UM Disaster Mental Health Expert Offers Advice for Hurricane Survivors

Department of Social Work offers tips to those affected by recent storms

UM students help collect nonperishable foods as part of a campus drive. Getting involved in volunteer activities or events that help others is an excellent way to deal with the stress from a major disaster, mental health experts advise. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – With 1,409 students from Texas and 513 from Florida enrolled this fall, the University of Mississippi is the home away from home for many residents of the two states that sustained the greatest impact from hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Many students’ and even some faculty members’ homes and property were damaged or destroyed while they watched the storm’s news coverage and waited to hear from their family members back home.

“(It was) probably the worst week in my life,” said adjunct legal studies professor George Ackerman, who was at his home in Del Ray Beach, Florida, when Hurricane Irma made landfall. “We are perfect today and everyone accounted for here, but it was very bad.

“Ninety degree temperatures in our home, and the baby and kids as well as pets were doing very bad. I slept on the floor, and we jumped staying from house to house as there were no hotels. Finally, we got one after four days. The hurricane itself was frightening to everyone, but we move forward.”

While managing loss of property is often top of mind after a natural disaster, managing the psychological effects of an event of this magnitude can be an even more critical part of storm recovery.

The psychological impact for individuals who are directly impacted by disaster – those who have lost property or a loved one, or who have been injured or dislocated – puts them at risk for developing long-term psychosocial conditions, said Daphne Cain, disaster mental health expert and chair of the UM Department of Social Work.

“Post-disaster reactions and behaviors may appear to be symptoms of psychological distress,” Cain said. However, many of these reactions are normal for people responding to traumatic situations.

“Studies show some common reactions include symptoms of shock, exhaustion, disorientation, irrationality, racing thoughts, fear and anxiety, or uncontrollable emotions,” said Cain, citing a 2013 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Cain offered five important tips for students affected by the storms:

– Talk about it. Connect with social support systems, including family, friends, teachers and residence hall advisers. Visit the Student Health CenterPsychological Services Center or the Counseling Center.

First-year biology major Maggie Coulter,of Houston, Texas, puts effort into staying connected with her family in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

“I call and check on my parents and grandmother every day,” said Coulter, whose family continues to work on repairing her grandmother’s home, which suffered substantial water damage from the storm.

– Take care and calm yourself. Avoid using alcohol, drugs and tobacco, and engage in healthy coping, including yoga, stretching, walking and deep breathing. Get the rest you need, drink plenty of water for hydration and eat healthy meals and snacks.

– Turn off social media, television and radio. Listening to and viewing coverage of the disaster can be traumatizing or re-traumatizing. Take a break from listening to and viewing coverage.

– Get back to your daily routines. Returning to your normal routine, including going to class, meeting deadlines, engaging with friends and with usual activities, are good ways to regain a sense of control and can help those affected feel less anxious.

– Get involved. You are not alone. Engage in positive activities such as discussion groups and volunteering activities that can help to create a sense of meaning and connectedness. Get involved in university-related volunteer opportunities.

The Department of Social Work’s mission is to prepare competent and ethical social workers, for scientific inquiry and practice, who are leaders committed to social and economic justice, diversity and the enrichment of the quality of life at every level of society. For more information about social work at Ole Miss, email

Autism Expert Headlines UM Conference

Annual Ole Miss Fall Institute provides continuing education and networking opportunities

Jessica Dykstra Steinbrenner

OXFORD, Miss. – Each year, one of every 68 children will be diagnosed with autism, according to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Identification and treatment of autism is vital, according to Lisa Ivy, a speech-language pathologist and clinical instructor in University of Mississippi Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Identifying the core features of Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, will be the first learning objective that autism expert and certified speech-language pathologist Jessica Dykstra Steinbrenner will discuss at the 16th annual Ole Miss Fall Institute, set for Sept. 14-15 at The Inn at Ole Miss

“Evidence-Based Practice in School-Based Settings for Children and Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum” is the topic for this year’s institute.

