Meal Prep for Busy Times

It is possible to plan and eat nutritious meals and snacks during busy times. When it comes to planning, preparing and serving meals, one size never fits all.  However, the planning process can be helpful for everyone. What are some things that you need to take into consideration for menu planning? How many people are you serving? Are there any specific dietary needs?  Where will you be serving the meals (at the table, on the go, etc.)? What does your schedule look like?

A few reminders:

You don’t need to be a gourmet chef nor do you need to spend the whole day in the kitchen to eat a healthy meal or snack. If you want to brush up on some basic kitchen skills, Utah has a series of “Create Better Health” instructions for creating your own basic types of meals such as Create a Pizza or Create a Stir Fry. The Canned Food Alliance has a chart to show how “Just Add One” additional ingredient to popular dishes can add nutrition, value, convenience and taste. Obviously they are sharing about canned food but the same concept can be used for frozen and fresh foods as well. For example, once spring arrives, I am happy to “just add one” fresh herbs like chopped chives to garnish to our dishes to add taste and make them look gourmet.

  • Create a two to four-week menu cycle. Although my example isn’t the same as day-to-day plans at home, it dawned on me a few years ago that I can use the same meal plan, cooler packing list and shelf stable ingredients for all our camping trips. Sure, it’s the same meals but we only camp a couple times of year so not only does no one mind the same menu, they actually look forward to those favorite camp meals. I have also brought a few of those menus “home” by adding foil pack meals on the grill to our regular household summer menu plan. (see Grill below)
  • Keep your plan, ingredients and favorite kitchen and travel tools (for on-the-go meals) easily accessible.

Food Preparation and Planning Ideas

 

Basic Back Ups

What are some meals you can pull together in ten minutes or less? You probably already have some ideals that work for you. These are the examples of shelf stable food that you keep on hand for those times to text or ask “whoever is home first” to pull together quickly. One example: 3 can chili + crackers + cheese + dried fruit. These ingredients (other than cheese) can be stored together on a shelf. Need some additional ideas for easy, quick meals? Try these Top 10 Ideas for 10 Minute Dinners. 

If you have it, use it!

Having different kitchen appliances can offer some advantages but that doesn’t mean that you need any new equipment. What kitchen appliances or tools do you already own that can help make meal preparation easier?

  • Grill. Make up foil packets of your favorite protein and vegetables.
  • Waffle Maker. As the author of this Grilled Cheese Wafflewich (sandwich) pointed out, “I don’t really want to buy a sandwich press – I already have too many kitchen appliances.”

Food Safety for Food on the Go

A few tips about meals that aren’t eaten in the house. These might be meals that individuals take to work or school or they might be meals like picnics or dinner on the run. Some food is safe without a cold source like whole fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and vegetables, hard cheese, canned meat and fish, breads, crackers and chips, peanut butter, jelly, mustard, and pickles.

The Two-Hour Rule. Foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours.

The following tips on keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot are from the Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA. Freezing sandwiches helps them stay cold. For best quality add mayonnaise, lettuce, or tomatoes later (they don’t freeze well)

The following tips are for individual lunch bags verses a large cooler:

  • Insulated, soft-sided lunch boxes or bags are best for keeping food cold, but pack at least two ice sources with perishable food in any type of lunch bag or box you use.
  • To keep lunches cold away from home, include at least two cold sources.
  • You can use two frozen gel packs (not smaller than 5×3-inches each) or combine a frozen gel pack with a frozen juice box or frozen bottle of water. Freeze gel packs or drinks overnight.
  • When packing, place frozen items on top and bottom of the perishable food items to keep them cold.
  • If there’s a refrigerator available, place your insulated bag in the refrigerator and leave the lid or bag open so that cold air can keep the food cold.

Use an insulated container to keep food like soup, chili, and stew hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Keep the insulated container closed until mealtime to keep the food hot — 140 °F (73.9 °C) or above.

Handwashing

Ideal conditions: wash hands with warm water and soap, lather and scrub hands and fingers for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.

If running water is not accessible:

Cleaning and Sanitizing, handout and research on using common bleach, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to sanitize kitchen surfaces.

