Living Well In The Panhandle

Ghoulishly Good Practices for Halloween

Ghoulishly Good Practices for Halloween

Make Halloween a fun and safe night for children and adults alike.

From candy to pumpkins to the costumes, Halloween is a fun-filled time for kids and adults alike. However, it can pose dangers. To help make this year’s trick-or-treat a safe and fun time, follow these simple safety tips compiled by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure shoes fit well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flames.

Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.

Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes. The makeup should be tested on a small patch of skin ahead of time to ensure there are no unpleasant allergies on the big night.

When shopping for costumes, wigs, and accessories, look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are “flame resistant.”

If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by the accessories if he/she stumbles or trips.

Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.

Review with children how to call 911 if they ever have an emergency or become lost.

Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then adults can do the cutting.

Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.

Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and not on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. They should never be left unattended.

To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, and lawn decorations.

Adults should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.

Wet leaves and debris should be swept from sidewalks and steps.

Restrain pets so they do not jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

A responsible adult should always accompany young children during their neighborhood trick-or-treating.

Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and adults.

If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.

Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.

Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or-Treaters to:

  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Carry a cellphone for quick communication.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out of driveways.
  • Do not assume the right of way. Motorists may have a hard time seeing Trick-or-Treaters.
  • Just because one car stops does not mean others will!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.


A good, healthy dinner prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage children from filling up on Halloween treats.

Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books, stickers, or pens and pencils.

Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.

Try to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween to prevent overindulging, which will lead to a stomachache and ruin the night’s fun.

Make sure the Halloween night is fun and safe with the suggested tips above.  These tips will help guarantee you all a ghoulishly good time.

Source:  American Academy of Pediatrics



Author: Melanie Taylor –

Melanie Taylor

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Fraud Alert vs. Credit Freeze

Fraud Alert vs. Credit Freeze

Photo credit: Judy Corbus

If you have been affected by the recent Equifax data breach, you may be exploring your options as to what to do next.  All three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, give you the option of placing a fraud alert or a credit freeze on your file.  So, what is the difference between a fraud alert and a credit freeze?

Fraud Alert

When you activate an initial fraud alert on your report, a business must verify your identity before it issues credit, so it may try to contact you.  This can make it more difficult for an identity thief to open new accounts in your name.  The initial fraud alert stays on your report for 90 days and you can renew it at the end of the 90-day period.  Fraud alerts are free and the credit reporting agency you call must tell the other agencies about your alert.  It also allows you to order a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies.  Be sure the credit reporting agencies have your current contact information so they can reach you.

You can place an extended fraud alert on your credit file if you have created an Identity Theft Report.  With an extended alert, you can get two free credit reports within 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies, and the agencies must take your name off marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years, unless you request to be added back to the lists.  The extended alert lasts for seven years.

Credit Freeze

A credit freeze generally stops all access to your credit report.  If you wish to open a new account, apply for a job, rent an apartment, buy insurance, refinance your mortgage – any transaction requiring a credit check – you must contact the credit reporting agency to lift the freeze, either temporarily or permanently.  You will get a PIN to use each time you wish to freeze or unfreeze your account.  In most states, there is a fee to activate a freeze as well as to lift it – usually around $ 10 for each and per credit reporting agency.  There also is a lead time before the freeze is lifted so you would need to arrange for it in advance or be prepared to wait a few days if you planned to apply for credit.  Cost and freeze lift lead times may vary so you may wish to check your state’s law or contact the credit reporting agency in advance.  In most states, a credit freeze lasts until you lift it; in a few states, it expires after seven years.   Click here for the Florida Statute regarding consumer security freezes.

A credit freeze may not prevent misuse of your current accounts or other types of identity theft, such as tax refund identity theft and health insurance fraud.  Also, companies with whom you do business still would have access to your credit report for some purposes.

So, fraud alert or credit freeze?  It depends a lot on what you have coming up in the near future.  If you’re planning to apply for a loan or mortgage, you will have to unfreeze and freeze with each application – consider the cost and time involved.  If you are not planning to apply for new credit, then a credit freeze may be a good option for you.

