It’s been a busy year so far at the Extension Office for Family and Consumer Sciences. Many people may say, what exactly is family and consumer sciences?
For some people, home economics, may be a more familiar term. In today’s world, family and consumer sciences is addressing topics like nutrition, health, food safety, family development, child development, personal finance, and in general, life skills. We target some of the big issues in today’s world, like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and poverty with the help of our resources at the University of Florida and with the help of local partnerships.
So what exactly have I been up to since I started here in January? I’d like to share some of the programs we have offered.
Increasing Financial Well Being in Jefferson County
When it comes to money management, we have had 625 contacts this year. From February to April, we provided free tax preparation, distributed money management calendars and encouraged emergency funds. Through that program over 90 returns were completed, $73,000 went back in refunds, and over $12,000 in tax preparation fees were saved.
We’ve done a Spend, Save, Share program at after school programs, with 4-H Clubs and during camps. We’ve also had a savings initiative at various community events and fairs where 88 youth have made water bottle piggy banks. We are also currently doing a Living on My Own Financial Simulation with one of the high school clubs after school during Tiger Time.
Over the summer, we also had a day camp called Reading Makes Cents. We had 11 youth participate, 8 opened new savings accounts, 70% totally agreed that they knew how to make a deposit at the bank, 90% planned to make more deposits in their savings accounts, and 80% said they could tell others how to spend money wisely.
Increasing Healthy Lifestyles in Jefferson County
When it comes to promoting healthy lifestyles in Jefferson County, we have had 946 contacts. We provide monthly health lessons at the Senior Center and Food Bank, distribute information at health hairs, and during our summer day camps we focused on balanced meals using MyPlate, food safety, and outdoor cooking.
For the adults, we have had classes called Keeping the Pressure Down to help participants manage high blood pressure and we have offered Dining with Diabetes classes to help people learn how to manage their diet and meal plans with diabetes.
One Dining with Diabetes participant said, “I learned to take eating well seriously.”
Over the summer, we also held a Cooking 101 Day Camp for youth. 13 attended, 62% totally agreed that as a result of camp, they were better at working as a team. As a group, their knowledge of using MyPlate to plan balanced meals increased from 23% to 85%, and 100% reported improvement in multiple cooking skills.
Currently, we are also working with over 130 culinary students at the Middle High School providing the SafeStaff Food Handler training so our students can learn about safe food handling practices and earn their certification.
I hope sharing some of our programs this sheds some light on the work we do and the Family and Consumer Science programs we offer in the community.
Just a couple of things we have coming up – the Peanut Butter Challenge starts this Monday Oct. 9th and runs through Nov. 15th. This is a panhandle wide initiative to address hunger and food insecurity in our communities.
The Farm Tour is also coming on Oct. 14th and 15th and the Extension Office will have activities set up at the Golden Acres Ranch, so come out and see us!
For more information on upcoming events, check out the UF IFAS Extension – Jefferson County Facebook page.