Recipes

While the busiest times might not be the best times to try out new recipes, these are just a few examples of websites that share recipes that are easy, nutritious, tasty, and economical:

Additional Resources from Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences

Message to Future Self blog post describes, “Planning this way allows me to see which days should be a slow cooker meal, which evenings we can cook together in the kitchen, and which nights are going to be a creative use of leftovers” and shares links to templates and menu idea inspirations.

Making Your Own Convenience Foods Factsheet. Tips and suggestions for planning and preparing parts of meals ahead of time can make you feel in control as you start your day.

Sometimes busy times are also stressful times. By eating a healthier diet we may reduce our risk of chronic inflammation and diseases.

Thank you also to Amanda Bohlen for her 2018,  Stress Less with Meal Prep. Count CALM Down for the Holidays Challenge Week 3 Message 1, Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension.

Reviewing Annual Work Goals

I just celebrated my work anniversary on March first! Although this list of broad list of goals is not new, I wanted to put them down in writing.

  1. Be mindful.
  2. Be prepared.
  3. Be intentional.
  4. Clearly communicate emotions.
  5. Keep striving for high ideals.

Be mindful.  An established definition of mindfulness comes from John Kabat-Zinn: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”. Employers have been encouraged to offer mindfulness exercises through worksite wellness programs as one way to reduce absences and increase productivity among staff. In addition, there are personal benefits to practicing mindfulness. The Extension employee who practices mindfulness is better prepared to react in a positive way to daily changes and challenges on the job as well as to boost the enjoyment of the successes and highlights of their career.

The practice of mindfulness will help you handle daily changes and challenges”…. and boost the enjoyment of the successes and highlights! I use mindfulness to help remind myself to breathe, focus, increase gratitude, decrease judgments and work from an asset based approach.

Be prepared.  I know this sounds like the Scouts motto but it’s a good goal for Extension staff.  Although flexibility is important for an Extension Educator, flexibility is a great second step to a well-prepared program. In addition, I have learned from previous colleagues that “unprep” time is just as important as “prep” time for classes. It takes time to unpack bags, restock handouts, input evaluations and return emails to participants about questions not answered during class. I’m not very good at scheduling unprep time.

Plan the work. Work the plan. ~ Paraphrased from Margaret Thatcher

Be intentional. First, be intentional with words, especially in public settings. Don’t default to acronyms or people’s first names when anyone in the group might be struggling to keep up with the information. Make it easy to follow up with contact information, links to specific articles or research. In addition to being intentional with words, adopt the five elements of brave space: Controversy with civility, Own your intentions and your impact, Challenge by choice, Respect and No attacks (Aroa & Clemens, 2013).

The National Council on Family Relations listed skills and knowledge needed for healthy family functioning.  They are also valuable in the workplace:

  • strong communication skills
  • knowledge of typical human development
  • good decision-making skills, positive self-esteem
  • healthy interpersonal relationships

I benefit from the work of my professional organizations and continued professional development. I use what I learn to strengthen my work. In 2020 when information is all around us, 24/7, I need to be intentional to take the time to read and use the information from my professional organizations and colleagues. As a Certified Family Life Educator, I am intentional about using an educational, preventative and strengths-based approach to support and empower individuals and families.

Clearly communicate emotions. This summary is from Understanding Your Emotions for Teen Health: “All emotions tell us something about ourselves and our situation. But sometimes we find it hard to accept what we feel. We might judge ourselves for feeling a certain way, like if we feel jealous, for example. But instead of thinking we shouldn’t feel that way, it’s better to notice how we actually feel.” Emotions, whether we label them as good or bad, are part of the human experience.

One we notice how we actually feel, it can be challenging to share with others, especially when experiencing strong emotions. The following description and example is taken from Manage Your Money, Ohio State University Extension, Lesson One: The Three Parts of an I-Message

  1. “I feel …” Make a clear statement of how you feel. (note, name your emotion, not what you are thinking)
  2. “When (this happens) …” Name specific behavior that caused you to feel that way.
  3. “Because …” Say why the behavior or event is upsetting.

