Program Helping Rural Residents Improve Diets

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A Fairbanks based program is helping rural residents improve their diets.  The University of Alaska Fairbanks Interior Aleutians Campus Troth Yedha Nutrition Project offers certificate and degree course programs that cover a range of food related topics. Student and mom Caroline Dillard of Northway says the course has changed how she shops.

Dillard says when her kids get home from school instead of eating chips and cookies they’re eating celery or cucumbers.  She says the switch to healthy foods has changed life for family members, including her teenage daughter.

Dillard works as a cook at the Northway School, and she says the same approach has improved the menu for the students she serves. She says school lunches and snacks are giving village kids the food they need to be healthy.

Dillard says the Gateway School District is very supportive of her efforts at Northway.

In the western interior village of Nikolai, student and mom Tamara Roberts says cost is also a major barrier to buying healthy food in the Kuskokwim River community, where everything has to be flown in on small planes.

Roberts says the nutrition class has taught her about diabetes, and what not to eat.

Roberts says she’s also learned about the danger of saturated fats in store bought pork and beef, and the healthy attributes of locally harvested meats.   She says they’ve always hunted, fished and picked berries, but now understands the nutritional benefits of the local foods.

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