IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS Extension offers way to avoid post-holiday shopping ‘sticker shock’

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances

January 2007 calendar, During the excitement of the holiday season, many people overspend. Bring this and other debt uder control often seems like a daunting task. IFAS Extension family economics programs are helping people regain control of their finances by providing money management tips for reducing debt. UF/IFAS Photo by: Thomas Wright.

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You want to buy those perfect gifts for your loved ones, but you want to avoid experiencing the post-holiday sticker shock when you get your credit card bills. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension faculty offer words of wisdom.

Michael Gutter, an associate dean of UF/IFAS Extension and a family financial expert, gives several tips to avoid holiday shopping pitfalls:

  • Make a list, and set a budget. Ask yourself: How much can you afford to spend? Prioritize gifts and sometimes even people. For example, consider spending more on your immediate family than on your extended family.
  • Consider a family giving circle. Buy for your own kids, then draw a name of someone from your extended family. Instead of getting gifts for all nieces, nephews, you might just buy one or two gifts.As an aside, Gutter said: “My family and I are focusing on what gifts contribute to shared experiences, for my son and I, it is some scuba equipment because it is something we do together. In this way, it is not just a gift — something one person benefits from — but it is instead something that contributes to family experiences.”
  • If your friends have children of varying ages, consider toy swaps instead of buying toys, more like passing them down, and the one receiving it still has a new toy.
  • Avoid giving gifts with many follow-up or add-on expenses, unless you have discussed it with the parents. It can be frustrating to get something that is only really fun if you have the other accompanying items.
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    UF/IFAS Extension program has five tips for fresh, healthy holiday eating

    Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS, Nutrition

    A table of fresh fruit and produce at a farmer's market.

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Want to eat healthy and save money this holiday season? Including fresh, seasonal produce in your family meals and party platters may be a good place to start.

    “Fruits and vegetables that are in season tend to be less expensive, making them a smart choice for families on a budget. Try visiting your local farmers market or the supermarket produce section to find low-cost inspiration for your holiday appetizers, snacks, meals and desserts,” said Amber Ward, Sarasota County program coordinator for the Family Nutrition Program (FNP). The program offers free nutrition education to SNAP-eligible participants in 43 Florida counties through the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

    “FNP equips individuals and families on a limited budget with the skills to make healthful food choices, aiming to promote healthy weight maintenance, decrease chronic disease, and optimize quality of life,” Ward explained.

    “Parents aren’t the only ones who can learn to savor fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Ward.

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    ‘Dine In’ with family, friends and co-workers on Dec. 3

    Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition

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    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Between work, school and afterschool activities, finding time for a homemade meal can be a challenge for many families. But mealtime is more than just a chance to hear about one another’s day. According to University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences experts, sharing food around the dinner table also helps us feel more connected, make healthier choices and save money along the way.

    UF/IFAS Extension is encouraging families, friends and coworkers to experience the benefits of “dining in” by share a meal together on Dec. 3 for National Dine In Day, an initiative started three years ago by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS).

    “Family and consumer sciences is all about helping people live more healthful lives through the relationships we nurture, the food we eat, and the money we spend and save,” said Michael Gutter, associate dean for UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H youth development, families and communities program leader. “The family meal is at the center of all of these choices.”

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    Sticking to a budget; avoiding credit card crises in college

    Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS

    January 2007 calendar, During the excitement of the holiday season, many people overspend. Bring this and other debt uder control often seems like a daunting task. IFAS Extension family economics programs are helping people regain control of their finances by providing money management tips for reducing debt. UF/IFAS Photo by: Thomas Wright.

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You’re heading to college for the first time or returning to campus, and you decide with your parents to get a credit card in your name. A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences financial expert says you can use credit wisely by sticking to a few key points.

    The two biggest mistakes college students make with credit cards are taking on too much debt and failing to make payments even if your credit card bill comes with a low amount due, said Michael Gutter, associate professor of family financial planning and associate dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

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    UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program faculty, staff help during holidays

    Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS

    Displays of fresh vegetables and produce. Photo taken 10-01-15.

