A year ago, 14 area volunteers earned the distinction of becoming the first “Master Food Volunteer” graduating class in the Roanoke Valley.
This year, they have given more than 900 hours leading or assisting with food and nutrition educational workshops, presentations and demonstrations. The statewide Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Master Food Volunteer program started in 2009 and now has more than 120 Master Food Volunteers throughout the state. The “master volunteer” concept has been successfully used for many years by the Virginia Master Gardener Program. The Master Food Volunteer Program uses a similar approach — training volunteers who pass along education to the public.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62 percent of adult Virginians and 20 percent of the youth are overweight or obese and at risk of chronic disease,” said Melissa Chase, state coordinator of the Master Food Volunteer Program. “There is a critical need for educating consumers to improve overall health and quality of life in Virginia. Our volunteers are helping to fill this need.”
The goal of the Roanoke Valley Master Food Volunteers is to provide ideas, resources and information on how to choose and use wholesome food for healthy living. In keeping with their goal, they have helped hundreds of program participants learn how to cook, plan meals, shop smart, eat seasonally, lighten up recipes, preserve food and lose weight. As the Roanoke Valley Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent and leader of this group, I couldn’t be prouder of these volunteers and would like to recognize and thank each one:
Camille Cullen, Wendy Dill (moved to Richmond), Joe Dupuis, Maxine Fraade, Emilee Hall, Jan Keilman, Linda Koester, Derrick McCloe, Carolyn Moore, Kim and Cassidy Pannell, Lewis Shontell, Fran Thacker and Melanie Van Guilder. Most of these folks will continue volunteering with the MFV program in 2013, and we have been planning for our next MFV training which will begin Jan. 22 and run for five weeks, 30 hours. We hope to train another dozen people who are passionate about food, nutrition and health and are willing to give at least 30 hours getting out in the community to help build a healthier Roanoke Valley.
For more information about the Roanoke Valley Master Food Volunteer training in January 2013, to receive an application or to find out about future educational programs, contact Deb Chappell, 772-7524 or email@example.com or go to our website at www.offices.ext.vt.edu/roanoke.
– Submitted by Deb Chappell, Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent