K-State Research and Extension News
SOUND LIVING is a weekly public affairs program distributed to radio stations throughout the area, addressing issues related to families and consumers.
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Sustainability is often associated with saving the planet by using less energy and reducing our overall carbon footprint. But, just how difficult is it to live more sustainably? A publication from K-State Research and Extension offers dozens of ways to have a tasty, healthful and sustainable diet – and at the same time have a positive impact on the environment. On today’s Sound Living: the first in a two-part series with K-State Research and Extension human nutrition specialist, registered dietitian and author of the publication: Making Everyday Choices for a Healthy, Sustainable Diet, Mary Meck Higgins.
 

September is National Food Safety Education Month, a perfect time to remind families about the importance of food safety and the steps they can take to reduce the risk of food borne illness. On today’s Sound Living: K-State Research and Extension food scientist Karen Blakeslee offers some easy-to-follow food safety tips to protect your family’s health every time you prepare food.
 

K-State Research and Extension is conducting a survey to identify adolescent health needs and what can be done to address those needs. If you live in Kansas and are over the age of 13, you’re eligible to participate in the online survey. However, the deadline for completing the survey is September 19th. K-State Research and Extension youth development specialist Elaine Johannes and Kansas Adolescent Health Community Input Survey project manager, Bryant Miller, a graduate student in the K-State School of Family Studies and Human Services, discuss how the information being gathered can be used to improve adolescent health in Kansas.

Parents should be relieved when they pick up their child from preschool and they say that “playing” was the best part of their day. Play is not a break from learning – it’s the way young children learn. Several studies have shown that children learn more from educational activities that support their own interests and ideas and play is the main way children learn and develop the skills necessary for critical thinking and leadership. K-State Research and Extension child development specialist Bradford Wiles says to forget about sitting preschool-aged kids down at the table and using work sheets, drills and flash cards to learn about letters and numbers, what they really need is the freedom to play.
 

Disaster is commonly defined as a sudden event, such as an accident or a natural catastrophe that causes great damage or loss of life. While we can’t always control what happens, we can be better prepared to deal with a disaster. For the nearly three million people who live in Kansas, a disaster could include a tornado, flood, ice storm or fire. K-State Research and Extension family resource specialist Elizabeth Kiss says Prepare Kansas, an online financial challenge to organize and help ease recovery after disasters, is being offered throughout September to help families build a household inventory, review insurance coverages, make a grab-and-go box and provide tips for what to do following a disaster.
 

Whether it’s convenience, to save money or eat healthier, millions of Americans carry their lunch to school and work. However, if proper food safety precautions aren’t followed, that sack lunch could make them sick. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, food brought from home can be kept safe if it’s first handled and cooked properly and then kept out of what’s referred to as the “danger zone” – the temperature between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit where harmful bacteria multiply rapidly. K-State Research and Extension food scientist Karen Blakeslee says making sack lunches safe and healthy isn’t difficult, it just requires planning.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed dietary data from the 2003-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to estimate trends in fruit and vegetable intake by children ages 2-18. According to the report, total fruit intake in cup-equivalents per 1,000 calories increased 13%. Whole fruit intake increased 67%, while fruit juice intake decreased 29%. The total vegetable intake did not change. K-State Research and Extension nutrition specialist Sandy Procter says the report is good news because it shows progress is being made through the various policies and programs that have been implemented over the last several years.
 

More than one-third of the food purchased in the United States is discarded. And, on average, households in the U.S. throw away 14 percent of the food purchased.  However, K-State Research and Extension human nutrition specialist Mary Meck Higgins says there are several ways to reduce – even eliminate – food waste in the home.

As a new school year starts, there is typically a mix of anxiety, excitement and stress for students and parents as they consider all the opportunities available for outside activities. It’s natural for parents to want to provide opportunities for their children, while at the same time, protecting time for family activities. However, maintaining that balance is often difficult. On today’s Sound Living: balancing the time children spend on outside activities and the time they spend with family.
 

According to a government report, the number of babies born last year rose by about 4,700 – the first annual increase since 2007. Experts have been blaming the downward trend mainly on the nation’s economy, which was in recession from 2007 to 2009 and shaky for several years after that. Now the economy has started to pick up and so has child bearing – at least in women ages 30 and older. On today’s Sound Living: K-State Research and Extension child development specialist Bradford Wiles discusses how parenting begins long before the baby is conceived.
 

