Our Story: Latinos Living Well

Sarah Francis, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition associate professor and State Human Sciences Extension and Outreach Specialist, created a program that offers free classes to help Iowa\'s Latino population learn to control and possibly prevent diabetes.

A little exercise, a little cooking, some education about diabetes and a lot of fun: That’s the recipe for “Latinos Living Well,” a research and community based program that leads to behavior change. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offers the free classes to help Iowa’s Latino population learn to control and perhaps even prevent diabetes, a disease for which they are at high risk.

ISU Extension and Outreach has been providing diabetes education for over a decade, but targeting this education to Latinos is a new push, said Sarah Francis, an associate professor and a nutrition and wellness state specialist. And it involves more than merely translating an English curriculum into Spanish. The education is based on the needs and preferences of Latinos.

“We needed to understand their motivators and barriers toward diabetes self-management, as well as their food preferences, so that we could design a program that they would be able to relate to and that would be relevant to their life style,” Francis said.

As a result, “Latinos Living Well” is a diabetes prevention, cooking and nutrition program designed specifically for Latinos living in Iowa, said Mary Krisco, one of the extension human sciences specialists who teach the classes throughout the state.

“We include in that definition people who are perhaps recent immigrants from Latin America or Mexico, or could be first, second or third generation descendants of people who come from those countries,” said Krisco, who specializes in nutrition and wellness.

Making changes every week
“Latinos Living Well” meets two hours per week for four weeks. This schedule is based on research showing that eight hours or more of diabetes education lead to lifestyle changes, knowledge gains and increased self-confidence to change personal behavior, Francis said.

“One of the things people really need when they have a diabetes diagnosis or they fear a diabetes diagnosis, is some hope that living with diabetes is not going to be awful – that they can still eat good food, and they can still have a good time,” Krisco said.

In the classes Latinos can experiment with recipes from their culture that taste good to them and would taste good to their families.

“We try out several recipes a week. People get a kick out of preparing these meals themselves. That’s the only way to find out whether healthy cooking is for you. Can you do it, and when you taste it, does it taste OK? So we do a lot of tasting and comparing,” Krisco said.

“What we’re asking people to do is consider filling more of your plate with low carbohydrate fruits and vegetables, lots of greens, lots of salads, lots of vegetable dishes. That’s the major lifestyle change. But the second one that’s pretty hard to do, especially for older people, is getting 30 minutes of active physical exercise every day,” Krisco said.

“At each class we also do a little exercise and we talk about the importance of planning to fit more physical exercise into a person’s day. Because that’s really important for diabetes prevention,” she said.

“We also teach shopping skills, most particularly, label reading, because we want people to be aware of how many carbohydrates and how many carbohydrate exchanges are in each portion of a food that they buy,” Krisco added.

Reaching all ages
The target audience for “Latinos Living Well” is any adult of Latino descent who is concerned about diabetes prevention or about living with diabetes.

“We have people who are trying hard to live with diabetes, and that’s a big challenge. Once you do have diabetes there still is a whole lot of good in learning how to change eating habits and increase your physical activity. Because if you have diabetes and you don’t take good care of yourself, you can end up with some devastating complications, like kidney disease, blindness or amputations,” Krisco said.

“We have pre-diabetics in our class – people who are beginning to have abnormal glucose levels. They have a chance to stop the disease and reverse it,” she continued.

“I’ve had young people in the class who aren’t even out of college yet, but they’re concerned about it because their grandparents are struggling with diabetes. They want to know how they can help their grandparents. Some of them have parents who are struggling with it. The young people love this idea that they can change eating habits now and avoid a problem way far down the road. Younger people are more likely to have heard that among Latinos the risk for diabetes is higher than it is for non-Latinos,” Krisco said.

Diabetes is not only an issue for Latino individuals, it’s also an issue for their communities, Krisco noted.

“This is one thing we talk about in class. How do we plan our community events? How do we plan our parties? We want to be able to offer healthy choices to our families and to our neighbors when we get together for fiestas, because just like everybody else, Latinos can sometimes get over-dependent on extra-sweet things for celebrations,” Krisco said.

“Most of our students have been like ‘this is great stuff, I’m glad you came along, I’m going to tell my friends about this.’ And of course, as a teacher, that’s what you want,” Krisco said.

Educating a growing population
Iowa’s Latino population is the fastest growing demographic in the state, and Latinos are at higher risk of developing diabetes than any other underrepresented minority group, Francis noted.

“Currently in the U.S., nearly 13 percent of Latinos are diagnosed with diabetes, compared to about 8 percent of non-Latino whites. Rural residing adults have more than 8 percent higher likelihood of being diagnosed with diabetes, compared to urban adults,” Francis said.

