Inside a classroom at Sampson Community College, a group of students learned that drinking two sodas a day can pack on 31 pounds in one year.
The quick statistic from Lethia Lee raised a lot of eyebrows during the last day of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Under the leadership of Lee, EFNEP agent for Sampson County Cooperative Extension, the goal is to help develop positive behaviors when it comes to health. The recent sessions was Lee’s first time teaching the class at the College. More than 40 students in the GED program completed training for the nutrition program on Monday morning.
“This was one of the largest classes I had and I can say it’s a total success because we got some success stories out of it, even before I was halfway through the program,” Lee said. “It was great.”
Sheron Jones, College and Career Readiness Instructor, said EFNEP is beneficial because of high obesity rates in the area. One of the issues she mentioned was heart and cardiac related diseases, which is higher than other areas. She also liked how the program taught students about hand washing, preparation of food and the importance of exercising.
“It shows how simple steps and small changes can make big differences,” Jones said.
During the program, Colleen Howard and Veronica Darden learned valuable lessons such as watching calories and how to prepare meals. Following the completion of nine classes, more than 40 participants received certificates and cookbooks. Darden stressed that the information may go a long way, especially when it comes to avoiding sugary drinks such as soda.
“Sodas contain a lot of sugar and it’s not good for you,” Darden said. “I think we’ll just do better if we go by what we learned in the program.”
Elvira Carreon, program participant, learned important food handling techniques such as not washing raw chicken before it’s cooked. Doing so may spread bacteria on hands, clothing and nearby surfaces. Her classmate Tammy P. Hopkins also took away valuable lessons when it came to health. Another aspect of the program involved exercise.
“I was walking 4,000 steps a day and now I’m doing up to 8,000 steps,” Hopkins said about the improvements.
Like others in the class, Hopkins is staying away from sodas and salt too. She now drinks eight bottle of waters a day.
“I cut back on my salt intake, I don’t put seasoning salt on my food, I just use garlic powder, onion powder and onions and peppers,” Hopkins said. “I bake my foods now and my goal is to do 10,000 steps a day.”
The certificate she received Monday will become a mental note of the progress she made through the class.
“I’m going to put it on my refrigerator and remind myself how I need to eat better for my life,” she said.
Before joining the sessions, participants Angelnetta Jones and Tatyana Dobson expressed how they did not know a lot about matters such as proper servings or how harmful a lot of sugar can be.
“When I entered this program, it taught me a whole lot and it changed a whole lot,” Jones said.
Like Hopkins, the certificate will serve as a reminder as well.
“When I feel like I can’t do something or if I want to eat something that’s not healthy, I’m going to look at my certificate and say ‘I can do this,’” Jones said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.