 Instead of a “you-message” that tends to reflect blame and criticism, the “I-Messages” focus on specific examples. Instead of: “You never record the amounts of checks you write.” Try this: “I feel frustrated when we have to pay an overdraft fee from our checking account when [because] we don’t have enough money to cover the automatic bill payment for the utility company.”  (Manage Your Money)

I would like to add an additional statement and reminder.

Additional Statement: Feel free to add a fourth statement after the three part I-Message: “What I need is …” State what you need.

Reminder: Although this is a helpful communication framework to use when upset, it can also be used for positive feelings or emotions. For example, “I feel optimistic for our statewide FCS program when I hear about the good work and programs that my FCS county colleagues are offering across the state because it gives me inspiration. What I need is to keep up communication on this type of information on a regular basis.”

Keep striving for high ideals.

“I believe in my own work and in the opportunity I have to make my life useful to humanity. Because I believe these things, I am an Extension professional”. Extension Professional’s Creed

“I accept the opportunity to empower individuals, families and communities to meet their needs and goals through a learning partnership”. The National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Creed.

“Keep interest in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time… Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind to you what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism …” from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1927).

Keep striving for high ideals. And surround yourself with heroes.

Cheers! What’s on Your Holiday Drink Menu?

The following article was published in The Sojourner’s Truth, volume 58, issue 10, December 4, 2019, written by Patrice Powers-Barker. For more information about The Sojourner’s Truth please read the paragraphs at the end of the article.

Holiday Drinks. When it comes to the wintertime season and the end of the year with events and parties, there are many reminders about what NOT to eat or drink during this busy time of year. It is important to remember that many holiday drinks might be high in calories or even fat. For example, some drinks like eggnog or coffee shop drinks can be high in fat, sugar and calories. Cornell University offers a reminder, “cheers to good health – quench your thirst with low-calorie options”.  Let’s switch one word and offer “Cheers to good health – quench your thirst with healthy options.”

As a reminder, if you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. The recommendations are up to one drink a day for women and up to 2 drinks a day for men. This article will focus on options for non-alcoholic drinks for any time of the day and for a wide variety of people, including children. Whether you are hosting a group or preparing your own drink, there are easy ways to keep it healthy and dress it up for this busy time of year.

A few benefits of healthy, winter drinks:                            mug warm cider

  • Keeps you hydrated
  • Adds additional nutrients to your day
  • Doesn’t add hidden calories to your day
  • Encourages you to enjoy yourself, your company and the chance to relax

Water. Certainly, water is a valuable drink for everyone but not everyone prefers a glass of plain water. This is a good time to make a pitcher of infused water and store it in the refrigerator. Use fruits that are on sale or in season. Add slices of citrus fruits or apples. Add berries. Have a drink of sparkling water or add some sparkling water to a glass of 100% fruit juice for a fruit flavored spritzer.

Warm Drinks. When it comes to hot drinks, people often have their favorites. Whether you are a coffee drinker or prefer hot tea, consider adding additional options to your day. Whether you’re an adult who loves a hot cocoa or you’re making plans for the children’s drink options, hot chocolate can be a good way to add some calcium to the day. If you have not enjoyed a cup of hot tea recently, check out all the options at the grocery store. There are so many different kinds and flavors especially when you look at herbal teas!

Hosting a party? Cranberry Apple Cider is easy to make. Try this warm drink in the slow cooker.  Just add a bag of fresh cranberries, a couple whole cinnamon sticks, a few whole cloves and a 64 oz bottle 100% apple juice to the slow cooker.  Let it warm up on high or keep it on low for the day.

If you are hosting a party, consider making it easier on yourself to serve hot drinks by using a hot beverage carafe. University of Nebraska Extension points out that some guests may prefer a hot drink like coffee or tea either before or after a meal. In order to have hot beverages available over a period of time, carafes can help keep drinks hot and fresh tasting for hours. It beats making several small amounts of drinks or letting it sit around too long to either color off or on the heat source for an undesirable flavor. They offer this tip: Preheat the carafe by filling it with hot water while you prepare the hot beverage. One the drink is ready, empty the hot water and fill the carafe with your beverage. The hot water heats it up to help keep your drinks warm for longer. Some coffee makers come with carafes. When purchasing a new one, look for a carafe that easy to use and clean.