“If ISU Extension and Outreach was not providing free diabetes education for rural-residing Latinos, then the prevalence of diabetes and the consequences of undiagnosed diabetes would continue to rise in those underserved areas of our state. ‘Latinos Living Well’ provides rural residing Latinos with research-based education on the lifestyle changes that can lower the risk of developing diabetes and/or lower the severity of diabetes if they currently have it. This will lead to improved quality of life and reduced health care costs later on,” Francis said.

“It’s important for the future of Iowa. We want to have healthy Iowans who can cook healthy foods,” Krisco added.

ISU Extension and Outreach offers “Latinos Living Well” with USDA funding through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Rural Health and Safety Education Grant. The grant’s primary purpose is to improve the lives of community members through research based, community-based interventions that lead to behavior change.

Sarah Francis, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, 515-294-1456, slfranci@iastate.edu
Mary Krisco, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, 515-957-5787, mkrisco@iastate.edu

Writer: Laura Sternweis, Advancement, 515-294-0775, lsternwe@iastate.edu

Technology developed by food science professor, research associate receives award

A vegetable oil-based material developed by Tao Fei and Dr. Tong Wang of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition was chosen to receive the National Innovation Award. Their product serves as a substitute for carnauba wax, which is found in many household products, foods and cosmetics.

Two Iowa State researchers have created a cheaper alternative to a popular wax.

Iowa State alumna honored for 4-H service

Allie Lansman, right, pictured with her mom, Angela, was presented the Outstanding Young Alum award by the Iowa 4-H Foundation. Lansman is a 2016 Iowa State University graduate in dietetics, currently on the path to become a registered dietitian. Contributed photo

On the path to become a registered dietitian, one Iowa State University alumna has stuck to her 4-H roots.

Allie Lansman (’16 dietetics) was presented the Outstanding Young Alum award, given by the Iowa 4-H Foundation at the 2017 Iowa 4-H Legacy Awards Gala.

North Central Region Center for Food Safety Modernization Act Training– one year in the books

The mission of the North Central Region Center for Food Safety Modernization Act Training is to teach farmers and producers ways they can prevent food borne illnesses while growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables. Contributed photo

With one year under its belt, the North Central Region Center for Food Safety Modernization Act Training (NCR FSMA) has made steady progress.

Classroom assignments have real world impact for Iowa State alumna

The classes Abby Shimon, \'16 nutritional science, took at Iowa State University are proving beneficial in her current role as an extension assistant for the Nutrition Education Program at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Contributed photo

Less than one year after her graduation from Iowa State University, one alumna already is seeing the impact of the college classes she took.

Food science student headed to Yale

Dan Tarte, a senior double majoring in food science and genetics, will be headed to Yale University after graduating from Iowa State in May. Photo by Whitney Sager

Dan Tarte, a senior double majoring in food science and genetics, has been accepted at Yale University to pursue a Ph.D. in molecular biology.

Iowa State students place at flexible packaging competition

Zenia Adiwijaya and Nathan Davis received honorable mention and second place, respectably, at the 2017 Student Flexible Design Challenge. They are pictured with Dr. Keith Vorst, instructor of the class in which the students were assigned to create their flexible packaging designs. Photo by Whitney Sager

What started out as a class assignment ended with two Iowa State University students earning top honors at a national competition.

College of Human Sciences students gain workplace readiness skills at etiquette dinner

Natasha Gomez, a junior in kinesiology and health, and more than 50 of her peers practiced their poise during a recent etiquette dinner at Iowa State. Photo by Ryan Riley.

Human Sciences students are making strides in their career preparation that would make etiquette expert Emily Post proud.

More than 50 students participated Thursday in an etiquette dinner, a collaboration between the college’s career services office and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Student guests represented every College of Human Sciences department and school.

“Multiple alumni have come back saying they had interviews over dinner,” said Caitlyn Greenspan, a senior in athletic training. “I had no experience with professional dinners, so I wanted to gain some valuable skills in that regard.”

Students were treated to a free 30-minute lesson and formal meal in the Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom during its spring dinner hours. The event allowed them to attend a “dress-up” affair in a supportive environment and practice their newly gained knowledge among their peers.

Tammy Stegman, the director of the College of Human Sciences’ career services office, said that the dinner is just one way that the college develops global citizens and a strong workforce by helping students present themselves in a professional manner.

“We work with students at all levels — it’s our job and our mission,” Stegman said. “It’s all under the realm of developing yourself professionally. That doesn’t just mean résumés or interview preparation, or negotiating a job offer. It means also presenting yourself professionally and not embarrassing yourself.”

Ardyce “Ardie” Roehr, a 1957 graduate in home economics education who led the lesson, stressed the importance of a professional presentation. She’s a former executive director of the Iowa Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

“Ardie understands the stage where college students are,” said Erica Beirman, a senior lecturer in food science and human nutrition who coordinates the culinary food science program. “She understands their natural lack of experience with formal business settings — so she relates everything back to an interview or a professional networking gathering.”

