December 7, 2022


Qualified food specialists

Leadership Jackson County project team creates program to promote healthy food choices

3 min read
Leadership Jackson County health project team members, from left, Jake Brown, Rob Henley, Denise Connell and Joe Barnes give their project presentation May 20 at Pewter Hall in Brownstown. Zach Spicer

Based on the success of a healthy food choices program in Jennings County, a version of it will be offered in Jackson County.

The Leadership Jackson County health project team of Joe Barnes, Jake Brown, Denise Connell, Rob Henley and Jamie Napier partnered with Schneck Medical Center and Purdue Extension Jackson County to create a four-week pilot program.

The four classes will target people with poor diet quality and poor access to food.

The topics will include gardening Aug. 10, food labeling Aug. 17, food budgeting and meal planning Aug. 24 and family meals Aug. 31. There also will be food demonstrations by Bethany Daugherty with Schneck during the second and fourth classes.

All four classes will start at 3 p.m. at Schneck Medical Center’s Laurel Place a block south of the Seymour hospital’s campus and will be limited to 30 participants. Each session will be streamed online for those unable to attend.

Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana will provide food boxes at the end of the second and fourth classes, and door prizes will be handed out during each class.

“The goal is to use the foods in the Gleaners food boxes to show the participants how to create a healthy meal based on what they receive in those boxes,” Connell said.

When the project team learned about the program in Jennings County from Napier, Brown said their goal was to figure out what it would look like in Jackson County.

They initially wanted to include farmers and the farmers market since that’s how it works in Jennings County.

With the classes being offered in Jackson County in August, though, that’s past the peak growing season, so the team went a different direction.

That’s how they got connected to Schneck and Purdue Extension.

“We got involved in some of the Purdue Extension statewide meetings, and as a group, we decided that we would like to tie into their 12-week program,” Brown said. “We also wanted to keep the element from the Jennings County project where we would be able to utilize the local farmers.”

The group then reached out to Gleaners and the local Purdue Extension office.

Barnes said they decided to alter the scope of the program for the first year and go from 12 weeks to four weeks and offer in-person and online options for the classes. That way, it would have growth potential and be sustainable.

“As we developed it, everything changed, so flexibility became paramount,” Henley said of the project. “We had to be able to bend to comply to make it something that would work.”

Schneck and Purdue Extension will advertise when class signups begin.

“The collective vision was rather do a four-week program and do a really great job and get good buy-in from the community that produces results for the people participating so when Purdue takes over next year, people will buy into and want to participate again,” Connell said.

Participants will complete surveys before, during and after the program so Purdue Extension will have feedback when organizing the classes in the years to come.

“Hopefully, all of that information compiled at those weekly meetings will give them a good basis moving forward,” Connell said.

“Purdue is going to complete the program in August but hopefully take it again next year and really become a thriving thing that lasts year after year after year,” Henley said.

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