidate resources, and eliminate duplication of services that share the common goal of improving community health. The Oldham County Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) agent brought nutrition, food safety, and cooking classes to existing programs at the LaGrange YMCA, local food pantries, farmers markets, and health clinics. These combined efforts fight the growing rate of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and foodborne illness.
In June, Kids Cooking Camp provided an opportunity for youth to explore healthy eating habits and practice food safety. The participants took home recipes and prepared meals for their families.
During the summer, a partnership with Dare to Care Food Bank brought the Cooking Matters program to youth in La Grange.
In the fall, 4-H Cooking Academy reached youth at East Oldham Middle School.
Healthier Lifestyles for Substance Abusers
Although ranked highest for health and wealth in Kentucky, Oldham County suffers from a high rate of substance abuse. Binge drinking and opioid usage have greatly increased in the past few years. Currently, Oldham County’s alarming rate for binge drinking is 3% above the state average.
Moreover, the U. S. Department of Justice has found that 76.9% of drug offenders are rearrested. A judge supervised substance abuse program, Drug Court seeks to rehabilitate substance abusers, helping prevent participants from relapsing into criminal behavior to instead become productive members of society.
In May 2018, Oldham County Extension partnered with the chief circuit court judge to bring food safety and nutrition to the Drug Court substance abuse program. The Oldham County FCS agent encourages healthy eating and cooking as well as daily exercise. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Program (EFNEP) assistant helped demonstrate easy, economical recipes that emphasize “MyPlate” recommendations. Participants received pedometers and educational materials for meal planning, food security, and cooking skills. This program was offered in both the morning and evening to accommodate work schedules.
The participants in the court-ordered program all planned to reduce their serving sizes, cook and eat at home more often, and exercise daily. The program supervisor also reported that several participants indicated using the recipes the day after the programs.
Since the May program, the EFNEP assistant has taught ongoing monthly classes to help reinforce the important issues of food safety, budgeting, and basic cooking skills.
Written by Chris Duncan, Oldham County Family and Consumer Sciences Agent; Sherry Ragsdale, Oldham County Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Assistant; and Lauren Fernandez, Oldham County Extension Assistant.