Festive drinks. Sometimes these holiday specials are called “mocktails” if they’re made without the alcohol. These are nice to have for those who are young or not drinking alcohol at holiday parties.  Like the spritzer mentioned above, it can be as easy as combining 100% fruit juice and sparkling water. In addition, add some tasty garnishes such as berries or fruit slices.

Enjoy.  I know many people live a fast-paced life and it seems to speed up at the end of the year!  If you can take a few minutes to yourself to quietly enjoy a warm cup of coffee or tea, the “to do” list will still be there in 10 minutes. Whether you choose a mocktail or choose to indulge in a high calorie or alcoholic drink, enjoy the taste of the drink and the company around you. If you are rushed or feeling stressed out, remind yourself to grab a drink of water.

Sources: Nebraska Extension, Cornell Extension, Produce for Better Health Foundation,  Utah State 4-H Food and Nutrition

The Sojourner’s Truth. Since 2008, OSU Extension, Lucas County has partnered with The Sojourner’s Truth to share a monthly nutrition and health related article. The Sojourner’s Truth is available in many ways: find it weekly around Northwest Ohio at local business, purchase an annual subscription and/or find it online at http://www.thetruthtoledo.com/Truth.htm

From their website:  “The Sojourner’s Truth is an innovative weekly newspaper serving the African-American community in the northwest Ohio area. The Truth started publication in April of 2002 and has grown to a readership of over 70,000 readers today.

“The Truth is a newspaper that is published by, for and about the African-American community. We strive to bring our readers in-depth information about education, business, arts, cultural activities and local and national politics. We also pride ourselves on maintaining a proper objectivity about the news we present and up-to-date opinion and editorials on things that are of importance to the community”

From Comfort Zone to Growth Zone

3 circles to demonstrate 3 zones

From Comfort Zone to Growth Zone was presented by two Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educators, Melissa J. Rupp, Fulton County  and Patrice Powers-Barker, Lucas County on Wednesday October 23, 2019 at the 2019 Family and Consumer Sciences Annual Conference.  The theme of the two-day conference was Growing Our Comfort Zone. The goals for the annual FCS conference:

  • Enhanced ability to create meaningful connections and relationships that enable strong internal and external collaborations
  • Clarify and strengthen our roles within Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • Find new ways to relate and adapt to diverse audiences
  • Identify and examine what you would define as your comfort zone and determine ways of reaching outside that zone

The goals From Comfort Zone to Growth Zone lunchtime group activity focused on identifying and examining personal definitions of comfort zones in a non-judgmental way. Comfort zones are not good or bad. After identifying some personal zones, colleagues were encouraged to envision ways to help others when they are making the stretch to grow from the comfort zone to a growth zone.

This activity was inspired by the group training offered by Scott VanderWey, Associate Professor and Director, 4-H Adventure, Washington State University Extension. He presented in Fulton County Ohio in the summer of 2019. He shared a wide variety of resources including the workbook, Building Successful Learning Communities, Educator’s Handbook, 2019, Washington State University Extension. The information on comfort zones is on page nineteen of the handbook.

This link outlines the 4-H Challenge Model including the previously quote on “comfort and growth circles” and the simple theories of education: Adventure-Based Learning, Experiential Education, Full Value Contact, Comfort & Growth Circles and Challenge by Choice. In addition, this blog notes Challenge by Choice as one of the five elements of Brave Space. The goal of Brave Space is to create a supportive environment for all members to participate in dialogue.

Live Smart Ohio Blogs:

References:

4-H challenge model. Washington State University Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.wsu.edu/chelan-douglas/communities/corporatechallenge/programsactivities/challenge/thechallengemodel/

Ali, D. (2017). Safe spaces and brave spaces: Historical context and recommendations for students affairs professionals. NASPA Policy and Practice Series. Issue 2. Retrieved from: https://www.naspa.org/images/uploads/main/Policy_and_Practice_No_2_Safe_Brave_Spaces_DOWNLOAD.pdf

