“Look at what your grandmother ate. If she didn’t eat it you shouldn’t eat it.”
Sound advice from Jan North Wilcox, the El Dorado Hills Community Vision Coalition SNAP-Ed project coordinator who’s on a mission to get El Dorado County families to eat healthy.
“Today we use a lot of processed/packaged foods. We eat a lot of fast food and we drink giant sodas,” she said. “We’ve gotten away from cooking.”
With activity levels plummeting and one out of three people suffering from weight-related illnesses, Wilcox wants families to rethink what’s on their dinner plates. She encourages substitutions — water instead of soda, fruit instead of cookies, brown rice instead of white — “little things that add more fiber and nutrients into your diet” and, she added, everyone should read labels at the grocery store. Wilcox is also a huge proponent of school, community and family gardens.
“If a child cooks with their parents and they try the vegetables they grow in their own garden they are more likely to try other new things,” Wilcox said, explaining that this leads to healthier choices.
“Education is key,” Wilcox continued. “We all need to learn how our bodies work and what we can do for (disease) prevention. What we eat is so important and a (proper diet) can stave off illness.”
Wilcox will take her message on the road, visiting classrooms from El Dorado Hills to South Lake Tahoe, Georgetown to Mt. Aukum. She’s also collaborating with WIC, First 5, El Dorado County Social Services and Public Health, the UC Cooperative Extension, Food Bank of El Dorado County, CalFresh, El Dorado County Office of Education, Marshall Medical Center and other local organizations to ensure under-served and vulnerable populations receive the nutrition education they need to make better choices.
As part of the SNAP-Ed program, funded by a Network for a Healthy CA three-year grant, Wilcox and health officials will draft a nutrition education and obesity prevention plan that will assess the availability and access to healthy foods, address service gaps in local programs and offer solutions to fill those needs.
“We are very pleased to add this exciting new program to our portfolio of resources and services, combined with Jan’s expertise, and (we’re) dedicated to the health and wellness of our youth,” said Raeann Jones, assistant director of the El Dorado Hills Vision Coalition.
Prior to joining the Vision Coalition’s team, Wilcox worked at Mercy Hospital of Folsom where she developed and was responsible for the Growing Well with Mercy community nutrition education program. Mercy supported several school gardens in El Dorado County, including gardens to Holy Trinity and Lakeview Elementary.
For more information visit edhVisionCoalition.org or call (916) 941-8482.