The Cooperative Extension Service staff has been busy the last few months helping others to live healthier and more nutritious lives. Through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), led by Lethia Lee, extension agent, 50 students completed the class in the GED program at Sampson Community College, along with 14 ladies from the Garland Shirt Factory.
For the Sampson Community College students, the EFNEP class was just part of their summer session, taught by Lee on Tuesdays. Class instructor Candice Taylor expressed that it was a very beneficial part of the course requirements for her students attending the Basic Education classes and going back to school to earn their GED.
Plant manager Don Teel welcomed Lee and the Extension Office into the Garland Shirt Factory-Brooks Brothers, to help improve his employees and allow them to help themselves to a better life at work and at home. The class met at 11 a.m. after the ladies got off work on Fridays and was held at the plant.
“The ladies decided that they wanted to change their lives by changing their eating habits. This is the first time this program have been in a factory in Sampson County,” explained Lee.
The EFNEP program was developed under the USDA and is a program that uses hands-on learning for adults, teaching them how to make food choices that can improve the nutritional quality of the meals they serve their families.EFNEP helps the participant increase their ability to select and buy food that meets the nutritional needs of their family. The program provides them with new skills in food production, preparation, storage, safety and sanitation, and shows them how to better manage their food budgets. The 10 to 12 lesson programs also teach related topics such as physical activity and health.The Families Eating Smart and Moving More is a part of the program led by Lee.
Lee commended the students in the GED program, noting that she had seen changes in their attitudes and lifestyles to reflect that they were learning to live healthier lives.
“Portion control and learning to read labels has been a really eye-opening experience for my students. They have expressed to me how after participating in the EFNEP class they feel more comfortable going into the grocery store and reading the label and looking for the best values in cost and nutrition. This has certainly been a life-changing experience for my students,” asserted Taylor.
Several of the ladies that participated at the Garland Shirt Factory shared that the program was very impressive and that they had learned a great deal from the class.
“I feel like I have learned that exercise is part of being healthier. It was something I was not doing, but now I am trying to include some exercise in my daily routine,” stated Barbara Bishop.
Cynthia Naylor reported that she learned the importance of reading the labels on food products. “We have always been told to read the labels on our food but we rarely do it. After participating in this class, it is amazing what you can learn by reading a label. You can really find out what is in food, especially things such as sugars and salt,” said Naylor.
Denise Hines agreed, adding, “Learning to plan what you are going to prepare and planning what you are going to buy at the grocery store can really save money and tim,e as well as help you to provide more nutritious meals for your family; that is something I have learned in this class.”
Teel said he was glad to have Lee and the Extension Office come into the factory and offer the class.
“Nutrition is very important to me,” the plant manager stressed. “Jokingly I am glad that these ladies have taken part in the class so they will stop harassing me when I encourage them to eat more nutritious meals. By learning to live healthier lives, they will be able to provide better lives for their families and also be healthier employees. This program is an aggressive approach to better living and I support it.
“Ms. Lee coming into the plant and offering the program to our employees is really an asset and is much better than having to go to another location,” remarked Teel. “It is a win-win program. The ladies learn to be healthier and improve their lives and their families’ lives and, in return, they are also better workers and that spreads throughout the plant. Hopefully we will have more employees willing to take part in a class,” added the manager.
Georgia Melvin added to the comments by sharing that portion control had been something that she appreciated learning. “It used to be that when you went to McDonald’s or Hardee’s you ordered a drink and it was in a reasonable sized cup. Today it is a huge cup even for a medium. Knowing that you can limit the size of what you order is important and will help me to eat better and help maintain my weight,” said Melvin.
Following the completion of the last lesson at each location, a meal of nutritious food items was enjoyed by the students and guest. Lee and her assistant volunteer assistant Carolyn Smith prepared much of the food that was enjoyed as the groups enjoyed the fellowship following the class.