Arao, B., & Clemens, K. (2013). From safe spaces to brave spaces: A new way to frame dialogue around diversity and social justice. In L. Landreman (Ed.). The art of effective facilitation: Reflections from social justice educators (pp. 135-150). Sterling, VA: Stylus. Retrieved from: https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/inclusive-teaching/wp-content/uploads/sites/355/2016/06/From-Safe-Spaces-to-Brave-Spaces.pdf

Building successful learning communities, Educator’s handbook (2019). Washington State University Extension. Retrieved from https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/2050/2019/01/teacher-workbook-2019-Edited-19-0109.pdf

Franc Cyr, L. (2004). Bulletin #6103, Effective Communication, GroupWorks: Getting things done in groups. University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/6103e/

Naden, Y., & Stark, M. (2017). The pedagogy of discomfort: Enhancing reflectivity on stereotypes and bias. British Journal of Social Work, 47 (3). Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/bjsw/article/47/3/683/2622288

Navigating for Success Lesson 1: Getting acquainted and facilitating learning (2017). Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University.

Seery, M. D., Holman, E. A., & Cohen Silver, R. (2010). Whatever does not kill us; cumulative lifetime adversity, vulnerability, and resilience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99,6. 1025-1041

Torretta, A., & VanderWey, S. (2019). Creating group norms by using full value commitments in experiential education programming. Journal of Extension, 57 (3), 3TOT8. Available at https://www.joe.org/joe/2019june/tt8.php

Treber, M. (2015).  Are there connections between stress and your heart health? The Ohio State University, Live Smart Ohio Blog. Retrieved from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/treber-1osu-edu/are-there-connections-between-stress-and-your-heart-health/

Tugend, A. (2011). Tiptoeing out of one’s comfort zone (and of course, back in). New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/your-money/12shortcuts.html

White, A. (2009). From comfort zone to performance management. Understanding development and performance. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228957278_From_Comfort_Zone_to_Performance_Management

Zembylas, M., (2015). ‘Pedagogy of discomfort’ and its ethical implications: The tensions of ethical violence in social justice education. Ethics and Education 10 (2):163-174.

Extension Educators Partnering with Local FCS Teachers

In Ohio, OSU Extension work is divided by counties across the state. There is not necessarily an FCS Educator in every county. In an attempt to build a stronger working relationship between FCS Extension staff and FCS teachers, this post will “collect” ideas, suggestions and ways to continue to connect and strengthen our work in the community.

2019 Contacts:  Melissa J. Rupp, Fulton County and Patrice Powers-Barker, Lucas County 

photo of hear and connecting with "heart and soul" of FCS, the teachers

Acknowledgements

The current team of FCS Extension Educators in Northwest Ohio designed presentations to share “about” and “how to” organize an annual one day FCS Teacher In-Service. The 2019 team would like to acknowledge and thank all of the former FCS Extension colleagues who started the educational event and kept it going for over 20 years. We think the work they started is worth continuing and worth sharing with newer staff and colleagues.

Previous Presentations and Resources:

  • Ignite presentation at 2019 annual OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences conference on Extension Educators Host Annual Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher In-Service Day, Thursday October 24, 2019.  Coming Soon: Ignite PowerPoint
  • NEAFCS (National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences) annual session 2019 presentation link. 

Extension Celebrates “Dine In” and FCS Day

The goal of this page is to help Extension professional celebrate Dine In Day with their local community. In addition, OSU Extension FCS professional hope to make county, state and national connections to celebrate Dine In and FCS day on December 3rd.

Lucas County Ohiophoto of gnome statue and table settingIf you are looking for information about celebrations in Lucas County, please visit lucas.osu.edu/dineIn and follow The Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County on Facebook.  Share your stories and photos on social media and use the national #FCSday #healthyfamselfie and local #LiveSmartLucas.  In addition, you can follow #LucasTheGnome on our county Extension Facebook page.

 

I'm dining in round logo Extension Colleagues and Community Partners – If you are looking for ideas to lead, coordinate and promote Dine In Day  in your own community, please complete the informal survey below and then visit the Idea Starter Page below. The survey is a short six questions and at the end it will bring you right back to this page. LINK TO SURVEY 

 

This list cannot cover all of the great material available online but it focuses on Cooperative Extension, Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences and national community partners including, but not limited to AAFCS (American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences) and NEAFCS (National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences). This blog is just a starting point from the point-of-view of a county Extension Educator.  For this national celebration, AAFCS coordinates many national partners and collects the list of participants – make sure you and your local partners sign up to be counted and share your story on social media.

