LSU AgCenter agents are offering iNutrition classes in 18 parishes where broadband Internet access is underused. This is part of the AgCenter’s Connect My Louisiana, a four-year project designed to show the benefits of adopting broadband technology in business, education, health care and other aspects of economic activity in Louisiana.
“Everyone eats, so this is a way to get them in,” said Valerie Vincent, an AgCenter extension agent and one of the Connect My Louisiana coordinators. “They may be intimidated by an Internet class, but they will come for a nutrition class.”
The hour-long session takes participants through a U.S. Department of Agriculture website called ChooseMyPlate.gov. There they learn about tools available to help visitors eat better and manage weight.
As they are guided through the ChooseMyPlate.gov site, students in the class have the opportunity to set up an email address, create a profile and become familiar with using the Internet.
“By setting up a profile on MyPlate, they can use the site’s SuperTracker feature, which allows them to track their food intake and physical activities,” Vincent said, adding that this also gives them experience in working on the Web.
SuperTracker is free and allows users to track water or vitamin intake and track what they eat according to food groups, Vincent added. It’s similar to other food-tracking sites or apps that cost money to join or download.
Vincent said about a 35 percent of the people who have participated in the iNutrition classes had never seen the MyPlate icon before. Others had seen it but did not know what it was. Close to 75 percent said they may use or would use the interactive tools on the MyPlate website in the future.
Vincent said participating in the iNutrition classes prompted some to sign up for other Connect My Louisiana classes, such as Introduction to Tablets or Using Social Media for Business or Personal Life.
Approximately 20 percent of the individuals taking Connect My Louisiana classes do not have Internet access in their homes. The initiative covers 18 parishes that were identified as having low rates of broadband Internet use.
The parishes include Allen, Avoyelles, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Franklin, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Madison, Morehouse, Pointe Coupee, Richland, St. Helena, Tensas, Washington and West Carroll.