Roehr said that a person’s poise at a meal is indicative of other character qualities.

“Body language can often speak louder than actual words,” Roehr said. “How you conduct yourself while eating can also share how you might work as a team player or how you might serve others.”

Sophomore nutritional science major Toluwani Awokoya said that one’s qualifications for a job only go so far, and that first impressions count.

“It is really important for students to take advantage of programs such as this to prepare themselves for future careers,” he said. “Even though you might have really good qualifications, etiquette can play a big role in job selection. You don’t want it to take away from your scholarly achievements. First impressions go a long way.”

Matt Ocheltree, a senior in hospitality management, has seen the importance of strong etiquette skills firsthand during his work experiences at the Iowa State president’s residence.

“I work at The Knoll, so I have knowledge about serving in a fine dining environment and using proper etiquette,” he said. “It’s all about professionalism. I’m soon to be an ISU alumnus and I want to present myself as a business professional when the opportunity arises.”

Attending a low-pressure, yet formal event with friends can open the door into the career services office for some students. Amanda Schickel, the College of Human Sciences recruiting and career coordinator, said that some students are more comfortable with people they know.

“At the dinner, students could come with their friends,” she said. “During appointments with us, they come meet with us one-on-one — which is great for them, but it can be a little more intimidating. Participating in an event like this with a group of people makes some students more comfortable.”

Natasha Gomez, a junior in kinesiology and health, said she is thankful for all of the opportunities the career services office provides.

“Career services programs are a great way to get involved with your college,” she said. “They also teach such valuable skills that you might not get to learn in any college classes.”

Tammy Stegman, career services director, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, 515-294-3708, tstegman@iastate.edu

Erica Beirman, senior lecturer, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-4361, ebeirman@iastate.edu

Amanda Schickel, career services recruiting and career coordinator, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, 515-294-0626, schickel@iastate.edu

Ardyce “Ardie” Roehr, graduate in home economics education, Iowa State University, daroehr@msn.com

Caitlyn Greenspan, senior in athletic training, Iowa State University, caitlyng@iastate.edu

Toluwani Awokoya, sophomore in nutritional science, Iowa State University, tawokoya@iastate.edu

Matt Ocheltree, senior in hospitality management, Iowa State University, mao@iastate.edu

Natasha Gomez, junior in kinesiology and health, Iowa State University, negomez@iastate.edu

Kent Davis, communications specialist, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, 515-294-1326, davisk@iastate.edu

Human sciences students spend their spring break serving others

Iowa State students who worked last week with Harvest Farm in Wellington, Colorado were among 16 from the College of Human Sciences who spent their spring break doing service projects through Alternative Breaks. Contributed photos.

Sixteen College of Human Sciences students, including one from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, were among 59 from Iowa State University who spent their spring break doing service projects aimed at helping those in need.

Through the university’s Alternative Breaks program, students engaged in service learning in six states by working with children and animals, preparing meals, helping to renovate homes, and rebuilding trails and habitats.

This year’s trips took teams of students to Colorado, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Georgia, and Louisiana.

All six graduate site leaders of the trips — Alexa Bueltel, Ricky Calderon, Amanda Oller, Morgan Sanders, Lindsey Sheets, and Alex Young — are graduate assistants in the School of Education.

“I have always had a passion for service learning and want to be able to share my passion with other ISU students and see the impact this experience has on them,” Bueltel said.

Working on the farm in Coloradoalt-spring-break-trip-colorado-cropped
Five human sciences students — Bueltel and Dawn Thompson in education, Hannah Zulk and Zach Kaufman in kinesiology and health, and Megan Slattery in nutritional science — were among those who traveled to Wellington, Colorado.

There, they worked with Harvest Farm, a 209-acre farm and nationally recognized rehabilitation program that provides jobs and housing for those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. The farm accommodates up to 72 men who participate in a long-term program with the goal of breaking the cycles of addiction and homelessness.

“This facility takes in men who are struggling with addiction and they go through a step-by-step program to lead them back on the right track,” Bueltel said.

The Iowa State team worked on the falt-spring-break-trip-colorado1-croppedarm, prepared meals, and worked on restoration projects and upkeep. They also interacted with the men living there, listened to their stories, and heard about their future goals.

“I’m coming back more educated on addiction and the impact it has on individual lives,” said Zulk, a sophomore in kinesiology. “I hope to incorporate these experiences into my future work as a doctor and know that the world is so much bigger than me and my problems.”

Rebuilding homes and trails, working with youth and animals
Young and Anna Ferris, a junior in elementary education, worked with animals at the Kansas Humane Society in Wichita, Kansas. They walked dogs, socialized with cats, cleaned kennels, helped to repair facilities, and assisted with group classes.

