Olinda Hirsch is the US Nutrition Education Program Coordinator for Sacramento. She has been at the UC Cooperative Extension and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) for nine years. EFNEP is a federally funded program and California EFNEP operates in 24 of California’s 58 counties. Through this program, Hirsch helps provide basic nutrition education by offering nutrition classes to low income children and parents to help them acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes and changing behavior needed to choose nutritionally sound diets. Those classes are held in local schools and community agencies throughout Sacramento. There is also a Youth EFNEP Program. For more information on the Youth Program, email caefnep@ucanr.edu or call (530) 750-1308.
Olinda R. Hirsch
Nutrition Education Program Coordinator
University of California Cooperative Extension
Sacramento County
4145 Branch Center Road
Sacramento CA. 95827
(916) 875-6528

Based in the University of California Cooperative Extension in Sacramento County, Hirsch has her work cut out for her. Besides working to educate children and parents with nutrition classes, she also helps train agency staff and teacher/para educators on basic nutrition. The goal of her office is to help adults and their families establish and maintain healthy eating habits and physically active lifestyles.

Having gone through the EFNEP program, 85 percent of adult participants improved their food budgeting, 90 percent improved their nutrition, and 70 percent improved in food safety. These benefits influence the behavior of all adults and children in the household. Participants of this program save an average of $9 per person a month on groceries. If you would like more information on the nutrition classes they have, or training for educators, contact her at the number above. Here are five healthy tips from Hirsch on helping with your picky eaters.

Involve The Child

Start having your child involved in the planning, selecting and preparing of the meal. They can add ingredients, wash vegetables and fruits, stir, watch the timer and lick the bowl. Don’t forget to make it fun. Children will often eat what they have helped prepare.

Enjoy Eating Together

Enjoy the company of each other while eating family meals together, when you can go over the events of the day. This is a time for the family to bond, while you teach them healthy eating habits and the importance of the family eating together.

Be A Good Role Model

Offer the same foods to the children as you offer to the adults. When they see the adults are eating it, they are more inclined to follow suit. Children learn by observing the adults around them.

Related: Top Kids Cooking and Baking Classes in Sacramento

Create Healthy Behaviors

Don’t use food as a reward or a punishment. It can create unhealthy behaviours. Instead, make sure meals are a time to look forward to.

Give Them Time

Sometimes a new food takes time to be accepted. Children do not always take to a new food right away. It may take more than a dozen tries before a child will accept the new food. Don’t force them, give them time, and remember what it was like when you did not like a food at their age.

Related: Healthy Food for Kids Over Holiday Break

Deb Ling is a freelance writer covering all things Sacramento. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.