Online Nutrition and Food Safety Lessons Address Needs of Older Iowans

Senior women enjoying meal together at homeAMES, Iowa -- Older Iowans can quickly learn about what to eat, how to keep food safe and how to increase their physical activity by trying free online nutrition lessons from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“Almost one-quarter of older Iowans are at-risk for malnutrition or are malnourished,” said Sarah L. Francis, a nutrition and wellness extension state specialist and associate professor in the College of Human Sciences.

“Food safety also is a concern for older Iowans, who are at increased risk of foodborne illness. They can lower their risk by following safe food handling practices,” Francis said.

Francis and her research team developed seven online lessons to address the nutritional and food safety needs of older Iowans. Three lessons address nutrition, because Francis’ research indicated older Iowans often are not eating at least three meals daily and have limited intakes of fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods – lifestyle barriers contributing to their nutritional risk. In addition, most older Iowans are not physically active, so Francis and her team developed a lesson on physical activity. Three food safety lessons addressing identified “high needs” areas were developed as well.

These free, online lessons provide a brief (five to eight minutes) overview of the recommended behaviors and the associated benefits, Francis said. Each lesson also includes links to other online resources. The lessons are Feast of Fruits and Vegetables, Three Meals a Day, Power Up with Protein, Exercise Your Independence, Freeze Smart, Thaw Safely and It’s All about the Temperature. The lessons are available for viewing online at

For more information contact Francis at or 515-294-1456, or any Human Sciences Extension and Outreach specialist in nutrition and wellness.