By Nancy Gutierrez

Residents of Strathmore and Lindsay are invited to Foodlink's Nutrition On the Go program at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 17 at Strathmore Healthy Start.

The two-hour program will bring hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables to town to help teach residents about nutrition and healthy foods.

"We take fruits and vegetable to rural areas for people who have a bit of a challenge getting to the grocery store," said Paula Cibrian, Nutrition On the Go program director and nutrition advocate at Foodlink. "People in these areas usually buy long-term, nonperishable foods, not fruits and vegetables."

Foodlink has taken it upon themselves to provide fresh produce and nutrition education to Strathmore, Woodlake, Farmersville, Ivanhoe, London, Delft Colony, Goshen and Orosi. Also included in the program are cooking demonstrations, assistance with food stamp applications and screenings for diabetes and other diseases.

"We're trying to combat what's going on in Tulare County with Type 2 diabetes and obesity," Cibrian said.

The program will also test kids for iron deficiencies and provide them with first aid kits. Participants get to sample food items and are given recipes using the fruits and vegetables grown locally. Foodlink will send families home with 25-30 pounds of produce at the event's conclusion. This will be the first Nutrition On the Go program in Strathmore, but the Healthy Start Director there, Isidro Silva Jr., said they have been distributing food to 80-120 families once a month for the past six months.

"The goal is to have families introduce fruits and vegetable to their children," Silva said. "There are certain vegetable that our families are not used to, like brussels sprouts. It's a way to introduce these vegetables at a young age so that they will continue to eat them into adulthood."

At each event there are English and Spanish speaking volunteers. Cibrian said the event is has a carnival-like atmosphere.

"It's a cross between a Farmers Market and a health fair," Cibrian said. "There is music playing and we give out balloons. The amount of service providers participating in the community event is growing. There's CSET, county prevention services, the U.C. extension sends someone."

The event will be held at the Strathmore Healthy Start located at 22898 Ave. 198, near the middle school. Cibrian said community volunteers are a key component to a successful program. There are close to 10 core volunteers in Strathmore. Nutrition On the Go helps create an environment where community members are helping community members. Cibrian encourages everyone to attend.

"There is no qualifying system," Cibrian said. "They just need to sign in for our records. It is a great venue for people and organizations serving lower income families."

Other supporters of Nutrition On the Go include, Family healthcare network, Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency and Rotary International. A total of 12 have ben conducted with close to 200 participants.

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