University of Florida

Media Alert: December 3 is Dine In Day

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

Cutting vegetables and food preparation.

UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones

Who:    Florida residents are encouraged to prepare and eat a nutritious meal in the company of family, friends or coworkers in honor of Dine In Day, a national program facilitated by family and consumer science agents with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. Family and consumer sciences agents work throughout the state to deliver programs on nutrition, health and wellness, and money management to Floridians.

What:    Though most people know that family meals are important, finding time to sit down and share a meal together can be a challenge. Dine In Day promotes the importance of homemade, group meals in fostering family and community relationships, encouraging healthy diets and stretching food dollars.

Individuals, families and groups can pledge to dine in on Dine In Day at http://www.aafcs.org/FCSday/commitment.html.

Diners can also participate on social media by sharing photos and using the hashtags #FCSdayFL and #healthyfamselfie.

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UF/IFAS researcher: Study shows federal school lunch guidelines lead to healthier choices

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


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Federal school lunch guidelines enacted in 2012 are improving nutrition for school-age children and reducing childhood obesity, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member.

UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics Jaclyn Kropp — along with economists at Georgia State University, Clemson University and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—worked with a county school food services director to develop a novel research model to study school lunch choices children make, combining lunch sales data collected at the cafeteria register with data on student absences.

They investigated how the nutritional content of National School Lunch Program entrées chosen by students varied across different socioeconomic and demographic groups and impacted their health.

When healthier menu items replaced less healthy items, researchers found the total calories of the students’ lunch choices decreased about 4 percent. Calories from fat decreased 18 percent, and those from sodium decreased by 8 percent.

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UF/IFAS study: Sweet Sensation® ‘Florida127’ strawberry lives up to its name

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Growers in Florida’s $300 million-a-year strawberry industry now have proof that the latest UF/IFAS-bred variety lasts longer on the shelf and tastes sweeter than two UF/IFAS cultivars, making it more attractive to faraway markets.

“These two attributes together make for a clear step up in eating quality for the consumer,” said Vance Whitaker, an associate professor of horticultural sciences and strawberry breeder at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida.

In a newly published study, scientists studied traits for Sweet Sensation® ‘Florida127,’ which was released commercially in the 2014-2015 growing season. Researchers compared them to those of ‘Florida Radiance’ and ‘Strawberry Festival,’ two other UF/IFAS-bred varieties.

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UF/IFAS Extension to host cottage food law workshop on Oct. 10

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

Gainesville, Fla.— Do you have a passion for cooking and want to invest your ideas in a home-based food business? The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension offers helpful information at the “Understanding Florida Cottage Food Law” workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., on Oct. 10.

Anyone who is interested in running his/her own cottage food operation in Florida can attend the one-day workshop at the Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center, 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville, Fla., 32611.

The “Understanding Florida Cottage Food Law” workshop will provide participants with general information on food safety and quality, product development, and regulatory requirements for Florida cottage food operation.

The registration fee for the course is $75 (If registered by Sep 30th, the fee will be $60). Registration includes course materials, lunch, coffee breaks and certificate of completion. Register at http://uf-cottage-food.eventbrite.com

For more information, contact Dr. Soo Ahn at sahn82@ufl.edu or 352-294-3909.


By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Soo Ahn, 352-294-3909, sahn82@ufl.edu


Gardening as a child may lead college students to eat more veggies

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

Veggies Get Fruved 091216

Please see cutline below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As researchers nationwide try to get college students to eat healthier foods, they’re finding that gardening may lead to a lasting habit of eating more fruits and vegetables.

That’s a recent conclusion from the “Get Fruved” project. “Get Fruved,” an acronym for “Get Your Fruits and Vegetables,” is a $4.9 million collaborative project among eight American universities, including the University of Florida. At UF, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is leading the campus study. One of the first steps of the project is to better understand what factors predict and influence the health behaviors of college and high school students.

A new study from Get Fruved shows if college students gardened as a child or use their green thumbs now, chances are they will eat more fruits and vegetables than those who don’t.

“This finding is particularly relevant, given the recent popularity of school gardens and farm-to-school projects,” said Anne Mathews, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food science and human nutrition and lead author of the study.

