Grant County, Kentucky has an adult obesity rate of 35.6%. In addition to this high obesity rate, many older adults were struggling due to social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, limited access to transportation, food shortages, and increases in food costs. Many of the seniors lived alone and were unable to see family or visit with their neighbors during the height of the pandemic. To help meet these challenges, the Grant County SNAP-Ed Program and the Meadowview Housing Authority collaborated to offer a series of virtual classes using the Healthy Choices For Every Body Curriculum.
Classes were offered weekly, in person at the Housing Authority office. Lessons included instruction on using MyPlate, reading food labels, safe food-handling practices, food budgeting, and food preparation skills for a healthy lifestyle. Along with the lessons, instructional videos on cooking and knife skills were presented, as well as “how to” videos with budget-friendly recipes from the University of Kentucky’s Plan Eat Move site and USDA’s MyPlate. Physical activity tips were also shared with each class.
The program was offered entirely in person for the first time since COVID-19 closures. Participates were physically distanced with masks and videos were used instead of in person demonstrations due to COVID-19 restrictions. Most of the participants had not attended any in-person events in at least a year.
As a result of the class, all ten participants reported improvements in their diet. Participants showed improvement in knowledge related to improved lifestyles through physical activity and nutrition, proper food storage and safety, and meal planning to stretch their budgets through the Healthy Choices curriculum. Although they couldn’t prepare recipes, they were able to watch videos on recipe preparation and food preparation skills. In the area of food safety, three-fourths of the participants (75%) reported using a meat thermometer more often and 63% reported thawing foods at room temperatures less often.
Another participant stated, “It is good to see our neighbors again, I feel like I’m part of society again!”
Participants were excited to have the opportunity to attend a free in-person class. One participant who had relatives who farmed brought in surplus vegetables and eggs to share with class participants at no cost. During the class, older adult participants were linked with local food distribution sites for additional food. When learning they could receive additional food benefits due to the state of emergency in Kentucky, some older adults reapplied for SNAP benefits.
Contact Marisa Aull, Director Nutrition Education Programs for more information.