“We selected the topic of autism based upon participant requests from our 2016 conference,” Ivy said. “As children with autism are identified earlier, school-based speech-language pathologists and teachers need the most updated diagnostic and treatment resources available.” ​

The department and the campus chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association host the institute each year to offer an opportunity for speech-language pathologists to earn continuing education units and learn more about developments in their field. This student-planned event gives students a chance to develop professional and organizational leadership skills under the mentorship of Ivy and Brad Crowe, co-director of the UM Speech and Hearing Clinic and clinical instructor.

This year’s topic will benefit not only speech-language pathologists, but also classroom teachers, special education teachers, school administrators and parents, Ivy said.

Steinbrenner will discuss ASD across the school years and different learning styles of those with the disorder. She will present the latest information about assessments to diagnose and evaluate needs, choosing target goals, selecting strategies and interventions, and data-based decision making.

She also will address and provide evidence-based practice guides for communication, social skills, engagement and play. She plans to close with a discussion on general tips and strategies and on challenging behavior.

Steinbrenner is a research scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina. With research interests in school-based interventions for individuals with ASD, Steinbrenner is working for the Center on Secondary Education for Students with ASD to develop a comprehensive intervention program for high school students.

She has worked as a speech-language pathologist with elementary and middle school children with ASD and other developmental disabilities. She has publications in numerous professional journals, as well as two textbook chapters.

“As a nationally recognized scholar, Dr. Steinbrenner aligns well with the applied-science focus on the importance of having evidenced-based research direct clinical practice protocols,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of the UM School of Applied Sciences.

Online registration for the event is encouraged, as seating will be limited. The cost of the two-day event is $260 if paid before Sept. 13, and $275 for on-site registration. A link to the secure payment site is available at

In conjunction with the institute, the Ole Miss chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association will host a 5-K run benefitting the Sarah Wheat Voice Lab. The facility, used for evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with voice disorders, is named after Sarah Wheat, a gifted graduate student in communication sciences and disorders who died in 2012.

Registration is $25 for timed runners and $15 for non-timed runners or walkers. To register, visit

Anyone wanting to make donations in lieu of race participation can write a check payable to the Sarah Wheat Voice Laboratory Fund and mail to 100 George Hall; 325 Rebel Drive; University, MS 38677.

For more information about the Ole Miss Fall Institute, email





UM Family Fondly Remembers Lennette J. Ivy

Beloved administrator was model of dedicated service and benevolence

Lennette Johnson Ivy Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Lennette Johnson Ivy Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Members of the University of Mississippi community are fondly remembering Lennette Johnson Ivy, a beloved administrator and faculty member who died Oct. 21. She was 63.

Funeral services for the professor emerita and chair emerita of UM’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders were Oct. 27 at Second Baptist Church in Oxford. The Rev. Leroy Wadlington officiated, with burial at Union Hill Cemetery.

Gloria Kellum, vice chancellor emerita of university relations and professor emerita of communication sciences and disorders, described Ivy as “a loving, happy person” who always had a smile, a tear or a hug to share when most needed.

“She made a significant difference in my life and in the lives of so many us here today,” said Kellum, who spoke during the ceremony. “She was there for our students, guiding them, teaching them and mentoring them in their academic, clinical and professional education.

“Her calm, peaceful approach to life and living, her acceptance of all God’s children, her willingness to provide opportunities, guidance and encouragement to her undergraduate and graduate students were remarkable. Her legacy lives on in the lives of her students and graduates. “

Other UM administrators voiced similar reflections about their late colleague.

“Dr. Ivy will be remembered for her many wonderful qualities, including the calm way she conducted her work with others,” said Velmer Burton, dean of the School of Applied Sciences. ” She was genuinely loved by all.

“Her commitment to the university, (School of ) Applied Sciences and CSD provided an exemplary model of professionalism that leaves a tremendous positive impact for years to come. Our school sends thoughts and prayers to her family.”

Ivy joined the UM faculty in 1990 as a part-time clinical supervisor. During the course of her 26-year career, she served the CSD department as a clinical supervisor in speech pathology, acting assistant professor and assistant professor, associate professor and interim department chair.

Under Ivy’s leadership, enrollment in the department’s undergraduate and graduate programs grew significantly, with more than 56 graduate students and 400-plus undergraduates. The graduate program was reaccredited nationally in 2011 with master’s degree graduates in speech language pathology having a 100 percent employment rate.