Idea Starter Dine In Day

If you’re looking for something easy to hand out at programs, AAFCS has a business card size promo piece for Dine In day.  Use Avery 5371 Business Cards (10 per page) for easy printing.  Print, double sided/flip on short edge. Dine In Day Promo – Business Card

RESOURCES mentioned in IDEA STARTER

The promotion of Dine In Day is a collaborative effort from the local level to the national level. If you have any questions about the information posted on this blog, please email Patrice at powers-barker.1@osu.edu and she will help connect you with the right person at OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. For information on the national celebration, please visit AAFCS at https://www.aafcs.org/fcsday/home

Extension Educators Host Annual Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher In-Service Day

Family and Consumer Sciences staff from Northwest Ohio are pleased to present at the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) 2019 Annual Session in Hershey, PA.

Presentation Description: As one way to connect with local teachers, a team of Extension Educators offer professional development and resource sharing by planning, teaching and evaluating an annual FCS Teacher In-Service Day.

photo of puzzle and quote on collaboration

Additional Information:

2019 Northwest Ohio FCS Teacher In-Service resource list

References:

Abdul-Rahman, F., Jeffcoat Bartley, S. (2013) “’Let’s Talk’: Collaboration between family and consumer sciences extension and teachers”  Journal of Extension. https://joe.org/joe/2013february/rb3.php

American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences https://www.aafcs.org/

Bowers, J. and Myers, L. (2018) “Filling the educator pipeline: National partnership to recruit, prepare and support family and consumer  sciences educators”. Techniques. acteonline.org

Eva, A. (2019). “What happens when we listen to teachers’ stories. Teachers of Oakland wants to change the conversation about  education by humanizing teachers. Greater Good Magazine, Science Based Insights for a Meaningful Life.

Franck, K., Wise, D., Penn, A., & Berry, A. (2017). Preparing future professionals for holistic family and consumer sciences programming. Journal of Extension, 55(6), Article 6FEA4. Available at https://joe.org/joe/2017december

Harder, A., and Zelaya, P. (2017), “Identifying assets associated with quality extension programming a the local level” Journal of Human  Sciences and Extension.

Using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale to Evaluate an Extension Program

The Mindful Wellness team is pleased to present a poster, Ignite and discussion table at the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) 2019 Annual Session in Hershey, PA.

Description: This presentation will share the results of using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale with adult participants of Mindful Wellness, a program designed and taught by Extension Educators.

poster presentation on MAAS

Poster presentation

Handout for discussion table

The last five minutes of the Ignite presentation included a short mindfulness practice adapted from Chris Bergstrom’s Three Senses, Mindfulness Activity for Kids, Teens and Grown-ups.

Resources:

Using Brave Space for the 2019 “Growing Your Comfort Zone” Conference

Many Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) professionals, especially those who teach community nutrition programming like the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) are familiar with the acronym VOICE from Navigating for Success (NFS) by Cornell University.  VOICE is used as a set of guidelines during the NFS staff training as well as for staff to use when teaching nutrition programs in the local community. The VOICE concepts are summarized here:

  • Every participant chooses their comfort level for speaking in front of the group. They will not be called out and they are encouraged to participate in small group discussion.
  • The facilitator will give time for all participants to consider their responses and not rush to the next question.
  • Everyone will work to make the class welcoming for participation as well as letting all participants know what is happening at every given moment.
  • Start and end of time.
  • Encourage one another in class as well as in encouraging one another in ways to approach challenges related to the lesson topics outside of class.

For the 2019 OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences conference, it is recommended that FCS adopts the guidelines of “Brave Space” to balance the conference theme of “Growing Your Comfort Zone”. Why this set of guidelines?