More than a quarter of Americans have no emergency savings, according to an annual survey conducted by Bankrate.com. Of those who do have savings, 67% have less than six months’ worth of expenses. While it’s nice to have a large sum set aside for emergencies, K-State Research and Extension family resource management specialist Elizabeth Kiss (kish) says having access to $500 to $1,000 of savings will help most people meet unexpected expenses. On today’s Sound Living: ways to start building an emergency fund.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft last month with updated advice on fish consumption. The two agencies have concluded that pregnant and breastfeeding women, those who might become pregnant, and young children should eat more fish that is lower in mercury to gain important developmental and health benefits. Previously, the FDA and EPA recommended maximum amounts of fish that these groups should consume, but did not promote a minimum amount. K-State Research and Extension nutrition specialist Sandy Proctor discusses the health benefits fish provide.

According to the National Retail Federation, the average cost for back-to-school spending for families with children in kindergarten through 12th grade is around $650. In total, families spend $26.7 billion dollars for K-12 children. When you add in college-aged kids, the number soars to $72.5 billion. The biggest cost for back-to-school shoppers is clothing and accessories, followed by electronics – and those costs often hit all at once. However, K-State Research and Extension family resource specialist Elizabeth Kiss says prioritizing needs versus wants will allow shoppers to spread those costs over a longer period.

Over the last 30 years, Americans have increased the amount of daily calories they consume. Many of those extra calories come from snacks. In fact, snacks now account for as much as 25 percent of all calories consumed…equivalent to a fourth meal. According to K-State Research and Extension nutrition specialist Mary Meck Higgins, we could reduce calories and increase nutritional value by simply choosing a snack that comes from one of the basic food groups.

The world community faces a formidable challenge of sustainably feeding a growing population that will double the global food demand by the year 2050. Dean of the Kansas State University College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension, John Floros, says “It’s a very large amount of food that we will have to produce in a very short time in order to feed everybody.” Even today, with our highly productive agriculture system, one billion people do not have adequate food or nutrition. On today’s Sound Living: building on the university’s land-grant heritage to address the world’s growing needs with the Global Food Systems initiative.

More than three-quarters of Americans planned to take a summer vacation last year, with nearly half planning a beach trip. The survey, conducted by Orbitz, showed Orlando was the top vacation destination. Bradford Wiles, a child development specialist at Kansas State University, says a summer trip, no matter how near or how far from home, can create a lifetime of memories. However, traveling as a family – whether it’s by car, train or airplane – presents some unique challenges. On today’s Sound Living: tips to make summer travel fun for the entire family.

During a nine-month period, approximately 294,000 reviews of New York City restaurants posted on Yelp.com were screened by software programs for possible cases of foodborne illness. The software flagged 893 reviews for evaluation by an epidemiologist, resulting in the identification of 468 reviews that were consistent with recent or potentially recent foodborne illness. However, only 15 – or 3% -- of the reviews described events that had been reported to the health department. The results of this pilot project, a joint venture between the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Columbia University and Yelp, suggest online restaurant reviews might help identify unreported outbreaks of foodborne illness and restaurants with poor food handling practices. K-State Research and Extension food scientist Karen Blakeslee discusses the pilot project and offers some tips to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

A plan to allow some schools to opt out of increased nutrition standards for school meals in the 2014-15 school year is making the rounds in the nation’s capital. The waiver would direct the USDA to create a process that would allow schools to opt out of the heightened meal standards contained in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 if they can demonstrate a net loss from operating a food service program for a period of at least six months, beginning on or after July 1, 2013. K-State Research and Extension nutrition specialist Sandy Procter says a recent Harvard study, cited in a USDA Fact Sheet, shows the new school lunch program is meeting or exceeding many of its goals.

Each year in the United States, approximately 2-point-1 million couples get married – that’s about 62-hundred weddings each day. June, August, May, July, September and October are the most popular months. In addition to the usual pre-wedding preparations, K-State Research and Extension family systems specialist Charlotte Shoup Olsen says it’s important for couples get to know each other. This includes discussing their finances, hopes, dreams and expectations, and how to effectively communicate – especially when disagreements occur. On today’s Sound Living: getting to know each other before the “save the date” cards are sent out.
 