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In keeping with the yuletide spirit of giving, faculty, staff and interns with the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program are helping others this month, including adopting a family and collecting and distributing hygiene items.

    Here are a few examples of how FNP personnel are assisting others this holiday season:

     

    • UF/IFAS Extension Leon County Director Kendra Zamojski said her office is adopting a family for Christmas. Faculty and staff will purchase food and gifts for a family in need. Contact: hughson@ufl.edu; work: 850-606-5201.

     

    • On Christmas Eve morning, intern Brianna Posadas will work with the Santa Paula Rotary Club, distributing Christmas presents and food to deserving families in Santa Paula, California. Contact: Brianna Posadas, M.S. candidate and a research assistant on the FNP Evaluation Team. bposadas@ufl.edu; cell: 951-387-0022.
    • FNP Program Assistant JoLynn Peoples and her family volunteer every year at an event called “A Night of Blessing,” a Christmas party for homeless families in Santa Rosa County. This year, the event is on Dec. 18 at a local school. They provide a Christmas dinner, gifts, coats and blankets for the children. It is hosted by a local church, but was started by a small group of people. Contact: jolynnp@santarosa.fl.gov; 850-485-0039.
    • Ashley Avant, an FNP program assistant for UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County, said she will collect family-sized personal hygiene items to give to the Community Hope Center in Kissimmee, Florida. “In Osceola County, we have a large number of our students and parents living in hotels throughout the county. The Community Hope Center provides these families with resources that they need,” Avant said. Avant and company will collect supplies at the Osceola County Fair office in Kissimmee through Dec 18. Contact:  aavant@ufl.edu; cell: 407-456-4620.

    FNP faculty and staff typically teach participants who qualify for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, how to eat healthy on a budget. As a major part of the education, participants are encouraged to increase their consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fat-free or low-fat dairy foods.

    FNP is the SNAP-Ed (the nutrition education component of SNAP) in Florida.

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    Sources: Multiple, see above

    UF/IFAS researchers seek ways to keep pathogens, pests from traveling with grain

    Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Finances, Food Safety, IFAS, Pests, Research

    Beef cattle grazing in front of a grain silo at the Range Cattle REC in Ona, Florida.

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member says new research can help grain handlers and grain inspectors find key locations for pathogens and pests along rail routes in the United States and Australia.

    In a new analysis in the journal BioScience, UF/IFAS researchers evaluated how wheat moved along rail networks in the United States and Australia. Through their analysis, researchers identified U.S. states that are particularly important for sampling and managing insect and fungal problems as they move through the networks, said Karen Garrett, a UF/IFAS plant pathology professor and senior author of the study.

    “The movement of pests and pathogens can be especially important when there are quarantines against the movement of particular species, or when pesticide-resistant insects invade new areas and make management more difficult,” said Garrett, who began work earlier this year in the UF/IFAS Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS).

    “This innovative research to understand how effectively the world’s food networks function and how they can be improved addresses one of our core missions for ISFS,” said Jim Anderson, professor of food and resource economics at UF/IFAS, director of the ISFS. “This work can have real impact.”

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    Florida’s agriculture-related employment up 8.7 percent

    Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS, Research

    Sculptor Steven Siegel, right, and University of Florida art students add plant matter to "Pod," an 18-foot-long sculpture composed of living plants and landscaping debris in the courtyard of UF's Fine Arts Complex. Siegel, internationally known for works composed of post-consumer waste, decided to use plant materials for this sculpture on the advice of a researcher with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (UF/IFAS photo by Thomas Wright)

    Please see caption below

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — About 1.52 million people worked full- or part-time in Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and food industries in 2013, an 8.7 percent increase in jobs over 2012, according to a new UF/IFAS economic report.

    That figure accounts for 14.3 percent of the state’s workforce, and reflects a 19.7 percent employment increase since 2001, or just under 1 percent annually, according to the report, led by UF/IFAS Extension Scientist Alan Hodges.

