Extension teaches Portland area's Hispanic population about healthy eating

Extension's Lucy Lores leads a cooking demonstration in Portland.
Extension's Lucy Lores leads a cooking demonstration in Portland. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Program includes recipes in Spanish, and pictures for those who can't read

People of Hispanic origin comprise 12 percent of Oregon’s 3.9 million people. Because of limited English or education, some don't understand the dietary dangers of too much sugar, fat and sodium.

So with help from local partners, the OSU Extension Service provides nutrition and food safety education to low-income Hispanic families in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. Teaching tools include bilingual pictorial recipes. Through its Metro Hispanic Nutrition program, Extension reached more than 3,000 limited-income adults and youths in 2012-13, three-quarters of whom were Hispanic.

One of the families was referred to the program by a local health department because their 11-year old boy was overweight and had high cholesterol. So Lucy Lores, an Extension nutrition educator, taught the whole family to drink fewers sugary beverages and to cook at home using healthier ingredients, including vegetables, fruits and skim milk. Upon completion of the course, the boy's cholesterol was normal and he had lost 16 pounds. In addition, the entire family added more physical activity to their daily routines.

The mother of the boy said, “Thanks to the nutrition education classes, we made many changes in my house for the whole family, not just for my son. I am now using oil with less saturated fat, using less oil in cooking and no longer frying anything. My husband, my children and I eat healthier now, drink more water and feel better." 

View a narrated slideshow about the program.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Lynn Steele, director of OSU Extension's Metro Hispanic Nutrition program.


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