For more information on credit fraud alerts and freezes, visit:

Place a Fraud Alert and Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes


Federal Trade Commission – Place a Fraud Alert

Federal Trade Commission – Extended Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes

Federal Trade Commission – Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze – Which is Right for You?

UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County – Equifax Security Breach: Steps to Protect Yourself



Author: Judy Corbus –

Judy Corbus is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with UF/IFAS Extension Washington and Holmes Counties.;

Judy Corbus

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The Equifax Data Breach: How to Protect Yourself

The Equifax Data Breach:  How to Protect Yourself

Photo credit: Judy Corbus

The recent security breach at Equifax from mid-May through July 2017 exposed the personal information of 143 million people; this included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver license numbers.  You may be wondering, “Am I affected?” and, if so, “What should I do now?”

First, find out if your information was exposed at  Make sure you are on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection.  Even if your information was not exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services.  The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll.  Write down the date and return to the site and click “Enroll” on that date.  You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.

Order your free credit reports annually through the federally authorized web site You are allowed one free report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies:  Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Your credit reports will provide a detailed history that may better alert you to credit fraud.

Consider a credit freeze.  A credit security freeze prevents credit reporting agencies from releasing your credit report or information from it, with a few exceptions, unless you lift the freeze.  A credit freeze prevents identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name but it won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.  It also does not prevent non-credit related frauds, such as tax refund identity theft and health insurance fraud.  For these, consumers are advised to “be vigilant.”

You must request a credit freeze with each agency.  In Florida, the fee to place a freeze is $ 10 with each agency for persons under age 65.  If you are 65 or older or have been a victim of identity theft, the fee is waived.  Currently, Equifax is waiving fees.  You will need to lift the freeze if you want to open a new account, change insurance policies, rent housing, or sign up for new utilities or phone service – any transaction requiring a credit check.  The fee to lift the freeze, either temporarily or permanently, is $ 10 per agency and it may take up to three business days for the lift to take effect.

Credit freeze requests may be made online, by phone, or by certified U.S. mail.  Be patient and persistent, as many consumers are filing requests; websites often get overloaded temporarily.  Below is the contact information for each credit reporting agency for each contact method:






Equifax: 800-685-1111
Experian: 888-397-3742
TransUnion: 888-909-8872

U.S. Mail

Equifax: Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian: Experian, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion: TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016

For mailed security freeze requests, include the following information in a cover letter format:

  • Full name (with middle initial) and former name, if applicable
  • Current address and former addresses within the last five years
  • Social Security number
  • Full date of birth (month, day, year)
  • Signature
  • Photocopies of two forms of identification, such as a government-issued identity card and proof of residence such as phone bill or utility company bill.

For more information, visit:

Federal Trade Commission – steps to take to protect your information:

Adapted from:

The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do, Federal Trade Commission

Equifax Security Breach: Steps to Protect Yourself, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County

To Freeze or Not to Freeze My Credit Report?, University of Illinois Extension

Credit Freeze Information in the Wake of the Equifax Hack, Rutgers University Extension



Author: Judy Corbus –

Judy Corbus is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with UF/IFAS Extension Washington and Holmes Counties.;

Judy Corbus

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National Grandparents Day 2017: September 10


For nearly 40 years, National Grandparents Day has been celebrated as an opportunity to express gratitude for all that grandparents do for families and communities.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau Profile, America Facts for Features, in 1970, Marian McQuade initiated a campaign to establish a day to honor grandparents.  In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a federal proclamation, declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day to be National Grandparents Day.

Across the U.S., not only are grandparents appreciated for sharing their time, wisdom, and values, but they are currently stepping up to raise over 7.2 million children under the age of 18 whose biological parents are unable to do so, thus keeping the children out of the foster care system.  In Florida, 11% of children live in homes where householders are grandparents or other relatives.

