Local highlights

Upcoming Nutrition and Health Education Courses

For more information or to register, contact Angie Lanigan at lanigana@missouri.edu or at 816-482-5850.

Growing and Cooking Vegetables in Your Garden

Practical tips for growing vegetables you can plant in cool weather.  Storage information and new ideas for preparation will also be shared.  Class will include sampling of these vegetables. To register for this class please contact elliottk@missouri.edu or kumarl@missouri.edu .  Register at 816-482-5850.

Cost: Each Session is $10, Location: UM Extension Office, 105 E.5th St., Kansas City, MO 64106

Thursday April 10, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Topic: Growing, Storing, and Preparing Tomatoes and Peppers

Thursday may 8, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Topic: Growing, Storing, and Preparing Green Beans

Quality for Keeps:  Food Preservation

Each workshop will vary, but content will focus on one or more of these topics: preservation method to use for highest quality and safety in home preserved foods; solutions to common canning, freezing and dehydration problems; Hands-on experience with new recipes and sources of the latest research—each workshop will feature different processes and use different produce (chosen by availability). Cost: Each Session is $20, Location: UM Extension Office, 105 E.5th St., Kansas City, MO 64106

Thursday, April 24, 6-8 p.m. Salsa from Your Garden

Thursday, May 22, 6-8 p.m. Pressure Canning Summer Produce

Thursday, June 26, 6-8 p.m. Freezing & Dehydrating Fruit, Veggies, & Jerky

Thursday, July 10, 6-8 p.m. Salsa from Your Garden

Thursday, July 24, 6-8 p.m. Making Fantastic Jams & Jellies

Thursday, August 7, 6-8 p.m. Pressure Canning Summer Produce

Thursday, August 28, 6-8 p.m. Pickling Vegetables & Fruits

Thursday, September 18, 6-8 p.m. Pressure Canning Summer Produce

Classes are $20 each. Contact Angie Lanigan, lanigana@missouri.edu or Karen Elliott, elliottk@missouri.edu or 816-482-5850.

Tai Chi for Arthritis

Tai Chi for Arthritis helps improve flexibility and muscle strength, increase heart/lung activity, align posture, improve balance, and integrate the mind and body.  The Tai Chi for Arthritis program is shown by scientific study to be effective to improve pain, quality of life, and balance.  Almost anyone with or without arthritis, and with almost any physical condition, can learn this program to improve health and quality of life.  It is an easy, safe, effective exercise and supported by many arthritis foundations including the USA. Tai Chi for Arthritis Flyer (PDF)

Tai Chi for Health

Tai Chi for Health is easy to learn for relaxation, strengthening mind and body, and improving health and fitness.  The gentle movements of Tai Chi have been shown to improve coordination, balance, flexibility, muscle strength, and posture. Tai Chi for Health helps create a sense of well-being while facilitating mind/body awareness and reducing stress. Tai Chi for Health Flyer (PDF)

Eating From the Garden

Eating From the Garden's nutrition and gardening program has reached more than 2,500 Jackson County fourth and fifth graders in the past three years. Assisted by 40 adult volunteers, students plant and maintain outdoor vegetable gardens; taste new foods; and participate in nutrition, plant science and environmental awareness lessons. Last year, the program added chef demonstrations in the classroom and developed an EFTG pilot curriculum for second-grade students. Call the extension center for more information on this program and current activities. http://missourifamilies.org/eatfromgarden/

Nutrition Education Resource Center

Jackson County Extension received a $35,000 grant from the Health Care Foundation of Kansas City to develop a nutrition education center in our new offices in the River Market area.  The new center will allow us to provide hands-on nutrition and food preservation classes to encourage the community to eat healthy and be more active.  It will be a great opportunity for us to partner with the City Market to promote the consumption of local, fresh fruits and vegetables. Karen Elliott

Drought info

Facebook community

University of Missouri Extension has created a community page on Facebook for organizations and individuals to share information related to drought, extreme heat and wildfires in Missouri: http://www.facebook.com/MissouriDroughtInfo.