Research shows local grocery stores are vital to America’s rural communities. These stores help drive the local economy – providing essential jobs and tax revenue. Yet, we continue to hear that another rural grocery store is closing. Kansas State University is working to reverse that trend. As part of that effort, the fourth National Rural Grocery Summit is being held next month in Manhattan. K-State Center for Engagement and Community Development director, David Procter, discusses why they strongly believe grocery stores in rural communities – those of 3,000 people or less – are essential to that community’s survival.
 

Unfortunately, we too often see a parent name-calling, ridiculing or shaming their child in public. While this is upsetting to witness, imagine the damage this behavior – which is also most likely occurring at home – has on the child. K-State Research and Extension child development specialist Bradford Wiles says parents can avoid this damaging behavior by being mindful about how they communicate with their children.
 

There are many things we just don’t stop to think about when talking to loved ones…and most of the time that works. However, when there’s a conflict in the family, we may need to be more aware of how we interact with one another. K-State Research and Extension family systems specialist Charlotte Shoup Olsen says communication really becomes critical when there is a conflict in the family because the patterns we’ve developed will contribute to how that conflict is resolved.
 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing to update the Nutrition Facts label found on most food packages in the United States. According to the FDA, the labels help consumers make informed food choices and maintain healthy dietary practices. K-State Research and Extension nutrition specialist Sandy Procter explains how the proposed changes would benefit consumers.
 

According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the average retail costs of such staples like fish, poultry and eggs have climbed by double digits over the last 12 months and items like beef have skyrocketed. With punishing droughts and rising global demand, there’s no way to know if and when prices will begin to fall. As a result, it may be time to make some adjustments to our eating and shopping habits. K-State Research and Extension nutrition specialist Mary Meck Higgins outlines five strategies to reduce food costs.
 

According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, 86-percent of households own an outdoor barbecue, grill or smoker and 62-percent of grill owners use them year-round. A gas grill is the most popular, followed by charcoal and electric. The Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day top the list of the most popular grilling holidays, but there has been an increase in grilling Thanksgiving meals outdoors. On today’s Sound Living: Kansas State University food scientist Karen Blakeslee discusses grilling safety and food safety concerns associated with outdoor cooking.
 

Making the most of your money starts with five building blocks for managing and growing your money. Those building blocks, according to MyMoney.gov, include five principles: earn, save and invest, protect, spend and borrow. The goal of the program, known as My Money Five, is for people to keep these principles in mind as they make day-to-day decisions and plan their financial goals. April is Money Smart Month across Kansas and K-State Research and Extension family resource management specialist Elizabeth Kiss (kish) discusses how these building blocks can help everyone improve their financial situation – especially if they start saving when they’re young.
 

In an effort to reduce obesity in four-year-old children, Kansas State University Research and Extension is leading a seven-state research effort to improve children’s food choices and their health. Funding for the five-year, 4-point-5 million dollar project was awarded in 2011 by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. K-State has teamed up with land grant institutions in North and South Dakota, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin to determine the impact of community coaching as a way to reduce obesity in young children. K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences assistant director Paula Peters and nutrition educator and Extension specialist Sandy Procter have lead roles in the project.
 

Researchers from Boston University Medical Center spent about a month last year camped out in Boston-area fast food places to observe interaction between parents and caregivers using smartphones and the children who were with them. The findings showed that when parents or babysitters are glued to their smartphones in public places, they may not be paying close attention to their kids and are more likely to respond harshly to their child’s behavior. K-State Research and Extension child development specialist Bradford Wiles discusses what can be learned from this study.
 

Last year, there were 56 tornadoes reported in Kansas – making it the quietest year for the violent storms since 1994. According to the National Weather Service, only five of the tornadoes ranked as strong, violent tornadoes. There was only one injury and no deaths. Chad Omitt, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Topeka, says having a plan is one step we can all take to protect ourselves in the event of a violent storm or tornado.
 