    “That’s pretty good economic growth in anybody’s book,” said Hodges, a faculty member in food and resource economics.

    Agriculture, natural resources and their related industries in the state account for $148.5 billion in sales revenue, the report said. Regional multiplier effects add 633,942 jobs and $83.64 billion to agriculture’s impact on Florida’s economy.

    “It’s new money from outside sources that’s circulating in Florida’s economy,” Hodges said. The value-added impacts represent 15.4 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product.

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    UF Field and Fork Pantry dedicated; facility will feed campus community members in need

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    Field to Fork Pantry grand opening ceremony on September 1st, 2015.

    Click on image for high-res version. Photo cutline below.

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Vowing that hunger should never be a barrier to education, University of Florida officials dedicated the campus’ newest enterprise addressing hunger within the UF community, the Field and Fork Pantry, with a ceremony Sept. 1 that was light-hearted and celebratory yet charged with a sense of urgency and purpose.

    “It doesn’t get any better than this, this is a special morning,” President Kent Fuchs said as he addressed the audience of about 150 gathered under a large tent next to the food pantry, located by the Food Science and Human Nutrition building on the central UF campus. “With (the organizers’ shared desire to help the needy) and with your remarkable spirit of optimism and action, I feel that there’s no limit to what we can create together for our campus, our community, our country and, indeed, actually, for the planet.”

    The 40-minute event occurred almost four months to the day after the facility’s groundbreaking May 5, and followed a year-long effort by several campus units to establish a campuswide food pantry for students and employees, Fuchs said.

    The president credited the project’s success to enthusiastic cooperation among participants that included the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Dean of Students Office, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, UF Student Government, the College of Engineering, the Office for Student Financial Affairs, Gator Dining Services and Aramark, the UF International Center, members of the University-Wide Pantry Planning Committee, and members of the food pantry’s parent organization, the Field and Fork Campus Food Program. The Bread of the Mighty Food Bank was a significant community partner as well, Fuchs noted.

    Next to speak was Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and the top administrator for UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or UF/IFAS, which provides programmatic and financial support for the project. Payne related how he’d become aware two years ago that food pantries had been established at other universities, and was spurred to request an exploratory survey on hunger at UF. Researchers found that of 1,800 students responding, 10 percent said they had gone hungry at least once during the previous academic year.

    Moved by this revelation, Payne began considering how UF/IFAS could help; he then contacted several key campus units and learned that similar plans were being contemplated or developed by other top administrators. Recognizing their common purpose, everyone agreed to collaborate.

    Before concluding his remarks, Payne provided a pleasant surprise, an informal announcement that Alan and Cathy Hitchcock, former owners of the Hitchcock’s supermarket chain, had pledged a leadership gift to help support the $290,000 second phase of construction for the food pantry. The food pantry currently occupies a 900-square-foot building that cost $172,000 to renovate and prepare for use; adjacent space for build-out is available. The Hitchcocks will also provide organizers with valuable advice on supermarket design, to help with expansions.

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    UF/IFAS expert wins lifetime achievement award for his international work for nonprofits

    Topic(s): Announcements, Families and Consumers, Finances, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

    Muthusami Kumaran.  Family, Youth, and Community Sciences.

    Muthusami Kumaran

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Since 2012, for three summers, UF/IFAS students have travelled to India with Family, Youth and Community Sciences nonprofit management faculty member Muthusami Kumaran to learn about Non-Governmental Organizations (nonprofits) and development.

    While there, Kumaran also lends his expertise on strategic planning, fundraising and best management practices to local NGOs.

    This year brought an added bonus: Kumaran won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sethu Valliammal Educational Trust and the Soka Ikeda College of Arts and Science for Women, for his years of work with nonprofit organizations and NGOs worldwide. The trust, a major NGO itself, operates schools, colleges and vocational training institutions with a focus on providing educational opportunities to underserved students.

    “It’s amazingly humbling,” Kumaran said of the award. “I truly consider it an honor to serve NGOs.”

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