AMES, Iowa – The state nutrition and health team for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach recently added to its numbers. Jody Gatewood, new assistant state nutrition program specialist, will split her time between two nutrition education programs --- the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Family Nutrition Program (FNP) --- and nutrition research grant projects.
ISU Extension and Outreach provides several programs that supply families with healthy living and eating suggestions. Gatewood will work with EFNEP and FNP coordinator Peggy Martin on these two programs for families with low incomes. Specifically, she will work with program supervisors and program assistants, building their skills so they can better engage families and help them change unhealthy lifestyles.
“In my former position with ISU Extension and Outreach, I worked as a program specialist and taught community members nutrition education,” Gatewood said. “In this position, I can help make others better teachers. I’ll also reach more people through the teachers I teach.”
In addition, Gatewood will work with Ruth Litchfield, assistant professor and extension nutrition specialist, on a worksite wellness research study and an Iowa Department of Education research project on lunch and recess. Extension to Families is partnering with Iowa State’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) to work with three companies interested in worksite wellness programs. Gatewood will help develop nutrition education materials, and assist with the health risk appraisal testing for the companies. In the second project, Gatewood will work with a team from Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Education to research the effectiveness of recess before lunch at Iowa schools. The Department of Education proposes, through research, that having recess before lunch will spur students to eat more and behave better. She will split her time between EFNEP and FNP and the research projects.
“People have to have a knowledge of living healthfully, so they can make wise food and activity choices and lead productive lives,” Gatewood said. “Healthy living effects so many areas of peoples’ lives, from finances to family life. EFNEP and FNP have been providing healthy living education and providing knowledge and support to families to help them make a change to live healthier. These programs tie-in well with the governor’s Healthiest State Initiative.”
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Family Nutrition Program (FNP) staff work with pregnant teens, families with young children and youth. Program staff meet with participants one-on-one and in small groups. Lessons are selected depending on the needs and wants of the participants. The lessons include activities, worksheets, games and cooking.
Participants learn how to:
Families and youth strengthen communication, decision-making and problem-solving skills through the lessons. These life skills help participants obtain employment and nurture family relationships.
The Healthiest State Initiative is a privately led public effort that will engage Iowans and their communities throughout the state. It will involve individuals, families, businesses, faith-based organizations, not-for-profits and the public sector in a broad-based, community-focused effort.
The goal of initiative program is to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation in five years.