The department saw significant increases in the number of full-time faculty, clinical supervisors and clinical services offered for speech, language and hearing impaired individuals in north Mississippi.

Ivy obtained a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation to establish a preschool laboratory and specialty clinic for hearing-, speech- and language-impaired children, as well as transition class for kindergarten children with speech, language and hearing disorders that interfere with literacy skills. She also established an in-house server and computer lab.

“We’re proud of where we’ve come and where we’re going,” Ivy once said, regarding the 50-year-old CSD department, which is consistently ranked in the Top 100 graduate programs in speech-language pathology. “Our department’s future is just as promising as its past.”

Brad Crowe, co-director of CSD’s Speech and Hearing Center, remembered Ivy’s dedication to the department.

“She was an ardent advocate for opportunity, and her persistence inspired people to succeed no matter the challenges set before them,” he said.

Ivy also worked as a speech-language pathologist in the Oxford School District, PRN speech-language pathologist at NovaCare (Heritage Manor) in Holly Springs and a graduate research assistant at the University of Memphis.

“Lennette leaves behind a legacy of love,” said Rebecca Lowe, clinical assistant professor and co-director of the clinic. “She will continue to live on through the lives of all those she touched.”

A native of Booneville, Ivy earned her doctorate in audiology and speech pathology from the University of Memphis, a master’s degree in communicative disorders from UM and a bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders from Mississippi Valley State University.

Formerly a certified teacher in Mississippi, she also was a licensed speech-language pathologist, held an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Certificate of Clinical Competence in speech-language pathology and was an awarded dyslexia screening consultant.

A 2014 recipient of the Mississippi Speech, Language, Hearing Association Honors of the Association Award, Ivy held three ASHA Awards for continuing education, a travel support for the 2001 University of Wisconsin at Madison Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders and a travel fellowship to ASHA’s 11th annual research symposium on “NIDCD-Sponsored Institute: Genetic Paradigms for the New Millennium.”

A respected clinician and teacher in her field, Ivy was the principal investigator on at least seven state- and federally-funded projects totaling more than $418,818 and made presentations at more than 26 professional conferences and symposiums. She also co-authored at least six peer-reviewed journal articles and two book chapters.

Ivy is survived by her husband, James L. Ivy Jr.; a daughter, Michelle Cowan-Haggard; four sons, Courtney Ivy, James L. Ivy III, Moraye Ivy and Christopher Ivy; four sisters, Mildred Dilworth, Laura Jernigan, Lillian Johnson and Linda Blissett; two brothers, William Dilworth and Frank Dilworth; and 10 grandchildren.

Donations may be made to the Dr. Lennette Ivy Memorial Scholarship Fund at Second Baptist Church, 611 Jackson Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or at University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655.

UM-DeSoto Student Wins Highest Award from Legal Studies Department

McKinley McCarty recognized for academics, service

McKinley McCarty

McKinley McCarty

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – Though emailing in class is generally frowned upon, McKinley McCarty hoped for an exception when she learned that she had won the Columbus B. Hopper Scholarship.

“I just couldn’t sit there and contain my excitement,” said McCarty, a senior paralegal studies major at the University of Mississippi at DeSoto Center-Southaven. “As soon as I received an email about the award from the chair, I had to send one back. I copied my professor, so he knew that I sent it during class.”

The Hopper Scholarship is the Department of Legal Studies’ highest honor. Recipients are full-time legal studies majors who are classified as seniors and have obtained at least a 3.75 GPA. The $1,250 scholarship honors Columbus Burwell Hopper, professor emeritus of sociology, who died in 2015.

An Iuka native, McCarty is a full-time student and full-time employee.

“I am definitely a nontraditional student,” she said. “I am 28 – I did not start college until seven years after graduating high school. I entered the workforce and soon realized that I needed to do something else with my life. I wanted to advance my options and my knowledge.”

Before pursuing a degree in legal studies, McCarty worked for a small law firm in downtown Memphis, assisting attorneys with domestic law matters, bankruptcies, foreclosures and third-party collections.

