FCHS, the Nutrition Guru!
Programs that offer long-term support and assistance help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities reach new heights and thrive in our communities. Thanks to a NJ SNAP-Ed grant, Rutgers Family & Community Health Sciences (FCHS) partnered with ARC Gloucester County to create a nutrition and lifeskills program for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The partnership was intended to teach residents how to eat healthy and make informed choices about the food they eat. It’s proven to be a partnership that goes well beyond that.
Working with residents and their assistants, the FCHS/ARC partnership created a virtual SNAP-Ed wellness program that includes nutrition lessons, meal planning, in-home exercises, and food preparation activities. The first of its kind during the COVID pandemic, it’s been so successful that the partnership will continue long after life returns to normal.
FCHS works with residential housing directors to coordinate the virtual program. Lesson supplies are purchased and delivered to residential houses. Then, ARC housing directors set up the kitchen for a hands-on nutrition and lifeskills lesson. Residents participate in interactive lessons on topics like shopping at the grocery store, portion sizes, nutrition labels, and many more. Then, they roll up their sleeves and put newfound knowledge to work…right in the kitchen, where they make healthy meals and snacks, and practice important food safety and daily living skills.
FHCS is our Nutrition Guru! Their team has guided ARC Gloucester’s ‘Health Matters Heroes Team’ nutritionally, throughout this COVID pandemic. FCHS has empowered us to create our own healthier grocery lists, try new guilt-free recipes, and to exercise more in our own homes. Their educators inspire us to live our healthiest lives! -Robyn Blanchard, Agency Nurse, ARC Gloucester County
Through these SNAP-Ed lessons, residents learn about cooking and nutrition, meal planning, money management, and smart shopping. But lessons also provides opportunities for residents to learn about responsibility and chores, and working and sharing time together.
Clearly, food plays a greater role than simply nourishing our bodies. And, for our ARC partners, FCHS’s SNAP-Ed program teaches key skills that support individuals with disabilities in improving health, socialization, and building personal independence.