08/09/20: Lee County Empowering Youth and Families Program (EYFP) will get cooking when their families begin participating in a free virtual cooking school called Cook Smart, Eat Smart. Lee County’s Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Alyssa Anderson recently tried out this virtual learning opportunity which aims to help families try out new recipes and expand their knowledge of cooking. Cook Smart, Eat Smart consists of four sessions offered through computer or phone that teach simple techniques on how to prepare healthy and cost effective food using different tools found in the kitchen. After hearing about Alyssa’s experience, many EYFP families were eager to try out one of the sessions themselves to see what new skills they could learn. Some are already familiar with cooking basics and are participating simply for the joy of cooking, but many others are more excited by the chance to reconnect with others in the EYFP program whom they have not seen due to social distancing. There is nothing better for building community than getting to prepare and eat a delicious meal with family and friends.
In Yancey County, as in many other counties across North Carolina, school is starting up again and the unique circumstances of 2020 have most parents and caregivers rushing around trying to decide the best option, be it in-person or virtual learning. The families of Yancey County EYFP are no different as they weigh the pros and cons of going back to school, round up school supplies, and simply try to navigate this “new normal.” The month of August is traditionally celebrated as Back to School Month, but Yancey County EYFP is celebrating a different theme: National Family Fun Month. Families participating in this month-long holiday are clearing out a slot in their soon-to-be hectic schedules for family fun and bonding time. Some of the benefits for youth that come from spending more time with family include improved academic performance, lower chance of developing behavioral problems, lesser risk of substance misuse, development of positive parenting skills they will use in the future, and stronger bonds with family. According to the Center for the Study of Social Policy, all of these benefits are directly tied to five protective factors, characteristics that have been shown to make positive outcomes more likely for youth and their caregivers and reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect. The pandemic has made typically routine things like returning to school more uncertain, and Yancey County families agree some of the decisions they will have to make will not be easy. Still, in spite of all the bustle of school, fall sports, and other programs, they will make sure to schedule in some fun family time and not forget that something as simple as cooking a meal and sitting down at the table together or planning a weekend trip can have a great positive impact.