With the serious drought in Missouri, extension specialist Marsha Alexander offers a few tips for preserving water and energy:

Saving water in your bathroom

The current drought our region and state is experiencing not only will result in anticipated higher grocery bills, but also less water for our home use. We all need to conserve as much water as possible. “Studies indicate that most people in our country use 60 to 100 gallons of water per person per day,” says University of Missouri Extension Housing and Environmental Design Specialist Marsha Alexander. Much of the water used in the home is used in the bathroom. Therefore the bathroom is a good place to begin when looking for ways to conserve water.

Leaky toilets can waste many gallons of water and may damage the structure of the home if not quickly repaired. One strategy to determine if you do have a leak is to put a few drops of food dye in the tank. Wait about 15 minutes. If colored water develops in the bowl, there is a leak and it should be promptly repaired.

Older model toilets can use considerably more water per flush compared to the new low-flush models. In fact, older, conventional toilets use up to 44 percent of the total water consumed in the home. If a standard 3.5 gallon toilet is replaced with a 1.6 gallon toilet, the average household can save an average 12,000 gallons of water per year. If purchasing a new toilet, look for products that have the EPA WaterSense label. Models with these labels indicate they have been certified to save 20% or more without sacrificing performance. 

A shower often results in less water usage than a bath, especially a quick one. If you currently do not have a low-flow shower head, install one. 

Other ways to save water use in the bathroom:

Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket. Instead throw your trash in the waste can.

Turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth. Teach your children to do the same.

Insulate hot water pipes to save energy dollars.

Look for products that have the EPA WaterSense label indicating they have been certified to be 20 percent more water efficient than similar products.

Utilizing these ideas can reduce your water bill and help to maintain a more comfortable home for you and your family. Changes we make at home also benefit our communities.

Mid-Winter Home Tune-Up

Your winter heating bill can be an unpleasant surprise as well as a major strain on the household budget.  The costs of monthly utilities are often second only to the mortgage or rent payment.  Space heating accounts for about 45% of the utility costs of a typical home. The extremely cold days we are currently experiencing will most likely result in some very high utility bills. There are strategies you can implement to reduce future utility expenses.

Where should you start?  Knowing heating costs are so significant I suggest you first evaluate potential air leaks in and around your home. Weatherstripping and caulking are relatively inexpensive and can significantly reduce air loss and infiltration. The main goal is to close up all the spaces and cracks where warm air is getting out and cold air is leaking in during the winter months.  Areas to check outside the home include where two building materials meet to form a joint.  For example, inspect where the corners are formed by siding, where the outer walls and foundation meet, where outside faucets, vents, piper or other special breaks occur in the outside surface.  Examine all doors and windows closely for possible air leakage. When you discover a gap, fill it with caulk or weatherstripping depending on the location.

Poorly insulated windows can account for a significant amount of heat loss.  One idea that can help to keep the cold out includes using heavy-duty, clear plastic sheets secured on a frame or taped inside your window frames to reduce drafts.  Another idea is to secure blankets around the window openings to help with the drafts.  Open them during the day to allow for the warming sunlight.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, installing exterior or interior storm windows can reduce heat loss through the windows by 25%-50%.  

Do you know how much insulation you have in your attic?  According to Energy Star, the Kansas City area should have a minimum of R 38 in the attic.  You can get specific insulation recommendations for your particular housing structure at http://energystar.gov

Your heating system should be checked annually by a licensed furnace technician.  Safety is one of the most important reasons you want an annual furnace check. However, a well-tuned furnace uses less fuel.  A checkup can keep you from waking up in the middle of the night to find the house cold because the furnace has stopped working.  Before the heating season, check the filter size of your system and buy replacements to have on hand. During the heating season, check the filter(s) each month and change or clean when dirty. 

Article by Marsha G. Alexander, M.S., H.H.S., Housing and Environmental Design Specialist.

For more information on home maintenance and energy saving strategies utilize the University of Missouri Extension website at http://extension.missouri.edu/