Locally, in Leon County, there are more than 2,000 grandparent-headed families, where:

  • 13.1% of the grandparents are 60 years and older
  • 39.8% of these families live below the poverty level
  • Nearly 50% of these families have had the children for 5 or more years

The reasons as to why so many grandparents are raising grandchildren are many and varied.  Nationally, substance abuse causes more than one third of this type of placement.  Nevertheless, because of a grandparent’s selfless devotion and generosity to the needs of others, grandparents are, in fact, owed a great deal of thanks for their altruism.

As one grandmother exclaimed, “For my 50th birthday, I got a 2 year-old.  My story isn’t unique.”  In fact, grandparent roles in children’s lives are so significant that the Grandparents as Parents (GaP) Program of the Tallahassee Senior Foundation, funded by the Leon County Commission, grants, and donations, has a program and support group just for them!  According to Karen Boebinger, GaP Program Coordinator, “The GaP program provides moral support and resource assistance to these grandfamilies who are trying to navigate through their new lifestyle.”

AARP® has streamlined the gathering of relevant information pertinent to this nationwide dilemma.  The AARP® resource, Grand Families Fact Sheet, includes state-specific data and programs available, as well as information about public benefits, educational assistance, legal relationship options, and state laws.  This fact sheet also contains many other resource tools such as the National Council on Aging’s questionnaire that helps grandparent caregivers and/or the children they are raising determine if they qualify for certain programs that pay for food, an increase in income, and/or home and healthcare costs.  Once the questionnaire is completed, the website generates a list of eligible programs and contact information.  (

Take a moment today and every day to give thanks and appreciation for the thousands of grandparents in our community and around the country for the service they do for children.  One thing is for certain:  grandparents are more valuable to their grandchildren and communities than ever.  Grandparents are indispensable and important people.

Want more information about supporting GaP or do you need support yourself?  Contact Karen Boebinger, GaP Program Coordinator, at 850-891-4027 or



Author: Heidi Copeland –

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Leon County Florida Educational Program Focus: •Food, Nutrition and Wellness •Child Development and Parenting

Heidi Copeland

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Seven Tips for a Healthy School Lunch

Seven Tips for a Healthy School Lunch

Jazz up traditional peanut butter sandwiches with raisins or carrot straws.

Now that school is back in session, are your struggling to find healthy and safe lunches to pack?  Do you cringe with every peanut butter and jelly sandwich you make?  If you are like me, finding healthy lunch time meals that are packed with nutrition, offer some variety, and won’t end up in the trash requires planning, creativity, and lots of energy!

  1. Get children involved! Even young school-age children can help make their own lunch.  Give children healthy choices and let them decide lunch menus.  Children may be more willing to eat the food you pack if they have been involved in the process.
  2. Dunk it and dip it. Children love finger foods they can dip.  Serve raw vegetables with hummus or fresh fruit with yogurt.
  3. Offer some “fun foods.” Let children choose some low-calorie fun foods.  Healthy or low-calorie options for the sweet or crunchy tooth include pretzels, plain popcorn, mini rice cakes, low-fat pudding, a miniature chocolate bar, or a rice crispy treat.
  4. Jazz up boring favorites. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a nutritious favorite.  Liven them up with carrot straws or raisins.  Add color and nutrition to sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, or sliced vegetables.
  5. Keep lunches safe. Make sandwiches the night before and freeze them.  Freeze juice boxes or water bottles to keep foods cool and for a cool lunchtime beverage.  Experiment to be sure there is enough time before lunch for the items to thaw.
  6. Re-think leftovers. Even if children don’t have access to a microwave to reheat food from last night’s dinner, some leftovers work for lunch, too. Try cold pizza, meat sliced for a sandwich, or pasta salad.
  7. Skip the fuss and sign up for the National School Lunch Program. While some schools may offer free and reduced-price lunches to eligible families, the school lunch program is for everyone.  School lunches provide low cost, balanced meals that follow USDA dietary guidelines.  Take a break from packing lunch and check out your school’s lunch menu.

