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Make a difference as VCE Master Food Volunteer

January 18, 2013 12:10 am

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Master Food Volunteer Jim Syverson (seated) and Ashley Eisenbeiser greet a Vegucation Station visitor at a farmers market last summer.

DO YOU love food? Do you like to cook? Do you want to learn more about nutrition and wellness? Do you enjoy volunteering? Do you want to make a difference in your community?

Then here's your chance to combine your love for cooking, nutrition, physical activity, and helping others and become a Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Food Volunteer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62 percent of adult Virginians and 20 percent of our youth are overweight or obese and at risk of chronic disease. With obesity rates on the rise, it is imperative to promote and educate consumers to adopt healthy eating behaviors and make positive lifestyle changes.

There are fewer than 30 full-time family and consumer science (FCS) extension agents across Virginia, consequently limiting the availability and effect of community programs. Master Food Volunteers can help fill the critical need by expanding program offerings and educating more consumers. As a result, there's an increased opportunity to improve the health and quality of life of local residents.

A Virginia MFV is an individual who acts on behalf of Virginia Cooperative Extension as a volunteer educator within his or her community after receiving training in FCS through cooperative programming with VCE. These volunteer educators serve as partners with VCE to promote and inform. They work with individuals, and industry and community leaders to present programs on all aspects of FCS. MFVs come from various walks of life, but share the same passion for continued learning, the love of food, nutrition, and health, and an interest in helping others. There is no prior educational requirement.

Master Food Volunteers receive a minimum of 30 hours of hands-on; research based training over four weeks. The training will cover topics such as basic nutrition, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-cost meal planning, cooking techniques, food safety, physical activity, healthy lifestyles, and effective teaching techniques for working with diverse audiences.

In addition, volunteers gain important job skills such as leadership, conflict management, public speaking, presentation skills and interpersonal communication. After completing training, volunteers reciprocate with 30 or more hours through education and outreach efforts that are focused on their talents.

Opportunities for service include participating in health fairs, food demonstrations, cooking classes, farmers markets booths, grocery store displays, youth programs, fair judging, providing in-school or after-school programs, community health ministries, writing newspaper or newsletter articles on healthy eating, physical activity and food preparation. Or even create your own program.

Upcoming training dates in Spotsylvania County are Feb. 27 at the Harrison Road Community Center, and March 6, 13 and 20 at the Fairview at River Club. The cost of the four-week training is $95, which covers the cost of lunches, training materials, apron, tote bag, and supplies.




Ashley Eisenbeiser is an agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension's Spotsylvania and Stafford office specializing in Foods, Nutrition, and Health. Phone: 540/507-7568; email: aeisenbeiser@vt.edu.




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