A University of Wyoming nutrition program is adding to its services by hurdling COVID-19 social distancing barriers and offering online nutrition classes to individuals through partner …
A University of Wyoming nutrition program is adding to its services by hurdling COVID-19 social distancing barriers and offering online nutrition classes to individuals through partner agencies.
Partners learn the value of reading Nutrition Fact labels, living an active lifestyle, practicing food safety and applying cooking skills to prepare their own meals, according to Laramie County Cent$ible Nutrition Program educator Kelsi Goldfarb.
The program’s website also offers a variety of resources to help Wyoming residents make adjustments as COVID-19 continues to impact day-to-day life. Resources include at-home activities, recipes, a list of pantry staples to keep stocked, personal finance information and more. Resources are available at https://uwyocnp.org/coronavirus/.
The Cent$ible Nutrition Program halted in-person classes earlier this year but recently completed training for Overture, an agency that provides services and support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and has offices in Wyoming, New Mexico and along the Colorado Front Range.
When COVID-19 hit in March, the Cent$ible Nutrition Program was able to pivot and change its programming, said Mindy Meuli, the program’s director.
“We are branching out and exploring new ways of delivering nutrition and physical activity education while looking for opportunities to partner with community organizations,” she said.
In July, leadership at Overture asked the Cent$ible Nutrition Program about the possibility of classes.
This was also the start of online group classes for program and through some coordination with Overture, ended up being just what the clients wanted.
“Zoom worked really well with the participants,” said Kell Poniatowski, a coordinator at Overture. “They could hear the program very clearly and participate really well.”
Once a week, the nutrition portion of the lesson was taught via Zoom, and coordinators at Overture helped participants make that week’s Cent$ible Nutrition recipe.
“We had the clients work in different groups prepping the meal,” said Poniatowski. “Each of them had a turn stirring ingredients, measuring, reading the recipe, or serving the snack to everyone. These recipes were easy to follow and great for the clients to make as a group.”
Cooking the CNP recipes each week gave some of the participants the tools they needed to meet their goals, such as making some healthy changes to their diets.
“Cent$ible Nutrition has given me great recipes to add more vegetables into my meals each day,” said one participant. “I love how quick and easy these recipes are.”
For other participants, some of the activities over Zoom ended up changing the choices they make every day.
“Learning about the Think Your Drink was so eye-opening with the amount of sugar I was consuming over a year span,” a participant said. “I am working toward cutting soda out, but I have dropped from six to three sodas a week and have a lot more energy for my physical activity that we also have increased to 45 minutes per day.”
Poniatowski echoed the comment and noted that, “Being able to see the number of calories and sugar in different items that we are using on a day-to-day basis has been a big take-away. Each of the clients are now so much more aware of reading the labels when shopping.”
The online format also helped meet participant needs.
“This format really allowed those who needed to move about the room during the class time be able to and not disrupt others, and it also allowed the clients to do things together such as the exercise videos and use the materials,” said Poniatowski, who added she would recommend the online format to other agencies.