  • Brave space guidelines and VOICE complement one another.
  • Not everyone attending the 2019 FCS conference will have been trained in Navigating for Success. This will offer a common set of guidelines for all conference attendees.
  • Brave space describes “the practice of safely fostering challenging dialogue within the classroom environment” (Ali, 2017). Although brave space has most often been used on campuses and university classrooms, the workshops and lessons at a state-wide conference are designed as professional development with goals of on-going learning like that of a classroom. Since the concept of brave space is related to “service-learning and community engagement programming” (Ali, 2017, p8) it also fits well with outreach and extension.
  • For Extension colleagues who are interested in learning more about brave space, a list of references and links are provided for on-going work and research.

list of 5 brave space elements

“Brave spaces are used today in classroom settings as a mechanism to create supportive environments so that all students may equally participate in challenging dialogue. The creation of brave spaces is never without the risk of discomfort for those participating, but they allow for a more enriching and extensive dialog while simultaneously providing tools of support for those who are most vulnerable. The purpose in providing these tools is to enhance – not detract from – participation and academic growth” (Ali, 2017, p9).  While the conference planning committee doesn’t anticipate that the conference will be difficult or unpleasant, the topic of “growing our comfort zone” could bring up topics and scenarios that are new and possibly uncomfortable.

What are the five elements of brave space?

  1. Controversy with civility
  2. Own your intentions and your impact
  3. Challenge by choice
  4. Respect
  5. No attacks (Aroa & Clemens, 2013)

A brief explanation of the brave space guidelines and how it applies to the Extension workplace, the state FCS conference and professional development.

 Controversy with civility. Varied opinions are accepted.

A common phrase is “agree to disagree.” One problem with this sentiment is that difficult conversations can be brushed off with the idea that, “no one is going to change their mind so why bother having any discussion”? The goal is not necessarily to change opinions or win a debate but to learn and seek understanding of other points of view. Controversy with civility “frames conflict not as something to be avoided but as a natural outcome in a diverse group” (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p144). In addition, the word civility “allows room for strong emotion and rigorous challenge” and that “continued engagement through conflict … strengthens rather than weakens diverse communities” (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p144).

 Owning intentions and impacts. Individuals “acknowledge and discuss instances where a dialogue has affected the emotional well-being of another person” (Ali, 2017, p3).

 Owning your intentions and your impact is a personal responsibility. It doesn’t force responsibility onto others in the way that the dismissive phrase, “don’t take things personally” might. The element of owning intentions and impacts certainly requires self-reflection which also takes time. Owning intentions and impacts isn’t necessarily the default during difficult discussions. It is not uncommon for individuals to have a defensive reaction during uncomfortable experiences. How do you best assess yourself, acknowledge your intentions and how you impact others?

In addition to self-reflection, “communicating effectively helps group members build trust and respect, foster learning and accomplish goals” (Franck Cyr, L. 2004). GroupWorks: Getting things done in groups offers a nice summary of active listening as well as direct, assertive expression. In addition, they address that feelings of anger during conflicts, “can provide information and stimulate energy that can be used positively” and there are productive ways to express and receive anger (Franck Cyr, L., 2004). It is recommended to use communication strategies such as the I-statement or I-language. For example, I feel …. (make a clear statement of how you feel); when ….. (name the specific behavior or situation that caused you to feel that way); because …. (say why the behavior or event is upsetting) (Manage Your Money, 2019). Additional phrases or steps added to I-language include: reflect the other’s perspective and end with either a suggestion or solution such as “can we try ….?”

Challenge by choice. Personal option “to step in and out of challenging conversations” and activities (Ali, 2017, p3).

This phrase has roots in youth experiential education programming and outdoor learning. It acknowledges the individual’s “right to choose the challenge to try something outside his or her comfort zone but to be respected by the facilitator and peers if ultimately deciding not to follow through” (Torretta & VanderWey, 2019). While facilitators respect and recognize that engagement in activities cannot be forced, participants will be encouraged to, “be aware of what factors influence their decisions about whether to challenge themselves on a given issue” and to “think about what keeps them from challenging themselves” (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p. 147).

Respect. “Show respect for one another’s basic personhood” (Ali, 2017, p4).

