New SNAP-Ed coordinator feels at home on North Coast

05/24/2016  

By Sue Cody

 

Joyce SeniorAfter two months, Joyce Senior, feels at home in Astoria. The Costa Rica native is the SNAP-Ed Outreach Coordinator for the Clatsop County Extension Service. Her role is to reach out and offer education on nutrition and physical activity to low-income residents who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

 

SNAP offers funds to low-income people, through use of an Oregon Trail Card, that is similar to a debit card from a bank. It is what the Department of Human Services uses to get benefits to clients.

 

Senior says she encourages healthy eating within a SNAP budget and an active lifestyle for obesity and disease prevention. Fighting obesity and access to healthy foods are goals set by The Way to Wellville’s Community Wellness team.

 

Senior says her first goal is to build connections and understand the needs of the community.

 

“It has been a whirlwind,” Senior says. She began work on a Tuesday and was invited to judge a 4-H cooking class on that Thursday. She was excited to meet the kids, see the recipes and interact with everyone.

 

SNAP-Ed in Clatsop County

 

SNAP-Ed is a federally funded program administered by the OSU Extension office. Senior’s role is to work with the SNAP audience and offer support for nutritional education and increase the likelihood of healthy eating within a budget. She also advocates for an active lifestyle.

 

Through partnerships, she wants to build relationships with nonprofits, food providers and community members to find opportunities to help low-income people to make healthy choices.

 

Senior recently handed out healthy recipes to participants at the local Thursday Food Bank Fresh truck sponsored by Clatsop Community Action (CCA).

 

“Joyce is personable and fits right in, right now,” says Marlin Martin, head of the CCA Regional Food Bank.

 

Senior also participated in the last of a series of six classes held at the Food Bank. Adults from Helping Hands received cooking instruction from chef Leo Griego. “Because Helping Hands is a client of ours, we focused on food available from the food bank, such as rice, pasta and the fresh fruits and vegetables,” Martin says.

 

“We give them nice nutritional tips. Joyce joined right in. She is wonderful,” Martin says.

 

Senior says she likes the hands-on learning experiences offered at the Food Bank and the North Coast Food Web. She says participants can gain confidence in knowing how to cook with healthy ingredients. She looks forward to the local farmers markets that open at the end of June, where she plans to have Food Hero demonstrations.

 

“Being at a desk in an office is not my thing,” Senior says. She prefers to be out interacting with people, sharing samples of food and recipes.

 

OSU Extension started the Food Hero initiative on its website. It offers recipes that are healthy, quick and tasty, along with helpful hints. Recipes range from peanut butter cereal bars or breakfast banana splits to roasted vegetables, scones, soups and enchiladas. For recipes and information, visit www.foodhero.org.

 

Background

 

Senior grew up in Costa Rica and received a bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition there. To continue her education, she applied to Clemson University, which has partnerships with Latin American universities. She thought she would spend two years getting a master’s degree and return home.

 

But after being in South Carolina for a year, she decided to stay and pursue a Ph.D. in Food Technology. She wrote her dissertation on healthy eating for African American women, and graduated in December.

 

Senior began looking at jobs in January 2015, and visited a roommate who had secured a job in Hillsboro last July. “I fell in love with Oregon. I knew I needed to be here,” Senior says. “I rerouted my job search.”

 

Her friend encouraged her to look at the Oregon State University website, where she saw the posting for the SNAP-Ed Outreach Coordinator position. She received an offer in January and began work in Astoria on March 1.

 

“This is the perfect community to start my career,” Senior says. “I feel like I have an instant family.

 

“I always wanted to live near the ocean and that kind of lifestyle,” she says.

 

For information on SNAP eligibility, visit 211 info, or dial 211, a statewide social service database.

 

Current Guidelines
You may be able to get SNAP if your income does not exceed:

Household Size

Monthly Income

1

$1815

2

$2456

3

$3097

4

$3739

5

$4380

6

$5021

7

$5663

8

$6304