The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Improving Lives, Communities and the Economy

SNAP-Ed Dishes Up Healthy Eating Habits

When Anita Culver was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, this sweet and spirited grandmother knew she needed to make some lifestyle changes.

To aid in her quest for healthy eating, Culver, 76, takes part in SNAP-Ed nutrition education classes offered through UACE in Maricopa County. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program (SNAP-Ed) is funded through the US Department of Agriculture.

"I've learned to eat more fruits and vegetables," said Culver, a retired caregiver. "We are learning how to read food labels. I have been reading labels for years but not closely enough."

Culver takes SNAP-Ed classes at Glendale Adult Center. She visits the Center nearly every day, spending time with friends, playing Wii Bowling, dancing and dining. A steaming bowl of green chile and a plate of fruits and vegetables are a typical meal for Culver as she joins friends at the Center.

Betty S. Thompson, a UACE staff member, leads Culver's SNAP-Ed class. "Betty is a wonderful teacher," Culver said.

Thompson, who uses the Eat Smart, Live Strong program, said the goal is to promote health and reduce disease.

"I do not tell you what you shouldn't eat," Thompson said. "I raise your awareness as to the foods you should include in your diet."

While it's important for Culver to eat fruits and vegetables, she must avoid those high in Vitamin K, which can have a dangerous interaction with blood thinning medication. Through the class, she has learned which fruits and veggies to avoid and which ones to indulge in.

Culver has learned through Thompson how to reduce sodium and added sugars. She has also learned to boost her consumption of heart-healthy fats and whole-grains and to increase her physical activity.

She is committed to staying healthy. "I am going to eat the best I can," Culver said.

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