KINGSTON, R.I.- January 10, 2018- The University of Rhode
Island’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program has been providing
critical food and exercise information to vulnerable members of the community
This year, the program is using a new curriculum and hopes
participation will exceed the 468 families who enrolled last year.
The nine-week course is offered at different times
throughout the year, with the next session starting Tuesday, Jan. 23, and
continuing every Tuesday until Mar. 20 from 12:30 until 2 p.m. This program
will be held at the West Warwick Health Equality Zone Hub, 1229 Main
St., West Warwick, R.I.
The federally funded program, which is part of URI’s
Cooperative Extension, was started during the 1960s in an effort to educate the
community during a time of widespread malnutrition. Now 50 years later, in a
nation where being overweight or obese is one of the major causes of morbidity,
the program aims to help some of the state’s most vulnerable populations serve
their families good quality food on a budget. In addition to West Warwick, the
program serves Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket and Newport, but
other Rhode Island residents are welcome to participate.
“The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program is an
opportunity for participants to engage in hands-on nutrition education through
workshop-style classes where educators facilitate learning and participants can
work in small groups,” said Katie Mulligan, the program’s director. “Attendees
work together to come up with ways to improve health and nutrition and engage
in weekly cooking exercises where they get geared up, complete with aprons and
hairnets, to prepare a healthy meal to be served to the entire group.”
The program is not solely based on food, though.
Participants also engage in aerobic and physical activities to emphasize the
importance of a well balanced lifestyle that extends beyond the kitchen. These programs
are facilitated by URI staff members who live in the communities they are
“Our main goal is to disseminate University-based research
in the most effective way possible to people who would benefit greatly from
it,” said Mulligan. “We hope that participants are able to improve their diets
by eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while reducing the amount
of money spent on food each month. The confidence to be gained through this
program is something that continues far past its end.”
In 2016, the program held 39 adult workshops, from which 216
families received a certificate of graduation. Certificates are awarded to
families and individuals who attend at least seven of the nine free workshops.
Mulligan says that graduate certificates are far more valuable than they
appear, as some participants have cited them on their resumes to show
commitment to a program and the acquisition of new skills.
The program conducted more than 134 youth programs last
year, from which 2,184 local children graduated.
“This program has a profound impact and can truly be life
changing to some of these families,” explained Mulligan. “In a world where
healthcare is so expensive, this program helps the people who need it most and
has proven positive results which should be taken advantage of.”
Another course offering is available from Friday, Apr. 6
through June 8 at the Tri-Community Action Agency, 33 Maple Ave. North
Providence, R.I. These sessions will be held from 1 until 2:30 p.m.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to
register for the course.
Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications
Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this press release.