LAWTON, Okla._The Oklahoma State University Extension Office is bringing their Community Nutrition Education Programs to family kitchens all across Southwest Oklahoma.
The goal is to educate low-income families who rely on government assistance—such as WIC, Social Security or disability—on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Families who qualify can have a worker come to their home, for free, for an entire year to conduct cooking classes and give exercise lessons. They'll even bring the food and recipes.
"They will rat you out in a minute. You don't get to sneak a candy bar here and there," Kenard Smith said to his children as they learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.
Kenard Smith is holding his family accountable and is trying to keep everyone on the plan for a new lifestyle. They learned everything they know from Doris Shelton, their nutritionist, who is determined to make all her visits fun and informative
"She just started dancing. I was a little weirded out at first, but then I started dancing," Jaiden Lawrence, Kenard Smith's son, said of the nutritionist.
"Every time we cook, I get to help Thecily. She usually helps too. Most of the time we cook we all work together," Lawrence said.
Having the family work together when it comes to preparing dinner has helped them make smarter choices when eating.
"Sometimes it just seems so much easier to throw it in a pan of grease. It's frying, that's great, but we are able to use different techniques…baking the foods maybe, possibly steaming…that sort of thing," Smith said.
Shelton doesn't only just bring methods of cooking, she bring the groceries too!
"We purchase the taste testing food for them, so if it's something they don't like they haven't wasted any of their funds," Shelton explained.
The family is assigned their duties and everyone gets busy, but it doesn't stop them from learning. The kids are learning math by using fractions while measuring ingredients, and dad and grandma chime in with knowledge as well.
The kids also learn hygiene and safety tips.
"It's nice because I'm not allowed to use the big knife yet. I might cut myself," Thecily Smith said.
Every time a community nutritionist comes to the home, they bring little gadgets, such measuring cups or thermometers, to teach portion control and food safety.