Turkey Rolls:
2 flour tortillas
2 tsp mayonnaise
2 slices thinly sliced deli turkey
½ cup shredded lettuce
2 Tbsp shredded cheese, any type

Lay out tortillas. Spread with mayonnaise. Layer turkey slice, lettuce and cheese onto tortillas. Roll up and wrap. Makes 2 servings.

One serving provides 218 calories, 9 g total fat, 20 g carbohydrate and 14 g protein.
Exchanges – 1 bread, 2 meats, 2 fats.

Recipe source:  Janis G. Hunter, HGIC Nutrition Specialist, and Katherine L. Cason, Professor, Department of Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences, Clemson University, New 08/08. Revised 09/11. Image added 8/15.  HGIC 4114



Author: Kendra Zamojski –

Kendra Zamojski is a Family and Consumer Sciences Agent III in the Northwest District.

Kendra Zamojski

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Spice Things Up with Alternative Seasonings

With today’s continued focus on healthy eating and the dangers of high blood pressure, seasoning and cooking with salt has decreased.  Alternative seasonings such as herbs and spices are excellent additions to any dish without the dreaded sodium.  Herbs and spices are easy to use and can add a variety of delicious flavor combinations to any family favorite.

The difference between an herb and a spice is the part of the plant used.  Herbs come from the leaves and soft stems of the plant.  Spices are taken from the roots, seeds, bark, fruit, or flowers of the plant.  Spices tend to have a stronger flavor than herbs, and are usually used in smaller quantities.

Besides being a healthy substitute for salt, herbs and spices can also replace added fat and sugar without contributing extra calories.  Instead of adding extra sugar to oatmeal, for example, try using cinnamon or allspice.

Add cumin or ground black pepper to more savory dishes instead of reaching for the salt shaker or butter.  Try seasoning meats with herbs and spices instead of coating them in breading or gravy.

Not all herbs and spices pair well with all types of foods.  Herbs and spices should be used to enhance and complement the flavor of food without taking it over completely.

A strong herb such as rosemary would completely overwhelm a mild-tasting food like peas or other vegetable.  Conversely, a mild herb such as parsley would be completely overwhelmed by a strong-tasting food such as lamb or beef.

Dried herbs can be used instead of fresh herbs in recipes, and vice versa.  Keep in mind the flavor of dried herbs is much more concentrated than that of fresh, so reduce the amount accordingly.

Use only a quarter to half as much dried as fresh.  Start with a smaller amount, and then add as needed to achieve the desired taste.

Look for herbs with a bright green color and little or no wilting when choosing fresh ones.  Avoid bunches showing signs of mold, slime, or pests.

Wash fresh herbs in clean, cool water to get rid of any sand.  Fresh herbs need to be stored in the refrigerator, in an unsealed plastic bag, to maintain optimal freshness.  They can last up to three weeks, though should be used within a week for the best flavor.

Dried herbs and spices, if stored correctly, do not spoil.  However, they will lose their flavor and aroma over time.

Ideally, flaked or ground herbs and spices should be replaced every six months for maximum flavor, but can remain viable for up to three years.  Whole spices such as cinnamon sticks and peppercorns can remain effective for up to five years.

Not all herbs and spices are created equal.  When using them in cooking, it is important to remember the more delicate herbs such as basil and chives should be added right before serving to preserve their flavor.

Less delicate herbs such as thyme and oregano can be added earlier in the cooking process since they retain their flavor better.  When creating herb blends, mix, match, and be creative.  Add them to a cheese shaker for easy access during meals.

To learn more, sign up for the Extension Cooking Class series which starts September 7, 2017 at the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Office at 84 Cedar Avenue in Crawfordville. Start time is 6:00 p.m. and the cost is $ 10.

For additional tips about cooking with herbs and spices, call Samantha at the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension office at (850) 926-3931.


