Clearing Up Coronavirus Confusion

There’s a lot of coronavirus confusion out there. From news reports and press conferences to social media and rumors, your clients, employees, and students are constantly exposed to new and sometimes conflicting information.

You can help clear up this confusion by sharing accurate, science-based information about the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve done the work for you with our new COVID-19 PowerPoint show with handouts. By learning the basics about the pandemic, we hope people will be better informed, stay safe, and even take steps to improve their health.

Here’s a sample of some of the many questions people are asking about the pandemic. Use them as a starting point for clearing up coronavirus confusion:

How can I stay safe? First and foremost, reiterate what everyone has been hearing about handwashing, wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home when you’re sick. See all of the CDC’s prevention tips here.

How can I strengthen my immune system? This is a common question and many people are looking for a quick answer. Spoiler alert — there is none. But they can take this three-pronged approach to support good health and prevent chronic diseases:

  1. Eat a healthy diet that’s plant based, with plenty of fiber (MyPlate is always a good way to teach this!).
  2. Exercise at least 2.5 hours/week for adults (find more guidelines and the Move Your Way campaign here).
  3. Sleep well (see CDC tips here).

Can I go out? People are tired of staying home. As they see businesses opening up, they’ll want to get out more. But for some high-risk groups, this isn’t a good idea. Older adults and people who have certain underlying medical conditions need to take extra precautions. If you’re not high-risk, look out for those most vulnerable to COVID-19 by helping them with errands and wearing a mask. (Get the facts here.)

Do I have coronavirus? While you shouldn’t hesitate to call 911 when necessary, the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker can help you figure out if you need to call your doctor to see about being tested.

As professionals, let’s keep the positive, science-based information coming! Spread the facts on social media using the CDC’s coronavirus social media kit.

Farmer’s Markets & COVID-19

May marks the beginning of the farmer’s market season in many parts of the country. With COVID-19, most markets will open as planned, with social distancing, handwashing stations, online ordering, curbside delivery, and other changes to make shopping safe for everyone.

This is a good time to encourage your clients to support their local farmer’s market or farm stand. Farmers aren’t selling as much produce to restaurants, so they need the income as well as something to do with their harvest. And we need healthy food!

Here are six teaching tips for farmer’s market season:

1. Let your clients know the many benefits of shopping farm stands and markets.

  • Markets are a source of healthy, locally-grown food.
  • Locally-grown food is in season and at its peak for taste and nutrition.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables supply a host of nutrients that boost your immune system.
  • If farmers go out of business, this source of healthy local food won’t be available to us in the future.

2. Emphasize that fresh produce from farmer’s markets and farm stands (and for that matter, grocery stores) is safe to eat.

  • According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is no evidence that food or food packaging is involved with the transmission of COVID-19 (up-to-date information is available on their website and on this PDF).
  • Follow basic COVID-19 safety guidelines when shopping:
    • Check before you go – some markets and farmers are doing online-only pre-ordering.
    • Wash your hands before and after shopping.
    • Wear a mask and stay at least six feet from others.
    • Don’t touch the food. Many vendors will have produce bagged and ready. Let them get it for you.
    • Pay with your debit/credit/SNAP card and avoid using cash.
    • Be patient – with extra safety measures it may take more time than usual.
    • Get what you need and go – avoid socializing.
  • When you get home, rinse all produce (follow FDA’s normal tips).

3. Remind clients that real food grows … and you can find it at the farmer’s market! See our beautiful Real Food Grows poster that conveys this message.

  • Did the food you’re looking at grow into what it now is, or has it been processed with other elements to create a new food?
  • Processed foods are usually calorie-dense, high in unhealthy types of fat, refined sugars, and sodium, and low in fiber.

4. Use our poster to teach people how fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market make you a winner!

  • Weight – fruits and veggies are naturally low in calories and help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • I am healthier – eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies is associated with a lower risk for many chronic diseases.
  • Nutrients – fruits and veggies are major contributors for nutrients most people are lacking.

5. Make it fun to learn about the fruits and vegetables you’ll probably see at the farmer’s market with the Vegetable Cooking Program or Name That Fruit and Veggie Game.

