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Social Services receives Foster Families training through VA Cooperative Extension

Foster families are a unique and important part of communities nationwide.  Foster parents provide a temporary and often permanent home for youth whose biological parents are unable to care for them in an adequate manner.  Unfortunately, because these youth frequently come from broken homes they often have various mental, behavioral and health issues. Two out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese and one out of three children. With childhood obesity on the rise across the nation, children in foster homes may be at an even greater risk.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences extension unit has partnered with Social Services to provide a nutrition and health training for Foster Families in Pulaski County. On Saturday, May 17 this training was held at the Pulaski Episcopal Church from 10:00am to 2:00pm. The goal of this training was to educate participants on the following topics: 1) MyPlate and nutrition guidelines, 2) Meal planning on a budget and grocery shopping, 3) Label reading, healthy snacks, and beverages, and 4) Family meal time and meals on-the-go. Pre- and posttests indicated the following behavior changes from participants:

  • By the end of the course 73 percent of participants could accurately list the 5 main food groups compared to an initial 37 percent.
  • There was a 50 percent increase in participants who understood the MyPlate diagram after the course was completed.
  • 87 percent of participants could identify three healthy snack options after the course compared to the 19 percent before.

Participant comments on the training and changes participant plan to make were:

  • Very informative, help eat healthy on a budget.
  • Everything was great, wealth of information.
  • I thought this would be boring and instead I couldn’t take everything in!
  • Reduce sugar intake and sweet drinks.
  • Add more fruits and veggies to my diet.

This four-hour course was well received by all participants and members of social services that worked with us. Grant funding from the Svoboda Foundation made it possible to purchase food items and incentives for all participants. Each participant received a healthy cookbook, a non-stick fry pan, a spatula, a whisk and other informational handouts.

Participants who attended the Foster Parent health and nutrition educational program organized by Virginia Cooperative Extension and Pulaski Social Services.

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