While this element is easily accepted by most people, Arao and Clemens point out that respect might look and sound different to everyone. Some examples of respect are rooted in culture. One example they gave was the difference between not interrupting someone (in order to show respect) verses other settings and cultural contexts where “interruption and talking over one another is welcome” (2013, p148). Their goal is not to create a consensus of exactly what respect looks and sounds like but to encourage participants to be aware of “the different ways they can demonstrate respectfulness to one another” (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p148). In addition, participants are also encouraged to reflect on “how they might firmly challenge the views of someone else in a respectful manner” (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p148).

No attacks. No intentional harm on one another.

Like respect, most people accept this element as a valuable part of discussion. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to disagree on, “the differences between a personal attack on an individual and a challenge to an individual’s idea or belief or statement that simply makes an individual feel uncomfortable” (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p148). Some examples of attacks are obvious like name calling and should not be used in civil discussion. At the same time, when emotions are involved and the discussion feels heated, statements could easily be misconstrued as attacks when that is not the intention. Arao & Clemens remind participants, “that pointed challenges are not necessarily attacks, but the uncomfortable experience that may result can sometimes lead to a defensive reaction” (2013, p149) (Naden & Stark, 2016) (Zembylas, 2015). This is an example of a moment when it might be beneficial to take a deep breath and review the list of brave space elements. Ask yourself: Is this scenario really an attack or is it an example of controversy with civility? As a participant in this conversation, am I being honest about my intentions and my impact within the discussion?

The goal of brave space is to create “a climate where students are willing to ‘risk honesty’ so that an authentic exchange of ideas becomes possible” (Ali, 2017, p6). Growing our comfort zone might involve some risk but it is encouraged as a calculated risk in order to grow and learn from one another.

 

References:

Ali, D. (2017). Safe spaces and brave spaces: Historical context and recommendations for students affairs professionals. NASPA Policy and Practice Series. Issue 2. Retrieved from: https://www.naspa.org/images/uploads/main/Policy_and_Practice_No_2_Safe_Brave_Spaces_DOWNLOAD.pdf

Arao, B., & Clemens, K. (2013). From safe spaces to brave spaces: A new way to frame dialogue around diversity and social justice. In L. Landreman (Ed.). The art of effective facilitation: Reflections from social justice educators (pp. 135-150). Sterling, VA: Stylus. Retrieved from: https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/inclusive-teaching/wp-content/uploads/sites/355/2016/06/From-Safe-Spaces-to-Brave-Spaces.pdf

Franc Cyr, L. (2004). Bulletin #6103, Effective Communication, GroupWorks: Getting things done in groups. University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/6103e/

Manage Your Money Lesson 1: Getting started (2019). Ohio State University Extension, Retrieved from https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/major-program-areas/healthy-finances/money-management/manage-your-money

Naden, Y., & Stark, M. (2017). The pedagogy of discomfort: Enhancing reflectivity on stereotypes and bias. British Journal of Social Work, 47 (3). Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/bjsw/article/47/3/683/2622288

Navigating for Success Lesson 1: Getting acquainted and facilitating learning (2017). Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University.

Torretta, A., & VanderWey, S. (2019). Creating group norms by using full value commitments in experiential education programming. Journal of Extension, 57 (3), 3TOT8. Available at https://www.joe.org/joe/2019june/tt8.php

Zembylas, M., (2015). ‘Pedagogy of discomfort’ and its ethical implications: The tensions of ethical violence in social justice education. Ethics and Education 10 (2):163-174.

Celebrate the summer bounty of Ohio local foods

These resources are shared as part of a 2019 Your Plan 4 Health webinar  presented by OSU Extension Educators, Melissa J. Rupp and Patrice Powers-Barker. Melissa works in the Fulton County office and Patrice works in the Lucas County office. Need to connect with your local Ohio State University Extension office?  Here’s the list for each county.

tabletop of fresh summer vegetables

Resources shared in the webinar:

Recipe ideas for seasonal, local produce (mentioned in webinar):

The following sites have recipes that are user-friendly for all ages:

Utah State University Extension asks, ” Have you ever wanted to be a person who could walk into the kitchen, look in the pantry and refrigerator, and create a delicious meal out of what you have on hand?” They share a “create” series such as: Create an Omelet, Create a Sandwich or Wrap or Create a Pizza. Check out all their suggestions.