Healthy Communities for a Healthier Assumption Parish

Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

The Assumption Parish Healthy Community Initiative, “Get Fit Ba-You,” is in full swing. Members of the work group include members from Assumption Community Hospital, Assumption Parish School System, Assumption Parish Police Jury and the local community. The group has been actively involved in creating collaborative, innovative ways to build a healthier Assumption Parish. The walking path at the hospital has been poured and walkers have been actively engaged in using it to increase their physical activity level. This paved walking area has been created with funds obtained by the hospital through a Franciscan Mission Fund Grant. Robin Landry, LSU AgCenter Area Nutrition Agent, applied for and received a grant through the LSU AgCenter Healthy Communities Initiative that will create a more appealingly and usable walking area for the hospital walking path as well as for other walking areas of the parish. Plans are to create a few sitting areas, landscaping and other amenities to enhance the path area that will create a multi-use space. Landry is collaborating other Assumption AgCenter agents to assist with the project. Assumption Parish 4-H Agent, Margo Castro and her Junior Leaders, who will help in planning the ground breaking event for the official opening of the walking area, planting and assisting with upkeep of the beds. Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent Mariah Simoneaux will provide her expertise in the area of horticulture in selecting and planting the plants. Landry has engaged the help of Assumption High School’s Ag Leadership class, taught by David Carlino, to construct benches and help landscape the area. Carlino and his class have worked with Landry in the past on other school garden projects including Belle Rose Primary, Pierre Part Primary and Bayou L’Ourse Primary.

Another level of the project of the Healthy Communities Initiative involves Assumption Parish middle school students. Landry coordinated the project with the help of Assumption Parish Superintendent Earl Martinez, Director of Middle School Instruction Damian Buggage, and middle school principals Wanda Templet, Iris Breaux, Corey Crochet, and Shawn Preston. The students recently took part in 3 weeks of nutrition lessons provided by Landry and that were conducted by the P.E. teachers. Teachers taking part were Christie Cavalier and Jason Johnson (Pierre Part), Will Carter (Belle Rose), Felicia Moore, Brandy Marroy and Krissie Talbot (Labadieville) and Shawn Stevenson and Brychanna Williams (Napoleonville). Lessons were adapted from the USDA Team Nutrition Curriculum, “Serving Up MyPlate” and met the benchmarks for health in accordance with state requirements for middle schools. Along with the curriculum, teachers were provided with lesson plans, resources and supplemental aids, student handouts, and parent take home letters.

Students were given a pre survey to assess their prior knowledge and then a follow-up post survey to evaluate knowledge gained through the lessons. They were treated to food tastings that included comparing multi-grain tortilla scoops to regular scoops and a final tasting of Black Bean Salsa using the multi-grain scoops. Students were amazed at how the multi-grain scoops tasted and preferred them to the regular. The Black Bean Salsa was prepared with help from the Assumption Community Hospital. The hospital graciously allowed the use of their kitchen for preparing the salsa. Staff members helped with making the 1110 serving ½ cup servings for the students as well as providing samples for the teachers at the participating schools. They also delivered the samples to the schools on the day of the salsa tasting. Funds used to purchase the foods came by way of an Entergy grant “Southeast We Power Life”. Deanna Lafont with Entergy contacted Landry about this grant opportunity two years ago and Assumption Parish has received one of these grants for the second year.

Healthy Communities is an ongoing initiative of the LSU AgCenter across the state. Area nutrition agents are working with local agencies, organizations and communities to build healthier Louisiana citizens. If you would like to learn more about this initiative and how you can get involved, contact LSU AgCenter Area Nutrition Agent Robin Landry by calling 985-369-6386 or emailing

Contributed by the LSU AgCenter