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UF/IFAS researcher wins grant to try to manipulate iron absorption in at-risk people

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

James Collins

James Collins

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — People with too much iron in their bodies can develop serious illnesses. So University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher James Collins plans to use a $2.5 million grant to begin to regulate iron absorption in the intestines.

Intestinal iron absorption is important because humans have no way to excrete excess iron. This inability to get rid of excess iron can create a condition known as “iron overload.” It can lead to cardiac issues, cancer, diabetes and a slew of other illnesses, Collins said.

People with genetic iron-overload disorders, or hemochromatosis, could eventually benefit from the research that Collins and his team will conduct.

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UF/IFAS Extension, Bok Tower Gardens team up for grand opening on Sept. 10

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


LAKE WALES, Fla. – After months of construction, the successful conclusion of the “Preserve the Legacy, Steward the Future” capital campaign, and the active implementation  of a  new relationship, Bok Tower Gardens and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ fruitful partnership comes into full bloom with the opening of several highly anticipated garden areas.

The grand opening celebration, on Saturday, Sept. 10, will feature the Pollinator Garden, Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden, Wild Garden, Outdoor Kitchen and Edible Garden. The Gardens will open at 8 a.m. and general admission will be free for this historic event.

“It has been a long journey since construction began in October 2014 and we are so excited to share these new Gardens with our visitors,” said Bok Tower Gardens president David Price. “This grand opening celebration salutes the work of our board, donors, members and staff who recognized this vision would lead to big improvements without changing the spirit of the Gardens.”

The celebration will begin at 10 a.m. with a special ribbon cutting dedication and remarks from Gardens’ president David Price, board of directors chair Cindy Alexander, board of directors vice chair Tomas Bok and Nick Place, dean and director of UF/IFAS Extension.

“This partnership between UF/IFAS Extension and Bok Tower Gardens not only helps us affect positive change in the community, but also make the world better,” Place said. “UF/IFAS Extension is dedicated to helping people connect with agriculture and natural resources, on which our survival and quality of life depends. We are thrilled to collaborate with Bok Tower Gardens to offer visitors new experiences and programming that do just that.”

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‘Nudges’ help students select healthy lunches

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

Kids in a school cafeteria to promote the My Plate and YUM nutrition programs.

Please see caption at end of story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With back-to-school season in full swing, imagine this: Your child orders lunch via computer and gets a little message saying he or she needs to add more nutritious food groups. That combination helped some youngsters eat healthier meals, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study showed.

Researchers caution that their findings are not generalizable — given the small sample size — but they say the methods give school lunch programs and parents potential tools to help children eat more nutritious meals at school.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 5 billion school lunches are served daily in the United States. Additionally, although 99.9 percent of American children aged 12 to 18 consume fruits and vegetables daily, less than 1 percent eat the federally recommended amount of those foods. So the UF/IFAS study could show helpful, albeit early, findings.

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UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County launches garden, nutrition program at community school

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


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PENSACOLA, Fla. — As students at C.A. Weis Elementary School return for the new school year, they’ll notice something different about the area next to the outdoor space where physical education classes are usually held. Thanks to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, students will find a new school garden that offers hands-on learning and strives to be a community gathering place.

“The school used to have a garden, but it fell into disuse, which is when we stepped in,” said Beth Bolles, horticulture agent with UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County, who co-organized outreach at C.A. Weis with Angela Hinkle, a UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County agent who specializes in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

The project would not have been possible without the support of the school’s faculty and administration, the organizers said.

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‘Local food opinion leaders’ can help bridge gap between farmers, consumers

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

Buying and selling at an outdoor farmers' market

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“GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As consumers increasingly desire local food, opinion leaders can encourage others to eat healthier food and, in doing so, improve the local economy, according to new University of Florida Food and Agricultural Sciences research.

“Opinion leaders” are those who influence others via the respect they earn from those around them, said Alexa Lamm, associate director of the UF Center for Public Issues Education (PIE Center) and the leader of this research.

“Opinion leaders could be critical in bridging the gap between locally grown food and consumers. That’s important because local food sales totaled $6.1 million in 2012, up $1.3 million in four years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But another study showed only 7.8 percent of U.S. farms targeted local consumers.

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