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Louraiseal McDonald, holding MyPlate eating guide, with Optimist President Le Ila Dixon. The Optimists Club recently heard from McDonald at the club meeting.

The Noon Optimist Club of Marshall met Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Hutchins Hall of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Marshall. President Le Ila Dixon convened with the ringing of the bell and led in prayer followed by the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag and the recitation of the Optimist’s creed.

Optimist Le Ila welcomed all, especially Louraiseal McDonald, Harrison County Extension Agent for Family and Community Health.

President Le Ila called on us to share our optimism. Isabel Martinez was optimistic about the Hispanic worship service at Cumberland, led by her husband David Montoya, due to the recent addition of a new family: Zeneido and Maria García and their kids, Karla, Emanuel, Ariana and Fernando. Le Ila was optimistic because of learning about the surprising response of Phil Laboon, a 32-year-old Pittsburg man whose wedding was recently called off. The wedding reception was already paid for so he transformed it into LemonAID a paid event to benefit SurgiCorps International. In so doing, he raised $50,000 for the benefit of the kids SurgCorps serves and exemplified the advice: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. (P.S. He also received numerous emails from women offering to marry him!)

A letter from Director Misty Scott was read sharing her pleasure at meeting with the club in December and her thanks for our $500 gift to Mission Marshall. Le Ila reported no Optimist birthdays this week and inquired about Louraiseal’s who reported that her’s was not until April 1st. All commiserated with her on the kidding she must have endured in childhood. Today is also National Celebrate Life Day and a day to honor children and grandchildren. “Hug a child today or send a note or email,” Le Ila urged and concluded with the announcement that it is National Blonde Brownie Day in celebration of which she baked some for all to enjoy.

Louraiseal McDonald began her talk by answering a question about her exact title and how long she has been at the task. She outlined several different titles for her work and indicated she was been at her job

in Harrison County for eleven years but officially in the work for more than a generation. “In a sense, I’ve been at it even longer,” she said, “since I grew up in 4-H!”

She reported that County Extension work started with the boll weevil and has been around more than 100 years. “Agricultural agents began to go round and talk abut how to deal with the weevil and improve yields beginning with cotton and expanding into corn and other crops.” When bumper crops resulted it fell to the women to figure out how to prepare and preserve them and that resulted in the employment of women who went around rural communities teaching canning and other preservation techniques. “That,” she said, “was broadened into teaching how to make quilts and mattresses, organizing 4-H clubs (which teach young people about leadership skills as well as the care and raising of domestic animals), and involving youth and adults in community service, e.g. the annual Farm-City Week.

Louraiseal shared nutrition hints using the MyPlate model (ChooseMyPlate.gov) which has replaced the old Food Pyramid as a guide to healthy eating. “Your plate should not be more than 9 inches in diameter,” she counseled and noted that “many restaurants use larger ones. You should chew your food, relish its taste, and enjoy the people with whom you are eating instead of watching tv and paying no attention to how much you consume.” She doesn’t encourage you to do diets because “you won’t stick with it.”

“And in the South, what do we drink with our food?” she asked. A chorus replied, “Sweet tea and Dr. Pepper.” “And what do I see tempting us every day,” she lamented: “99 cents drinks, often 24 oz..” “I have a friend who works in Longview and buys one of those at the beginning of his trip in the morning and another on his way home in the afternoon; give them up, please!”

The MyPlate model is divided into four quarters with an add-on circle for dairy. The two largest quarters are vegetables and grains; the two smaller, fruits and protein. “Vegetables are so good for us, but,” she admitted, “they are not sweet like fruits.” She pointed out the darker the vegetable the more nutritious it is and emphasized whole fruits rather than juices (which contain less fiber and more sugar). Louraiseal made a

plug for the Farmers Market downtown. “Go there and get yourself a vine-ripened tomato,” she challenged. Optimist Richard Magrill reported that he had gone there with that intention only to find that you couldn’t buy just one. “Buy them anyway and share!” she suggested, touting also the inimitable taste of fresh-shelled purple-hull peas.

“How many of you eat whole grain bread and brown rice?” she asked, and got a number of positive answers. She emphasized that foods that have 3-5 grams of fiber are better for you than those with less. “Have you tried almond milk?” “I have,” Optimist Julie Brock replied, “I’m lactose intolerant and have found it to be good!” “What about rice milk?” “Not so tasty,” she replied.

Louraiseal supplied Personal Health Care Journals to all present and our meeting ended with drawings for a door prize from Louraiseal won by Optimist Michelle Fuller and one of the pots of yellow mums from the head table won by Julie Brock. Louraiseal was given the remaining pot of mums in appreciation for her work.