She continued to work for the firm while attending Northwest Mississippi Community College. She received her paralegal studies associate degree in 2014 and enrolled at UM-DeSoto that fall. She then began working for Olive Branch’s city attorney.

“I have held a 9-to-5 job for all five years I’ve been in school,” McCarty said. “I attend night classes. This is my sixth year of being in the legal field and fifth year of education in the legal field. I believe that my work experience has served as an advantage during my studies.”

Not only does McCarty excel in her studies, but also she is passionate about service and honor societies. She made it a point to take advantage of any opportunities that came her way, taking part in Gamma Beta Phi, Phi Theta Kappa, Lambda Epsilon Chi and, most recently, Phi Kappa Phi.

“I was afraid of not having a ‘traditional’ college experience,” she said. “I quickly learned that there are so many opportunities to get involved at UM-DeSoto and the main campus as well. Through Gamma Beta Phi, I drove down to Oxford in early April to participate in their largest service event. I really have enjoyed opportunities like those.”

Faculty and staff at the UM regional campus are like family, McCarty said.

“Everyone is so close here,” she said. “The staff have pointed me in the right direction. They’ve helped guide me to make better choices. Pat Coats (UM-DeSoto coordinator of academic support services) has been so influential. She wants you to get the most out of this experience that you possibly can.”

McCarty is thankful for support from Robert Mongue, associate professor of legal studies, who nominated her for the award.

“I’ve had Professor Mongue throughout the two years that I’ve been at Ole Miss,” she said. “He isn’t afraid to put me on the spot – I even taught one of our recent classes. Dr. Mongue didn’t get to where he is today by just scraping by. That rubbed off on me and I now expect more for myself.”

Mongue said he was impressed with McCarty’s dedication to her studies.

“McKinley has obtained a high GPA while taking classes, sometimes alone, through compressed video from our Southaven campus,” he said. “She maintained the focus necessary to obtain good grades and engage in class participation while staring at a monitor and buzzing into the discussion via the desk microphones.”

When thinking about what the award means to her, McCarty said it is hard to put her feelings into words.

“I don’t take anything for granted, no matter how small or how big,” she said. “Out of all the students who qualified and were eligible for this award, I’m not sure what made me stand out.

“The only thing I can compare it to is when you find out something so joyous and you feel unworthy, you cry. That was my first reaction. It was a moment where I realized that everything that I’d been doing and struggling for is paying off.”

After graduation, McCarty said she plans to take a year to pursue personal goals and then continue her studies, possibly by attending law school.

Housed in the DeSoto Center in Southaven, the regional campus offers undergraduate (junior and senior) and graduate programs for traditional and nontraditional students. For more information, visit or call 662-342-4765.

Food Service Management Institute Renamed Institute of Child Nutrition

UM center remains focused on providing resources and training to school lunch workers and managers

The new logo for the Institute of Child Nutrition.

The new logo for the Institute of Child Nutrition.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s National Food Service Management Institute has changed its name and logo to the Institute of Child Nutrition, reflecting its mission to serve child nutrition programs across the country.

As a part of the UM School of Applied Sciences, ICN is the only federally funded national center dedicated to child nutrition. For more than 25 years, the institute has been the leading child nutrition center in the United States, providing resources, training and research. During that time, the institute has experienced tremendous growth in the amount of resources and services provided.

Inspired by this growth, the institute’s administrators searched for a new name that would reflect its image of professionalism and service in the field of child nutrition.

“The school is very proud of all that the institute has accomplished,” said Velmer Burton, dean of the School of Applied Sciences. “With this new name and logo, the Institute of Child Nutrition will continue to improve the lives and conditions of children all across the United States.”

Aleisha Hall-Campbell, who previously was the associate director of cooperative agreements for the National Food Service Management Institute, is the institute’s acting executive director.

“Dr. Hall-Campbell received strong recommendations from many constituents to provide leadership during this interim period,” Burton said. “We trust she will be the perfect leader during this transition.”

A search for a permanent executive director will be launched once ICN completes its name change and rebranding.

“I’m completely honored by my new position at ICN,” Hall-Campbell said. “We have a lot to look forward to in the future, and I have a wonderful team to help continue our success.”

