Extension leader honored for work in national nutrition program

PULLMAN – Linda Kirk Fox, associate vice president and dean of WSU Extension, has been named a national “hero” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program for her work as co-chair of the EFNEP Task Force.

Connie Strode-Castor, an Extension educator who has provided nutrition education to low income families in Spokane since 1986, was selected as Washington state’s winner in the EFNEP paraprofessional educator category.

Founded in 1969, EFNEP is designed to help provide low-income families with what they need to build nutritionally sound diets and to contribute to their personal development and the improvement of the total family diet and nutritional well-being. The program celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Both Fox’s and Strode-Castor’s awards will be presented March 9, in Washington D.C. as part of that celebration.

“Dean Fox’s commitment to the EFNEP program has made a significant impact on the success of the program,” said Karen Barale, Washington state EFNEP coordinator. “She prioritizes supplemental state support that allows us to provide strong programming that improves the quality of life for many families in our communities.”

Fox’s work with the organization has focused on widening access to the program. A task force member from 2002 to 2007, she served as co-chair for the last four years of her term. She was instrumental in developing language for the U.S. Farm Bill insuring eligibility and minimum base funding for EFNEP for land-grant colleges created in 1890, which are traditionally black colleges. She also led the effort that resulted in EFNEP federal funding increasing from $52 million to $65.8 million.

Strode-Castor is being recognized for her years of service to low-income families in the Spokane area, Barale said, specifically those of people who have been in prison.

“Connie is gifted at working with people who have been incarcerated and are transitioning back into local communities,” said Karen Dickson, senior Extension coordinator for the Spokane County Extension Food Sense program. “She understands the needs of her clientele and the challenges of a living a healthy life. She builds her clients’ self confidence and food preparation skills through group cooking and nutrition education classes that are offered at the local criminal justice center.”

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