DOBSON — The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and 4-H kicked off the “Summer Explosion” series with a “Smart Shopper” class for 9-12-year olds.
Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Education Carmen Long led Wednesday’s class. According to Long, the goal of the smart shopper class is to teach children to plan low-cost, healthy meals.
Figuring prominently in the training is the new USDA “My Plate” method that has replaced the “food pyramid” that was used to teach many healthy meal planning. My Plate has more emphasis on fruit and vegetables. The new guidelines use food groups in proportions on a plate to visually express a healthy diet.
My Plate stresses the healthy diet on the plate should be half filled with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of the plate should contain protein and a quarter of the plate should contain carbohydrates such as the grain group.
“This is a new way of envisioning eating healthy,” explained Long. “It does make healthy choices simpler. You can tell easier if you plate is filled with the correct choices.”
She also said that the program uses colors to help teach healthy diet choices. Green, for instance, is used to represent the half plate of fruit and vegetables. Participants are encouraged to eat foods of many different colors.
“Serving sizes are also important,” continued Long. “Sometimes it is not what you eat but how much. We stress to the children that it’s a plate not a platter.” Long said the course considers a nine and one-half inch diameter plate an average size plate.
“Generally, small is better,” said Long. “This makes it look like you have more food on the plate. Too many servings hanging over on our plates will give you a ‘hangover’ of body fat over our belts!” She said class participants are taught that having servings in proportion on a plate will also keep the body’s proportions balanced. She added that interested persons can visit the My Plate.gov website for more information.
The class then moves on to the planing stages by looking at grocery fliers and identifying economical purchases. The groups then went to Food Lion in Dobson for a grocery tour and did comparison shopping for food they will later prepare for lunch.
Long said they discuss gardening at home as a means to supplement their diet economically. She also said they talk with the participants about how important it is to buy fruit and vegetables that are in season.
“Most things in season are tastier and less expensive,” said Long. “We spend time also telling them about what’s grown locally.” Peels and other plant remnants from preparing lunch are saved and composted on site.
The class wrapped up with representatives of Wells Fargo who spoke with the children about spending and saving and money management. Long said that Wells Fargo approached cooperative extension to see if there was a way to help with youth education.
The Summer Explosion program will continue Friday with the “Stories and Cents” class for children 5-8 years. Children will learn more about money through money games, crafts and activities.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.