The institute’s staff looks forward to ongoing success and growth as ICN remains dedicated to serving child nutrition professionals, she said.

For more information and resources about the Institute of Child Nutrition, visit

Texas Parents Support Nutrition and Hospitality Management Program

Strong Travel Services Endowment created for UM department's long-term needs

Jim and Kay Strong

Jim and Kay Strong

OXFORD, Miss. – A $25,000 gift to the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management at the University of Mississippi will provide longtime support for facility upgrades, thanks to Jim and Kay Strong of Dallas.

The couple has created an endowment named for their family business, Strong Travel Services. A respected leader in the luxury travel industry, Strong Travel Services was established in 1975 as a corporate-based travel agency. The agency’s market focus shifted to the vacation traveler in the mid-1990s, and more than 40 staff members serve clients.

Jim and Kay Strong’s relationship with UM began in 2011 when their son, James, joined the UM student body and enrolled in the hospitality management program. James is on track to graduate in May.

“We were drawn to Ole Miss because of the graciousness and friendliness of both the campus and the people,” Jim Strong said. “And since the hospitality management program focuses on service, we felt it was natural for the Strong Travel Agency to create this connection.”

Students in the hospitality management program actively study many areas of the industry, such as travel, food service and lodging. Students also gain hands-on experience at Lenoir Dining, an education restaurant serving the public and operating within the department. Funds in the Strong Travel Services Endowment will be held permanently and invested, with annual income designated for use in the department’s renovations, upgrades and acquisitions in classrooms, labs and Lenoir Dining.

“We really value the wonderful support Jim and Kay Strong have given to our program,” said Mary Roseman, associate professor and director of the hospitality management program. “They often visit campus, and Jim devotes his time talking to many of our classes and providing insight on industry issues. Students appreciate the outstanding information on the service industry that Jim provides.”

Jim Strong remarked that the relationship between Strong Travel Services and the department was natural, as both are dedicated to service.

“We wanted to do something that supported this program, and we hope this endowment can grow over time with the help of Ole Miss and other people in the travel industry,” he said.

Individuals and organizations interested in contributing to the endowment can send checks with the endowment noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38677. For more information, contact Michael Upton, development director, at 662-915-3027 or

Eighth Annual Applied Sciences Career Fair Set

Feb. 25 event brings a number of career opportunities to students

The Career Fair is a great way for students to network with working professionals and gain information about future employment options.

The career fair is a great way for students to network with professionals and gain information about employment options.

OXFORD, Miss. – Most than 30 potential employers are set to be on hand for the University of Mississippi’s School of Applied Sciences  annual career fair, coming up Feb. 25 at the Inn at Ole Miss.

“This is the most vendors we’ve had since the first fair in 2008,” said Teri Gray, coordinator of the Applied Sciences Career Fair, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Career vendors will be available to meet and advise students from departments such as Legal Studies; Social Work; Communication Sciences and Disorders; Nutrition and Hospitality Management; and Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management. This year’s vendors include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mississippi State Department of Health, St. Joe Club and Resorts, and Oxford Health and Rehab.

“The more vendors we have encourages student involvement,” Gray said. “In the past, we’ve had over 500 students attend the fair. We’re expecting a similar turnout for 2015.”

After the event, a networking reception begins at 4 p.m. Students are welcome at the reception, which will include the presentations of the Thomas Crowe Alumnus of the Year award and the Linda Chitwood Student Merit award.

The event not only offers career opportunities, but allows employers to meet talented students completing their degrees, said Velmer Burton, dean of the School of Applied Sciences.

“The hard work of our school’s faculty is evidenced by our highly-skilled students,” Burton says. “And this event has become a platform to showcase our students.”

For more information about the Applied Sciences Career Fair, contact Teri Gray at or 662-915-7901.

Nutrition Clinic Begins Weight Management Classes in January

Classes open to the public and include weekly group meetings, cooking demos and one-on-one consults

Janie Cole gives a tour of a local grocery store.

Janie Cole gives a tour of a local grocery store.

OXFORD, Miss. – Janie Cole, registered dietitian and adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management at the University of Mississippi, leads a group of six through an Oxford grocery store.

