Home Health & Education TSU’s SNAP-Ed program empowers community for healthy living

TSU’s SNAP-Ed program empowers community for healthy living

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Director of Community Outreach Rita Fleming (l) and SNAP-Ed Agent Angela Settles show ingredients to the community during a food demonstration at the F.R.E.S.H Fair.

by Alexis Clark

Ramona Crawford of Nashville is a 1978 TSU graduate who told the university that she recently started making her own organic juices at home to live a healthier, nutritious lifestyle. Now, along with her juices, Crawford will be creating new and easy recipes after receiving free produce and observing food demonstrations during TSU’s SNAP-Ed program F.R.E.S.H. Fair community event.

“A lot of people, when they get older, they need to eat healthy nutrients to have a long life,” Crawford said. “I came because I wanted to sample the vegetables and the pinto bean salad. I liked it, and I will try to make it at home myself.”

Crawford was one of more than 60 community attendees for the first ever F.R.E.S.H. Fair to cultivate a healthier, more connected community.

On July 15, program hosts, vendors, and volunteers arrived early to set up their abundance of produce, resources, and cooking demonstrations. Tennessee State University dedicated the morning to continuing its commitment to fill the gap in its North Nashville community categorized as a grocery store desert.

Hosted by the SNAP-Ed program, the event took place at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

The event also brought awareness to the university’s efforts in fighting food insecurity and free available resources. Something that TSU senior, Zahria Austin, said she was grateful to be a part of. Austin, who is a family consumer science major, volunteered for the event.

“I assisted in making food demonstrations and teaching everyone the importance of nutritional snacks they can make,” Austin said. “It was a great turn out and a lot of people tried different samples.”

In addition to the recent event, Austin had been teaching nutritional classes to lower income residents and local homeless shelter residents.

“I wanted to spread the love and help out the community.”

One of the many demonstrations began with the art of making homemade hummus. A member of the SNAP-Ed program whipped together chickpeas, lemon juice, and an array of ingredients in a blender to show the crowd the simplicity of the process.

They learned quick and easy, healthy recipes that could be made without cooking and were then given a bag full of ingredients to make the recipes at home. From hummus to black bean dip to hearty vegetable salad, participants said they enjoyed the samples and demonstrations.

TSU alumnus Reggie Marshall, a farmer from West Tennessee, supported the event as one of the five vendors.

He provided bell peppers, 15 varieties of herbs, freshly made lemon zucchini bread and mint tea. All the ingredients were picked right from his own farm, Reggie Veggie Farm in Antioch.

“I’ve been given so much in life and this is a small token of appreciation and gratitude,” Marshall said about attending his alma maters event. He noted that he wanted to educate the community on different herbs to elevate meals rather than just using salt and sugar.

“Try something new,” he told the participants. “We become creatures of habit. Nothing taste as good as healthy feels.”

Through the ongoing efforts, the program host continued to inspire individuals of all ages, proving that healthy eating was not only possible but also a joyful and enriching experience.

TSU SNAP-Ed Agent Angela Settles said the goal was to create and develop incentives for the community during the event with impact on parents, first-time parents, and children.

TSU’s Director of Community Outreach Rita Fleming said the event did just that.

“Today was an opportunity to meet people where they are and give them an idea of what we do for nutrition education,” Fleming said. “We made great connections today.”

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