6. Remind clients who use SNAP that their food dollars may go further when they buy fresh produce. Most states have programs that provide a dollar for dollar match when you use your SNAP/EBT card to buy fruits and vegetables at farmer’s markets and some retail stores. (Find out more about Double Up Bucks and similar incentive programs here.)

And don’t forget about community supported agriculture (CSA)! Find out what’s available in your area so you can give your clients all the information they need to get a steady supply of fresh, local healthy produce all season long.

Nutrition & Health Education During COVID-19

With social distancing and school closings, you may be wondering what to do about nutrition and health education. Many people, from musicians to personal trainers to artists, are sharing their expertise and talent with the world by way of Zoom, YouTube, Facebook Live, and other virtual ways of connecting. You can do this too!

If the thought scares you, start small. Do some trial runs with family and friends as your virtual audience. And really, don’t worry about messing up. Even the pros make mistakes.

As far as what topics to cover, the possibilities are endless. Give your audience a break from thinking about the coronavirus. Keep it light, but still provide some good information.

Health calendar observances are good sources of inspiration. There is a food or health topic for almost every day of the year. Some are official, others not so much. But as long as your information is accurate, go for it.

Health calendars we like:

Below are some ideas to get you thinking … these are mostly official health weeks and months. Look for a future post about more light-hearted topics, like National Garlic Day (April 19), Salsa Month (May), and National Hummus Day (May 13).

March/April:

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (March 30–April 5):  The goal of this week is to connect teens to resources to SHATTER THE MYTHS® about drugs and alcohol. There are online and downloadable versions of the 2020 National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge and plenty of activities that teens, parents, and teachers can do from home.

April:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month:  The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders has a toolkit as well as simple tips you can share, covering topics like probiotics, exercise, and fiber. If you want a deep dive into gut health, check out our Microbiome PowerPoint.

National Minority Health Month:  This year’s theme is Active & Healthy, with a focus on simple ways to move more to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and other conditions that are often more common or severe among racial and ethnic minority groups. You could focus on ways to get exercise when we’re all staying home because of COVID-19, like dancing, walking, household chores, or bouncing on an exercise ball while binge-watching.

World Health Day (April 7):  World Health Day 2020 will honor nurses and midwives, which is particularly appropriate given their role on the front lines of fighting COVID-19. The World Health Organization’s calls to action include asking the general public to “show nurses and midwives your appreciation for their work and thank them for what they do to keep us healthy.” Invite your clients, students, and colleagues to thank a nurse or midwife they know (or work with) by posting on social media using the tag #SupportNursesAndMidwives.

Every Kid Healthy Week (April 20–24):  Every Kid Healthy™ Week celebrates school health and wellness achievements. Each day of the week spotlights actions schools and families are taking to improve the health and wellness of their kids. While most schools closed due to COVID-19, Action for Healthy Kids provides plenty of “do this at home” ideas and activities. Each weekday has a topic and we have some fantastic materials that would go with them:

May:

Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 10-16):  Help the public learn more about food allergies by sharing information from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT). A good place to start is their downloadable 10 FAACTS About Food Allergies poster. If your audience includes new or expecting parents, you could talk about peanut early introduction guidelines from Food Allergy Research & Education. We have some great resources as well: a fun Food Allergy Poster and our Food Allergies (They’re Nothing to Sneeze At!) PowerPoint with handouts.

National High Blood Pressure Education Month:  The CDC says that about 28% of American adults aged 18 years or older have prehypertension, so educating folks about preventing and controlling high blood pressure is an important message for many. We have lots of blood pressure materials to help, including PowerPoint shows like Blood Pressure 101, Blood Pressure Trivia Game, and Four Lessons to Lower Blood Pressure. You could also talk about the DASH Diet and make your own sodium test tubes, using sandwich bags if necessary.

World No Tobacco Day (May 31):  The World Health Organization leads this effort against smoking, specifically working to keep youth from falling prey to tobacco marketing and advertising campaigns. With the popularity of e-cigarettes, our Dangers of Vaping poster is just what you need to address this important topic. For more info and resources on vaping, see this recent blog post. We also have a Living Tobacco Free PowerPoint show.

This is just a sample of health calendar observances you can share with your clients or students. Remember to keep it light and make it fun!

Here are some popular presentations from NutritionEducationStore.com: