Karla Case

Karla Case, pictured Wednesday in her kitchen classroom at the University of Wyoming Extension in Casper, is the Natrona County coordinator for the Cent$ible Nutrition program. The low-income nutrition education program covers everything from healthy eating to how to maximize a food budget.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

Karla Case has been the coordinator for the Cent$ible Nutrition program in Natrona County for 11 years. The federally funded low-income nutrition education program is run by the University of Wyoming Extension and is available in all of Wyoming’s counties.

Who is the program geared to help? The original idea was for those who get food stamp benefits, to get them to use them in a more healthy way and be able to have those food stamps last longer. It’s expanded now a little bit to also learn more about nutrition. That’s why classes are all hands-on cooking and that way they save money and eat healthier. A big part is teaching them about food shopping and how to spend their money more wisely at the grocery store.

How is this done? It’s a series of about seven or eight classes. Each week is a different topic, each class lasts about 90 minutes, half of which is in the foods lab. We do the series of classes four or five times a year, and the next set starts Sept. 19. We offer an afternoon set and an evening set on the same day, so they can choose which time works best for them. In addition to the classes here at our offices, we also have an outreach component that goes to Seton House, the rescue mission, Central Wyoming Counseling Center and low-income apartment complexes. We do some one-time programs also. We have youth programming in eight Title I schools in the district, targeting second and third graders. That program is called Marty Moose, and we’ll take a week and go in all five days of a week. We teach them about nutrition and instead of cooking with them, we bring in food samples of new, nutritious food for them to try.

How can folks become involved? It’s open to the public and free for those who qualify. I just don’t think enough people know about it. It’s such a cool resource, especially for those who are struggling to make ends meet. We want to see people eat more at home, less at fast food and buying a lot of junk food. We have an updated cookbook that has recipes and a lot of good information about nutrition and cooking. That’s a reinforcement item, along with measuring cups, measuring spoons, a cutting board and kitchen gadgets, to keep them coming to every class.

How do people sign up? In Natrona County, they can call our office at 235-9400, or go on the website, www.uwyo.edu/CNP, to check whether or not they qualify for a free class. There is a lot of good information on there too about nutrition. They can also look to see who to contact in their county if they’re not in Natrona County.

What is your favorite Cent$ible Nutrition recipe? I would have to say the master mix baking mix. You make it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. It saves you tons of time. You use the same basic mix to make muffins, banana bread, pizza dough, cookies, anything baked it makes. Seriously the class is about saving time, and you’re much more likely to cook at home if it doesn’t take long to do, and it just doesn’t.

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS

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