She hands out a “Grocery Store Shopping guide that provides tips such as “Plan ahead and make a list” and “Don’t be on your phone while shopping. It gets you off task.” Cole tells the group to examine and compare nutrition facts for deli meats, bread, cereal and bacon.

In one of the aisles, Cole says, “Pay attention to calories, sodium content and saturated fat.”

The grocery store tour is a part of the weight management program organized by UM’s Nutrition Clinic, which is devoted to helping the community with weight loss, eating disorders and other nutrition issues. The program offers weekly group meetings, food record analysis, cooking demonstrations, tastings and one-on-one consults.

“Walking through the store and comparing labels helps the participants make healthy choices,” Cole said, regarding the grocery store tour. “Oftentimes, they are pleasantly surprised by what is considered a healthy choice.”

The program started in 2011 after the clinic got requests to begin a weight management class. But people take the class for reasons beside weight loss, Cole said.

“They want to eat better, improve their overall health and basically have a healthier lifestyle in general,” she said.

And the classes are improving lifestyles. The program has consistent success in lowering weight, blood sugar and cholesterol, and improving energy levels.

“This class is different from others available in that we teach you how to eat healthy without eliminating your favorite foods,” Cole said. “It’s so simple, but it works.”

The weight management classes begin Jan. 21 at Lenoir Hall and are open to the public. The fee for the 12-week course is $150. Participants can register for the classes by calling the UM Nutrition Clinic at 662-915-8662 or by emailing

UM Grant Puts Gardens in Oxford Schools

Della Davidson Elementary School celebrates grand opening of newest plot in cooperative effort

Della Davidson Elementary School student Molly Cat Tannehill, center, cuts the ribbon on the new student garden with students Stella Wilkins, Wes Carwile, Julia Dennis, Patrick Murphy and Walker Repka. Tannehill won the contest to name the garden "Food for Thought." She is joined by Good Food for Oxford Schools program director Sunny Young, projects coordinator Lauren Williams, Food Corps service member Mallory Stefan, Good Food voluteer Katelynn Dillard and Kathy Knight, associate professor in the Nutrition and Hospitality Management Department at the University of Mississippi.

Della Davidson Elementary School student Molly Cat Tannehill, center, cuts the ribbon on the new student garden with students, from left, Stella Wilkins, Wes Carwile, Julia Dennis, Patrick Murphy and Walker Repka. Tannehill won a contest to name the garden ‘Food for Thought.’ She is joined by Good Food for Oxford Schools program director Sunny Young, projects coordinator Lauren Williams, Food Corps service member Mallory Stefan, Good Food voluteer Katelynn Dillard and Kathy Knight, associate professor in the UM Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management.

OXFORD, Miss. – Students and teachers at Della Davidson Elementary School celebrated the grand opening of their new school garden Wednesday (Oct. 1) afternoon.

The garden began in March with financing from the University of Mississippi Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management through a W.K. Kellogg grant as part of the “Eating Good … and Moving Like We Should” program. Over the last six years, the $275,000 grant has placed gardens in 15 schools across the Mississippi Delta and north Mississippi region.

The program started in 2008 as a way to battle the statewide problem of childhood obesity, which has dropped from 43 percent to 41 percent, said Kathy Knight, UM associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management.

However, that number is still too high, said Knight, noting that the gardens and nutrition education classes give students information about healthy options.

“School gardens make a difference,” she said. “They provide physical activity and help students learn to respect the environment, hopefully inspiring a healthy future.”

Two of those gardens are in the Oxford School District as a result of the collaboration between the university and the Good Food for Oxford Schools program. Blueberries, raspberries, figs, spinach, spicy mustard, stevia and green onions are just a few of the foods growing in the garden at Della Davidson.

“Good Food for Oxford Schools works in the cafeteria, classroom and community,” program coordinator Sunny Young said. “The kids get to experience the whole process in an effort to get them to eat better.”

Third- and fourth-grade students at Della Davidson created the lush garden themselves. Fourth-grade teacher Laurie Beth Ellis said her students have planted and maintained the garden since it began.

Ellis uses the garden to teach the history of agriculture, the science of gardening and vocabulary words associated with the process. Students harvested the garden in May and were excited to taste what they grew, she said.

