Partnership with Sherman County Senior Center expands Extension nutrition education program

The Sherman County Senior Center receives grant funding from the Community Action Program of East Central Oregon (CAPECO). The non-profit organization encourages educational programming at its sites receiving grants, such as congregate meal sites like the Sherman County Senior Center in Moro. Due to limited staffing plus restrictions due to COVID-19, the Sherman County Senior Center had been offering very limited educational opportunities, however.

Prior to fall of 2022, Oregon State University Extension Service’s Supplemental Nutrition Education Program (SNAP-Ed) unit in Sherman County focused on programming at Sherman County School in Moro. Last fall, Cindy Brown, OSU Extension’s SNAP-Ed educator in Sherman County, approached Kari Silcox, Sherman County Senior Center manager, with the idea to offer older adult nutrition and wellness programming to older people. This equitable approach allows a more diverse audience to benefit from Extension’s nutrition education programs.

A total of 13 participants attended a nine-part class series over a two-month period. Brown taught the “Seniors Eating Well” curriculum developed by Penn State Extension.

All 10 participants who completed a post-series survey reported at least one area of improvement in nutrition knowledge and/or practices. Of the respondents, four agreed that with the statement “when I want to know if a food is a healthy choice, I read the nutrition facts on the package.” Two of the respondents reported that they went from eating fruit “two times a day” to “three times a day or more” after completing the class.

Extension staff in Sherman County are now offering older adult programs at Sherman County Senior Center satellite locations throughout the county. These programs are free and open to all, but primarily focused on adults who are 50 and older who are interested in health and wellness education. In January and February 2023, Brown taught the “Eat Smart, Live Strong” and “OSU Food Hero Older Adult” curricula at Rufus City Hall.

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