“I helped the team to make decisions, work together, and build leadership skills,” said Young, the graduate site leader. “The trip also provided reflection opportunities on the importance of service.”

Sanders led a team to Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia, where students rebuilt trails and did park maintenance.

“I love the outdoors and wanted to do something to give back to state parks,” Sanders said. “The work we did on this trip was trail rehabilitation, which aids hikers like me continue to do what we love.”

Four human sciences students — Calderon, along with Kylee Joiner in kinesiology and health, Mary Tong in hospitality management, and Amber Ford in elementary education — were among those who traveled to Eagle Butte, South Dakota.

There, they worked with the Cheyenne River Youth Project, an organization that provides care, support, and education to youth on a Native American reservation. The Iowa State students helped with after-school care and cenalt-spring-break-trip-southdakota8-croppedter upkeep, and presented information on the college admissions process.

Adriane Frauenholtz and Trisha Langenfeld, both undergraduates in child, adult, and family services, were in the group working with Rebuilding Together in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The organization helps to rebuild and renovate homes of those in need. Students stayed in a church in Wilkinsburg and spent the week boarding up a house, plastering another, and drylocking a basement.

“I’ve learned so much from the Alternative Breaks I have been on,” said Frauenholtz, a junior who previously went on the Colorado trip and served as a site leader this year for the Pennsylvania trip. “I believe I will be able to take my experiences to help benefit others in the future.”

Preparing for careers working with peoplealt-spring-break-trip-colorado16-cropped
The Alternative Breaks program at Iowa State began in 2008. For the past decade, teams of students have spent their spring and winter breaks traveling to other states to perform short-term projects for community agencies, and to learn about various social issues.

Human sciences students on this year’s Alternative Breaks — whose career goals include becoming teachers, physical therapists, coaches, doctors, substance abuse counselors, and hospice workers — all said the experience will help prepare them for their future careers working with people.

“I think anytime I have the chance to work with other people, compromise, be challenged, and live outside of my comfort zone, it grows my character and will help me instill the importance of service to my future students,” said Thompson, a senior who hopes to become an elementary school teacher.

“I believe it’s critical for doctors to not only be knowledgeable about the human body and the various systems of the body, but to also have the skills and communication to create an atmosphere that their patients feel comfortable in; basically, good bedside manners,” said Slattery, a sophomore in nutritional science who plans to attend medical school to become a family physician.

The practical, global, and leadership experiences provided by Alternative Breaks and other service learning projects contribute to the social good and improve the quality of life of others. They also help Iowa State students become more well-rounded citizens who are exceptionally prepared to lead in a global society and make a difference around the world.

“After graduation, I plan on going into the Peace Corps,” said Langenfeld, a sophomore in child, adult, and family services who was on the Pennsylvania trip. “It has been my dream for a few years now and I know that serving in Alternative Breaks will help prepare me for serving in another country. Alternative Breaks is just a smaller scale of exactly what I want to do with my life.”


Amanda Oller, service programs graduate assistant, Student Activities Center, Iowa State University, aoller@iastate.edu

Alexa Bueltel, graduate student in higher education-student affairs, School of Education, Iowa State University, 515-294-3265, abueltel@iastate.edu

Alex Young, graduate student in the School of Education, Iowa State University, 515-294-4821, hialex@iastate.edu

Ricky Calederon, graduate student in the School of Education, 515-294-3265, calderor@iastate.edu

Megan Slattery, sophomore in nutritional science, Iowa State University, megans96@iastate.edu

Hannah Zulk, sophomore in kinesiology and health, Iowa State University, hzulk@iastate.edu

Dawn Thompson, senior in elementary education, Iowa State University, dawnt@iastate.edu

Zachariah Kaufman, sophomore in the pre-physical therapy option of kinesiology and health, Iowa State University, zkaufman@iastate.edu

Trisha Langenfeld, sophomore in child, adult, and family services; Iowa State University, trishal@iastate.edu

Morgan Sanders, graduate student in higher education student affairs, School of Education, Iowa State University, 515-294-6624, sandersm@iastate.edu

Adriane Frauenholtz, junior in child, adult, and family services; Iowa State University, adrianef@iastate.edu

Lynn Campbell, communications specialist, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, 515-294-3689, lynnc@iastate.edu

Human Sciences students form campus clubs to increase Alzheimer’s disease awareness

Joe Webb and Hannah Chute, founders of Iowa State Alzheimer’s-related clubs, educate others about Alzheimer’s disease research and caregiver support. Photo by Ryan Riley.

Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease. However, students within the College of Human Sciences are working to bring healing and hope to persons affected by Alzheimer’s, and to raise awareness for battling the disease.

  • Tools