“We are really trying to reach out across Lucas County, just to
promote healthy lifestyles through education on healthy eating,
being physically active,” said Ms. Serda. “We have a curriculum
we are following, helping folks through the food groups and
giving them ideas on how to shop and save and economically
prepare proper meals. With the way things are going, every
little bit helps.”
The nutrition program can be seen as an anti-poverty program,
because it helps financially-struggling families learn how to
find and prepare low-cost, nutritious foods in an appealing
way—including fresh produce.
“We’re definitely looking at those folks who are low-income,
especially families who have children in the home,” explained
The federal government has changed its official nutrition
information in recent years. What used to be “the food
pyramid” is now called “my plate” (http://myplate.gov/),
which instructs individuals on proper serving sizes and how many
servings per day are appropriate for a given age group.
Because of financial and transportation challenges, many
central-city Latino families are limited in where they can shop
for food. Some neighborhoods don’t have access to a grocery
store—leaving some families eating packaged and processed food.
“If there is no grocery store, what is available—corner stores,
places like that,” said Ms. Serda. “We just try to take that
into consideration and try to give them more things to think
The ultimate goal is to increase the client’s health and try to
create awareness, if it’s not already there, about healthier
Ms. Serda, a sports management major in college, sees her new
role as a continuation of a career that always has been aimed at
helping Latino families. Her education and experience are
blended in her new role.
“I just love being able to work out in the community. Promoting
healthy lifestyles is something I’ve always enjoyed doing,” she
said. “This is a new way to incorporate that with working in the
community. It’s nice to be able to pull from both of those and
do my part.”
The OSU Extension runs an eight-week class for adults for about
an hour each weekly session. Youth classes also are available.
Those classes run six weeks, either in-school or after-school.
“Every week we do a tasting, provide them with a recipe to make
what’s featured in the tasting, then give them an ‘enhancement
tool,’” said Ms. Serda, a reference to kitchen utensils such as
measuring cups or spoons.
The classes are essentially a series of lessons taught by Ms.
Serda and other trained paraprofessionals that include hands-on
activities and food demonstrations to make learning to eat
healthy a fun and interesting experience. Classes are designed
to encourage self-sufficiency skills and lifelong healthy eating
habits. Sessions, offered in both English and Spanish, include
samples of low-cost nutritious recipes, educational videos,
games, and hands-on activities.
Participants learn a
number of skills, including:
how to stretch food dollars to last the whole month;
how to prepare simple, tasty, nutritious meals for the family;
how to read and understand food labels for nutrition and
how to prepare favorite foods while lowering fat and cholesterol
how to prepare and store food safely.
Classes began last week at Adelante, Inc., 520 Broadway, for
Latino families, but the OSU Extension can add more students to
the sessions there, one which runs on Wednesdays and another on
Fridays. Both sessions start at 10:00 a.m.
“We are actively looking for new sites to make this an ongoing
thing,” said Ms. Serda.
Anyone interested in signing up for nutrition classes or
offering a new site can call the OSU Extension office at
419.213.2006 or email Ms. Serda directly at