“Without the university grant, we would literally still have grass here,” Ellis said. “The kids did an amazing job learning about the garden and actually getting their hands dirty to get everything done. Without these kids’ good attitudes and hard work, nothing would have been accomplished.”

UM Nutrition Expert Shares Healthy Snack Tips for Children

Good nutrition principles are fundamental for proper diet

Dr. Laurel Lambert, child nutrition expert, says all snacks should follow "basic nutrition principles.”

Laurel Lambert, child nutrition expert, explains how all snacks should follow ‘basic nutrition principles.’

OXFORD, Miss. – Combating the state’s obesity epidemic starts with teaching our children the principles of healthy eating, which is the focus of Laurel Lambert, associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management at the University of Mississippi.

While Lambert’s past experiences as a registered dietitian include medical nutrition therapy and institutional food services, her research focus is child nutrition.

“To get children excited about nutrition and meals is very rewarding,” Lambert said. “For example, a director of child nutrition in schools has an impact on students’ health from the time they enter the school until they leave.”

Along with school meals, schools also often prepare afternoon snacks. Healthy snacks can be prepared and consumed both in and out of school with a little nutrition know-how.

“Snacks are a great choice because children have little stomachs,” Lambert said. “We don’t want them to eat until they’re stuffed. In the past, I’ve worked with child nutrition development researchers, and they found that by age 5, children can lose the skill to identify when they’ve eaten too much, so snacks can teach basic feeding principles.

“You want to develop healthy snacks based on good nutrition principles. The goal is to learn the principles of nutrition and apply them to snacks. These are good starters, not a definitive list, but a list that can guide parents and children to make healthy choices.”

Healthy Homemade Snacks for Children

(Examples taken from the USDA’s Choose My Plate initiative)

  1. Trail Mix (dried fruit, unsalted nuts and popcorn): “Dried fruit is high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. For unsalted nuts, I prefer almonds, but cashews and pistachios are also good sources of nutrients. Popcorn is important because it can be prepared as a low-fat food, which decreases the overall calories of the snack. Plus, popcorn provides bulk and makes it more filling.”
  2. Veggie Sticks with Hummus: “Made from chick peas, hummus has become popular as a spread for different vegetables. It goes well with celery or carrots. It can even be placed on whole-grain crackers and pita bread.”
  3. Fruit Kabobs: “Fruit kabobs are prepared using a variety of fruit – bananas, apples, watermelon, cantaloupe or grapes, to name a few. I suggest having your child help with preparation. Your child can begin to learn knife skills, decide on the types of fruit to use and the order the fruit appears on the stick, therefore becoming involved with the food he or she eats.”
  4. Apple Wedge with Turkey: “Child nutrition programs often make snacks interesting by combining foods. You’re not just giving a child an apple; you’re giving him or her an apple wedge with a good source of protein, such as turkey. Luckily, fresh turkey is low-sodium by nature. It’s also important to notice that this is an apple wedge. We’re serving children, and it may be difficult to bite and chew on a whole apple. They need something easy to handle for their snack.”
  5. Peanut Butter Fruit-wich (whole-grain bread, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, thinly sliced apple or banana): “If you have the chance to choose whole-grain over wheat, go for it. Whole-grain means the child is getting the complete grain, including the germ and the bran for extra fiber, vitamins and minerals. Only 2 tablespoons of peanut butter because portion control is important.”
  6. Ants on a Log (thinly spread peanut butter on celery sticks, topped with a row of raisins): “Ants on a log is always popular. Children enjoy it because of its name and the way it looks, and they have a fun time preparing it, too.”

“All of these snacks follow basic nutrition principles,” Lambert said. “They contain vitamins, minerals, high fiber, low sodium and low saturated fat.”

Parents should consider serving healthy beverages to their children, including water and 100-percent juice, she said. “Juice should never replace water because of the calories. However, a 1/2-cup of juice for breakfast or with a snack is a good choice.”

Finally, it is important to follow a snack schedule when feeding your child, Lambert said.

“After children come home from school, they are probably hungry,” she explained. “Having a snack prepared is a good choice. The easier you make it, the more likely the child is going to eat it.”