With spring still weeks away, it’s a good time to take inventory of all the things crammed into the pantry, kitchen cabinets, refrigerator and freezer. What you’ll most likely discover is that the things creating the clutter don’t get used anymore, you have too many similar items, and that some food is well beyond its expiration date. Karen Blakeslee, a K-State Research and Extension food scientist and coordinator of the Rapid Response Center, says organizing a kitchen will save time and money.

Walk Kansas, an annual K-State Research and Extension health initiative to move more and eat better, begins March 16th and runs through May 10th. The minimum goal for each six-member team is to be physically active enough to cover 423 miles – equivalent to walking across Kansas. State coordinator of the Walk Kansas program, Sharolyn Jackson, discusses the benefits of Walk Kansas and some of the changes being implemented for this year’s event.
 
 

According to the 2013 Annual National Survey Assessing Household Savings, released as part of America Saves Week, only about half of Americans reported good savings habits. Kansas Saves, which mirrors the America Saves initiative, encourages people to commit to saving, to reduce debt, to invest and build personal wealth. On today’s Sound Living: K-State Research and Extension family resource management specialist Elizabeth Kiss (kish) discusses how to set financial goals and how to make a plan for attaining those goals.
 
 

SNAP… Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…formerly known as Food Stamps, provides food-purchasing assistance for low and no-income people in the U.S. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, SNAP is the largest nutrition assistance program and is estimated to have served more than 47 million low-income Americans in Fiscal Year 2013. Continued funding for the program was included in the Farm Bill. On today’s Sound Living: K-State Research and Extension’s role in providing nutrition education to families with limited resources through the Family Nutrition Program – Kansas’ version of SNAP-Education.
 
 

According to a recent USA Today online article, millennials have been described as enthusiastic, adaptable, entrepreneurial and skilled multi-taskers – and as lazy, entitled and unmanageable job hoppers. The article, based on the findings in the Cornerstone study, shows millennials prefer team work, are still pro-gadget, and may be hitting their tech limit – with 38% saying they’ve been subjected to “technology overload” on the job, and 41% saying they’ve encountered an “information overload” – which is significantly higher than for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. On today’s Sound Living: generational differences in the workplace.
 
 

An estimated 34 million Americans are caregivers for an older parent – and of that number – 15% live one or more hours away. In many instances, the caregiving is being arranged for parents who live in other states. Fortunately, K-State Research and Extension adult development and aging specialist Bradford Wiles says there are strategies long-distance caregivers can follow to make the process easier. On today’s Sound Living: managing long-distance caregiving.
 
 

A report by the European Food Safety Authority re-evaluated aspartame as a food additive and concluded that aspartame and its breakdown products are safe for the general population to consume at the level previously established. K-State Research and Extension human nutrition specialist Mary Meck Higgins looks at the study and the importance of its findings.
 
 

W-2’s are starting to arrive, marking the start of the tax season. In addition to collecting all the necessary financial information to file a return, many are already planning how to spend their anticipated refund. K-State Research and Extension family resource management specialist Elizabeth Kiss (kish) suggests using the “30-40-30” tax refund plan to pay for your past, present and future. On today’s Sound Living: making plans for your tax refund.
 
 

At the beginning of a new year, it’s almost impossible to watch TV without being inundated by weight loss commercials. However, these diets typically only produce short-term results. Lifestyle changes, such as being more physically active and learning how to control portion size, are needed to produce long-term results. K-State Research and Extension nutrition educator Sandy Procter says eating more family meals is an effective way to control weight because we feel less pressure to overeat when dining at home.
 

pace heaters are generally used to warm a small space for a short period of time. However, the latest space heater to hit the market is one that uses infrared heat and claims to heat a whole house while significantly reducing energy costs. But, is that accurate? Bruce Snead, director of Extension Engineering at Kansas State University and an Extension specialist in residential energy, says any space heater can warm a small space, but no space heater will effectively heat a large area.
 

New Year’s resolutions, the attempt to break bad habits and make improvements in all areas of life, are often abandoned before the end of January. But, why do so many people struggle to accomplish their goals? When it comes to eating healthy and being more physically active, K-State Research and Extension nutrition specialist Sandy Procter says that making small changes helps make goals more attainable.
 

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