Congratulations to one of our newest groups of Master Food Volunteers recently trained in Henrico and Richmond City!

Many thanks to Twandra Lomax-Brown (Richmond) and Kim Edmonds (Henrico), who coordinated this training, and their efforts were featured in a recent radio interview through 88.9 WCVE radio station.

Click here for a direct link to the radio interview.

Welcome aboard!

It is National Volunteer Week!

And it is time to celebrate the accomplishments of our volunteers and our family and consumer sciences agents.

Take a look at the Virginia Cooperative Extension YouTube video presentation link below.  It showcases all of our Virginia Cooperative Extension volunteer programs, and as noted, our Master Food Volunteers and family and consumer Extension agents provided 61 programs within the last year!

Volunteer Video

Some of the most recent trends in the types of programs our volunteers are involved with include an integrated approach to program delivery with Master Gardeners, 4-H Youth Development, and the Family Nutrition Program.  Some of these great programs include partnerships for community gardens and farmers markets; nutrition education programs; 4-H youth food challenges; the Junior Master Food Volunteer Teen Mentors program; slow cooker family cooking programs; chefs and youth healthy cooks clubs; and food preparation and preservation workshops.  These are just a few examples of the many programs offered throughout the state.

Thank you for all you do to support our Extension programs!MFV Grn Logo



Spring Cleaning in your Spice Cupboard

Check out the Iowa State Spend Smart, Eat Smart blog about spice cupboard spring cleaning.  It has some great tips for checking your dry spices at least once a year and throwing away ones that are more than a year old and provides tips for making a seasoning mix with spices that you can still use in recipes:

What is your favorite spice?

What is your favorite spice?

This blog also has a series of “Spring Cleaning” tips for your kitchen.

Great ideas!


Master Food Volunteers Present Workshops in Partnership with Community Forum on Aging

Master Food Volunteers from Newport News and Suffolk recently presented workshops on healthy eating as part of the Community Forum on Aging with 128 participants.

Jaynee Sasso, a Master Food Volunteer from Newport News, presented “Getting a Perspective: Let Food Be Your Medicine” which featured information on how to increase the variety of healthy foods that we consume.  The content for her presentation was provided by Dr. Young Ju, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise at Virginia Tech.


Wanda Gerard (left) and Jaynee Sasso (right) participate in the Community Forum on Aging

Wanda Gerard, Master Food Volunteer and Master Gardener with Suffolk/Newport News, presented “Creative Cooking with Herbs and Spices.” Participants learned to identify herbs and their multiple uses for flavoring.

Many thanks to Jaynee and Wanda!



Roanoke Valley Master Food Volunteers Participate in Healthier Living Program

Kudos to Tracey Giordano, a Master Food Volunteer from Roanoke for her co-presentation with several local organizations in February to showcase healthy foods available in Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and the American South.

An article, “FASS Forward to a Healthier Future” about this interesting program is featured on the Roanoke Tribune web site.  In addition, Roanoke Master Food Volunteer, Almena Hughes is shown with Tracey while they chose produce at a local market, and Chef Laura Pole demonstrated how to incorporate alternative flavors (like herbs and spices) in cooking to reduce sodium.

In addition, Deb Chappell, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent for Roanoke and supervising agent for the Roanoke Valley Master Food Volunteers, encouraged program participants to participate in the upcoming FitEx program, an online fitness campaign, through Virginia Cooperative Extension.

The Newport News Extension Office recently hosted its first Junior Master Food Volunteer Teen Mentor Program!

This program is an expansion of our Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Food Volunteer Program and focuses on training teens between the ages of 13 and 18 to be able to assist agents and Master Food Volunteers with food- and nutrition-related programs.NewportNews_JMFV1 NewportNews_JMFV2 This first group of teen volunteers was trained by Lanette Kelly, the family and consumer sciences Extension agent for Newport News; Tiara Davulco, 4-H Youth Development Program Assistant for Newport News; Jacqueline Simmons, Nutrition Program Assistant, and Sandra Carey, Master Food Volunteer from Newport News.

NewportNews_JMFV3At the conclusion of their training, the group showcased a grand finale by preparing and serving a luncheon for over 75 guests!  Their meal consisted of recipes from the Family Nutrition Program, including easy stovetop lasagna, fruit salad, and banana pudding.

As a result of this training, a new 4-H teen club will be formed so that the teens can give back to their community in a variety of service projects.

Congratulations to everyone for a great job!  We look forward to hearing more about the successes of this great group of teens.