Author: Samantha Kennedy, M.S. –

Samantha is the Family & Consumer Sciences agent in Wakulla County. She has worked for UF/IFAS Extension since 2004. She has a B.S. in both Microbiology & Cell Science and Nutritional Sciences and an M.S. in Agricultural Education, both from UF. Her areas of expertise are nutrition, health & wellness, chronic disease prevention, food safety, disaster preparedness, and financial literacy. You can reach her via email at or by calling (850) 926-3931.

Samantha Kennedy, M.S.

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Wet Socks

Wet Socks

What’s worse than wearing wet socks? Okay – wet, dirty socks. Or wet, dirty socks with holes. Ooh, ooh, the worst – cold, wet, dirty socks with holes.

If your feet are in clean, dry socks with no need of mending, think for a moment about those not so lucky.

Homeless shelters are continuously in need of new socks. If you’re homeless, you walk – a lot. Many homeless walk several miles every day for food, shelter, and other essentials. Getting the assistance you need is easier when your feet are healthy and don’t have blisters. People are often more motivated to seek employment and keep it when they feel confident in the way they look. Wearing socks and shoes with holes decreases their sense of self-worth. A clean set of socks is often the first step in restoring their feeling of dignity.

Wet socks breed bacteria, which can cause infection. And since more than a million Americans have diabetes, wearing cold, wet, holey, dirty socks puts them at greater risk of skin injuries and infections. According to WebMD, diabetics should never walk barefoot and should wear comfortable socks and shoes that fit well and protect the feet. For more foot care tips, see Tips on Good Foot Care.

If you like keeping things local, know that cotton is considered a power crop in the panhandle of Florida. It’s rotated in alternate years with peanuts to avoid pests, diseases, and weeds. Some socks are 100% cotton; many are a blend of cotton mixed with other fibers.

So, help the local economy in the Florida Panhandle and help someone by giving them socks. Buy new socks with cotton. Keep a pair for yourself and donate some to a homeless shelter near you. (Waterfront Mission is a great place to start – Waterfront Mission Donations.) You’ll feel better and so will they.



Author: Angela Hinkle –

Angela Hinkle is the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Agent in Escambia County.

Angela Hinkle

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Are YOUR Hands Clean?

It’s something we all hopefully learned as children and carry with us now into adulthood: washing our hands often and properly. But I’m sorry to say that we’ve probably all witnessed numerous instances of people leaving the restroom, coughing or sneezing, touching their cell phones or any number of other filthy surfaces, and then neglecting to wash their hands. According to a research study from Michigan State University (2013), only 5% of people washed their hands properly after using the toilet with 7% of men and 15% of women not washing their hands at all. This type of behavior is a recipe for disaster, leading to the spread of germs and pathogens.

Germs and pathogens are invisible and ubiquitous, living on every imaginable surface. Even though they can’t be seen by the naked eye they have the ability to make us very sick, and can even be deadly. According to Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist with the University of Arizona, a typical cell phone has approximately 25,000 germs per square inch! We spread germs very easily from surface to surface and from hand to mouth, increasing the potential for illness to ourselves and others every step of the way. If these germs contaminate food contact surfaces or the food we eat, the likelihood for a foodborne illness has been created. Common symptoms of foodborne illness include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal cramps. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

The good news is that we all have the power to stop the spread of germs. The Food and Drug Administration says that “washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others.”

It’s good practice to always wash your hands (CDC):

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

Are you following these steps to proper handwashing (CDC)?

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Soap and water may not always be available, so using hand sanitizer is the next best thing. Although hand sanitizers don’t kill all germs, the CDC recommends choosing a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to significantly reduce the number of germs and pathogens on your hands.

For more information on handwashing and hand sanitizers refer to the CDC Handwashing Factsheet. Additional information about foodborne illnesses and the pathogens that cause them can be found at


Author: amymullins –

Amy Mullins is a Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Leon County, with programs focused on food & nutrition, food safety, health & wellness, and chronic disease prevention. Amy is a Registered Dietitian and a graduate of The University of Florida and Florida State University.


