ASCC-CNR EFNEP Takes Healthy Cuisine to Community
April 22, 2015
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
The Community & Natural Resources (CNR) Division of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) offers a number of regular classroom courses for students, but its staff also makes regular excursions into the community to make learning available to the general public. One such community-oriented initiative is the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), which involves CNR staff taking information on nutrition, healthy cooking, and healthy lifestyles directly to American Samoa’s villages, community groups, public centers and businesses.
“Our goal is to provide nutrition education to the low-income families with young children who want to learn to improve their quality of life,” explained Acting EFNEP Program Manager Mrs. Rebecca Fiame. “We teach individuals or groups basic nutrition concepts, food buying skills, proper food storage, sanitation, and management of available resources and food stamps, and give cooking demonstrations promoting the use of local produce.” Mrs. Fiame and her colleagues can usually be found in villages sharing this knowledge with mothers of young children who spend most of their time at home. They also make regular visits to public locations such as the Food Stamp Office, with the goal of helping recipients make economical and healthy use of their resources.
The EFNEP team provides a series of six nutrition lessons, six food safety lessons and six cooking demonstrations to cover the many aspects of healthy nutrition. With physical activity as important a factor in good health as proper eating, the EFNEP team also demonstrates low-impact exercises which can help housewives stay fit. Funded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the EFNEP services are offered free of charge. “We’re part of the USDA’s overall effort to build and promote a healthier lifestyle for the people of America,” said Mrs. Fiame, “and and we incorporate a holistic outlook compatible with our Pacific cultures.” The EFNEP cooking demonstrations emphasize the use of locally grown produce, even ingredients some might consider unusual such as laupele.
Mrs. Fiame explained that with the wide economic spectrum of American Samoa’s households, as well as our dependence on imported goods, many local residents appreciate the EFNEP team’s advice on how to make nutritious meals even on a limited budget. “Some of the challenges to eating healthy we face here are the availability of the right foods, and higher food prices than in the continental US,” she said. “It’s also a challenge for people to change their eating habits, make wise food choices, and learn to utilize food items following a recipe. For many, income plays a big role in how they eat, choose what to buy, and live their lives in general. If you do not have enough money, you will need to budget and live within your means.” Cooking with locally grown produce and knowing the relative nutrition values of imported foods are two of the methods the EFNEP team suggests can help households get more nutritious meals at a lower cost.
The EFNEP team regularly collaborates with partner organizations such as the Department of Human and Social Services, the Department of Health, the School Lunch Program, the Cancer Coalition, and many others. “We consider it very important to work together with American Samoa’s service providers for the betterment of our community,” said Mrs. Fiame. For more information on EFNEP activities, contact Mrs. Fiame by calling CNR at 699-1575.