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Penn State Extension welcomes Nutrition Education Advisor

LEWISTOWN – Penn State Extension has a new Nutrition Education Advisor, Clarissa Beaver joined Extension in October, representing Juniata and Mifflin County Extension and serving these counties.

Former Nutrition Education Advisor Helen Sangrey who served the position for 11 years passed away in March.

Beaver works with low income families through two specific programs aimed at bringing food safety education and basic cooking skills to their homes.

She conducts lessons at the Extension office in Mifflin County as well as at the Career Link in Lewistown.

Beaver helps families through funded programs through Penn State, but primarily works with EFNEP (Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program).

Topics covered in these programs include My Plate, a chart that explains the basic food groups and how much your family needs of these food groups every day. She also shares information on basic hygiene, food safety, and how to stretch your dollar at the grocery store.

Beaver said she would like to assist families who receive food bank items and help them find recipes for those items.

“Sometimes there will be donated items that most people dont usually use such as chick peas or black beans. I want to help them make meals that taste good,” Beaver said.

Beaver added her goal is to not only help families eat tasty, healthy meals, but also help those who have no experience cooking at all.

“Some people just need to understand how to boil pasta and how to get meat to reach a specific temperature,” she said.

The EFNEP program consists of five classes that covers these areas. If participants attend all five classes, they “graduate,” she said, and earn a certificate. They will also receive a free gift which may include brand new cutting boards, pot holders, vegetable brushes, etc.

“There are lots of opportunities with this program,” Beaver said, “And it’s not just for moms and dads. It may be and aunt who has custody of nieces and nephews or grandparents raising their grandchildren,” she said, adding this is open to foster parents as well.

The only requirement is that there is a child in the home and the family meets low income requirements.

Beaver joins Extension with nine years of food service experience and is a certified nurse’s aid.

“Food has always been my passion. I love to cook,” she said, and said there was a time when she herself was low income and was trying to make ends meet with a child.

“It’s hard when you’re young and you are alone and have children. This class is so needed in the community.”

Beaver also acknowledged the hard work Sangrey had put into the program and said she is thankful for the manner in which she served.

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