New Wellness Corner in Prince William County

prince_william_wellness_corner_Feb_15Margaret, a Master Food Volunteer from Prince William County, recently added a wellness and nutrition corner in the lunchroom at their Extension Office.  This corner will feature a vegetable and fruit of the month, healthy recipes that include the featured vegetable or fruit, and a calendar that includes tips to stay healthy.

Starting March 1st, Prince William County will start their Fix-Ex Program that promotes eating vegetables, fruits and exercise. This program is designed to have a captain of the 6 member team, documenting your intake of vegetable, fruits and exercise. One team has already formed in Manassas.

Way to go, Margaret!  This is a great idea to inspire co-workers, visitors, and program participants to make some positive changes.

Fairfax Master Food Volunteers Participate in National Farmers Market Week

Our Master Food Volunteers in Fairfax recently participated in National Farmers Market Week at the County Government Center Market.  Katie Strong, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent for Fairfax, and Mae Carroll, Farmers Market Coordinator for the Fairfax County Park Authority and a very active Master Food Volunteer, are featured in this YouTube video, which will air on the Fairfax County internal news station, Channel 16.  Our Master Food Volunteers provide food demonstrations at these markets to showcase recipes for using local produce and choosing healthier options for fruits and vegetables.

Way to go!  We appreciate the hard work of our Family and Consumer Sciences Agents and Master Food Volunteers!

For more information about the 15th annual National Farmers Market Week and how farmers markets around the country also celebrated this week-long celebration, visit the USDA’s blog site:


Master Food Volunteers participate in Master Gardener College 2014

In June 2014, our Master Food Volunteers had the opportunity to attend the Master Gardener College held at Virginia Tech.  We collaborated with Dave Close, the State Coordinator for the Master Gardeners, John Freeborn, Assistant Coordinator for the Master Gardeners, our Extension faculty, graduate students, and VT Dining Services staff to offer some workshops specific to food preparation and safety.  Following are some pictures and highlights of our time together.  We had a great time and are very appreciative of the hospitality from our Master Gardener colleagues.  Thank you!

Eric Bowen, our Area Specialized Food Safety Agent in the Central District presented on produce safety from the garden to the table.  He also focused on some basic methods of food preservation and safety.

Joell Eifert, our Area Specialized Food Safety Agent in the Southwest District presented an introduction to home vegetable fermentation.  Joell also emphasized how to follow scientifically-tested methods to ensure a safe product.

Alisha Farris, a Registered Dietician and graduate research assistant in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise provided a workshop on reducing sodium, sugar, and alternative sources of protein.  We also reviewed food labels of some of our favorite food products:

alisha_classroomChef Randy, Chef Mark, and Jordan from Virginia Tech’s Dining Services shared some “keep it simple solutions” through using specific cooking techniques to enhance the flavors of our food without having to add extra ingredients, such as salt or sugar.  We even participated in some really fun taste-testings:

Jordan_Mark_Randy2Chef Heather Petty, graduate research assistant in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, demonstrated ways we can “play with our food” to encourage more consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Heather discussed how to use the natural shapes of our fruits and vegetables to make fun “faces.”  Also included in this picture are some additional ideas for “edible art” for July 4, such as a watermelon basket and our United States flag using a variety of fresh fruits:

heather_display_veggies_fruit2Heather demonstrates how to carve the watermelon basket using safe knife skills:

heather_watermelon_basket2Dr. Molly Kelly, Enology Extension Specialist in our VT Department of Food Science, demonstrated some of the basics of enjoying winemaking at home as a hobby.  It was interesting to learn  about some of the different varieties of fruit that can be used to produce these wines:

Molly_demonstrates_winemakingWe had a wonderful time this year and look forward to more opportunities for continuing education in the coming year.

A special thanks to our instructors for their hard work and to the Master Gardeners and faculty for working with us on these workshops!

Following is a picture of our Master Food Volunteers and Family and Consumer Sciences Agents participating in one of our sessions:MFV_FST_classroom2Happy summer!

Melissa Chase, State Coordinator, Master Food Volunteer Program







Prince William Master Food Volunteer Recognition

Prince William Master Food Volunteer Recognition

I recently had the opportunity to visit with Master Food Volunteers from the Prince William County Extension Office.  Ms. Nancy Stegon, the supervising Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, coordinated the event, and we had a great time celebrating the accomplishments of these wonderful volunteers.

Among the many programs they are already involved, many of these volunteers have been busy with Chef Club programs in the local schools, and they will be busy this summer with programs at local farmers markets.

Many thanks to our great agents and volunteers!

Melissa Chase, State Coordinator