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The After-school Snack Attack: Strategies for Busy Moms

With kids back in school, moms face a set of challenges that somehow seem new every year. One of those challenges is what to feed kiddos who race in the door hungry after a long day in the classroom. As a savvy mom, you know that snacks can help your kids meet their nutritional needs – as long as you pick the right ones. That’s where it can get a bit tricky because in addition to being healthful, the snacks need to be loaded with kid appeal plus be quick and easy to grab. Try some of the following ideas from the different food groups to create a snack that will give your kids calories (energy), meet their nutritional needs, and taste great as well!
• Banana Tortilla Treat – Grab a whole wheat tortilla, spread with peanut butter and sprinkle with low-fat granola. Put a peeled banana on top and roll the tortilla.
• Combo-licious – Top a scoop of cottage cheese with canned fruit. Choose peaches, pears, mango, pineapple or fruit cocktail.
• Wrap It – Spread fresh hummus on a whole wheat tortilla. Add thinly sliced carrots, zucchini, cucumber, or whatever veggie your kids prefer. Roll it up and go!
Feeling rushed in the afternoons? Plan ahead and create a healthy snack shelf at eye level in your pantry and in your refrigerator for kids to grab and go. You might try the following:
• String cheese and a small can of fruit.
• Fat free or 1% flavored milk (chocolate or strawberry)
• Pre-cut raw veggies (celery sticks, baby carrots, cucumber slices) in zipped baggies beside low-fat yogurt dip, cottage cheese or hummus.
• Snack-sized applesauce
• Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
• Flavored rice cakes with peanut butter to spread
• Microwave popcorn
• Whole-grain crackers on the shelf and sliced cheese in the ‘fridge

With just a little planning, you can avoid snack-time stress and help your kids learn healthy eating habits at the same time.

For more ideas, check out these snack tips for parents. 10 Choose My Plate Snack Tips



Author: Ginny Hinton –

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent with UF/IFAS. Focus areas include nutrition, food safety, injury prevention, and healthy families. Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from University of West Florida. Master’s degree in Public Health/Health Education from University of South Florida.

Ginny Hinton

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Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.

Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.

Will you be ready if disaster strikes?  Disasters, or devastating events-natural or human-generated, certainly can disrupt daily life. National Preparedness Month, held annually in September and sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a good reminder that we need to be ready to respond to emergencies.  Adversity can strike at any time.  There is no time like the present to prepare for emergencies.

How?  Focus on making a standing plan for family readiness!  A standing plan is one that you and your family have developed in the event of disasters. For most people, the prime goal is knowing that all family members are safe and as secure as possible against harm.

Need some help? has information to help you with that critical “what do we do in case of an emergency” conversation with children as well as seniors or any family member with special needs.  The website contains a wealth of information to get you started including downloadable checklists and other publications as well as printable posters.  Anyone can download the materials for free!

For instance, some disasters strike without warning.  Have you thought about supplies you would need the most? supports the use of checklists as a good way to help you make it through an immediate disaster period.

Are you a pet owner?  Ready.Gov has a unique brochure containing information for pet owners and suggestions for proactive pet emergency preparedness.  Have you ever considered evacuating in the car with your animals?

Additionally, inadequate insurance coverage on a family home or properties can lead to major financial losses.  NOW is the time to plan, document, and insure your property as well as prepare digital copies of your important financial information. One thing to keep in mind: FLOOD INSURANCE is a pre-disaster insurance protection program.  Flood damage is not usually covered by typical homeowners insurance.  Check your policy. Do not make assumptions.

Be smart; take part in preparing before an emergency happens!

  1. Implement a standing plan
  2. Prepare in ADVANCE
  3. Stay informed

You can plan ahead for an emergency. Take action now.



Author: Heidi Copeland –

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Leon County Florida Educational Program Focus: •Food, Nutrition and Wellness •Child Development and Parenting

Heidi Copeland

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