Local students dish on healthy meals

By Queens Courier Staff |

If you want to learn how to eat healthy this summer, head down to the Farmers Market in Jamaica, Astoria or Elmhurst. There, you will be able to sample dishes made by students in a dietetic technician program at LaGuardia Community College and find out some of the key ingredients to having a healthier diet.

Approximately 14 students will set up at the Astoria Greenmarket on 14th Street between 31st Avenue and 31st Road on Wednesdays; the Jamaica Farmer’s Market on 160th Street on Fridays; and the Elmhurst Greenmarket on 80th Street and 41st Avenue on Tuesdays.

There, they will show neighborhood shoppers how they can improve their diets by buying fresh fruit and vegetables that have been grown by local farmers.

“This is a wonderful program that benefits the community, our students and local growers,” said Professor Bette Cohen, director of food and nutrition programs at LaGuardia Community College. “It provides nutritional education to community residents. It allows our students to apply the knowledge and skills they learned in the classroom and to serve the surrounding communities. And, at that the same time, it promotes the local farm community.”

The students’ fieldwork is sponsored by the Cornell University Cooperative Extension’s Farmers Market Nutrition Education Program.

At the markets, the students put on hot and cold food demonstrations that show how to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables donated by the farmers. Shoppers get to sample dishes made by students and take home the recipe.

“We do not want the students to lecture to the residents,” said Cohen who added “the free and easy dialogue leads to discussions on weight loss, diabetes and high blood pressure, and how eating fresh fruits and vegetables can alleviate these problems.”

Coupon recipients are usually people who receive WIC (Woman Infant Child) and seniors. Coupons are worth $24. Students show them how to get the most out of their coupons.

The program gives experience to students who want careers in the nutrition field or are interested in foodservice management.

“In summing up my Farmers Market experience, I would say that I would not have traded it for anything,” said Elsbith Loweth who participated in the program two years ago. “As the season went on, I could see myself evolving. I started out as a shy, fearful student and ended as a confident woman getting ready to enter my profession with the hope of helping the society I live and work in.”