OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students will help educate parents about proper nutrition and lead children in fun activities designed to get them excited about healthy eating at the inaugural Oxford Family Nutrition Fair this weekend. Set for 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday (April 21) at the Oxford Park Commission Activity Center, the fair is led and planned by students in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management and the Community Nutrition class. The event is free and open to the public. Aimed primarily at educating families and preventing childhood obesity, the fair will focus on family nutrition education and will offer free, fun educational activities related to child nutrition and growth. Students will measure children and educate parents on how to monitor their child’s growth and development.
“This teamwork has really taught me about people in a community really working together to simply make the area they live a better place,” said Mary Lindsey Simpkins, a senior dietetics and nutrition major from Madison and director of philanthropy for the event. “I think the nutrition fair will be a fun, interactive way for families to come together and learn about healthier eating in Oxford. Hopefully, a lot of families will come out and participate.” Students enrolled in the Community Nutrition course are required to host a community initiative as part of the curriculum. Previous classes have conducted walks, runs and theme-focused educational activities that they were interested in, said Teresa Carithers, associate dean of the School of Applied Sciences. “This year we were contacted midway in the semester by an Excel by 5 board member who was making us aware that nutrition education had been identified as an area of significant interest in a needs assessment that had been previously conducted by the Oxford community,” Carithers said. “Based on that information, the class decided to change their activity to help meet a community-based need.” Most activities will be geared toward educating parents of children ages 5 and younger, but other activities will be available to engage and get the children excited about nutrition. “There will be interactive games for children, and other (students) will provide valuable information for parents about topics like growth and body mass index, growing a vegetable garden and nutrition for children,” Simpkins said. The Oxford Family Nutrition Fair is sponsored by the Community Nutrition class and the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management. It is being offered in conjunction with L-O-U Excel by 5, a program designed to improve a child’s well-being by the age of 5, and ChooseMyplate.gov. The event will also provide nonperishable foods to the Lovepack Organization, which benefits needy school-age children in the community. For more information on the Oxford Family Nutrition Fair contact the School of Applied Sciences at 662-915-7900.