June 24, 2005 | By: Laura Skillman

Rita Stewart demonstrates how to prepare summer salads

In less than an hour, residents of one central Kentucky town consumed a healthy lunch, learned new recipes and got a little exercise for the day.

The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service in Lincoln County has been periodically offering Lunch Break to Stanford residents for nearly two years. Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Rita Stewart said the purpose was simply to educate people about healthy lifestyle choices.

“If we can just get them to try one new idea, that’s what we are after,” Stewart said. “We’re trying to promote new recipe ideas, educational information about fruits and vegetables and healthier recipes. We have a different theme every time.”

The theme for June’s summer kickoff was Summer Salads. Guests were treated to a tortellini pasta salad, spinach salad with fresh strawberries and toasted almonds, served with poppy seed dressing in an easy-to-make bread bowl, and a simple fruit salad served in a hollowed-out watermelon.

The target audience is people who work in downtown Stanford.

“We do it at lunch because a lot of people work but they can come to a program at lunch,” Stewart said. “They can leave the office at noon, come to our program and leave by 10-till to get back to work by 1 p.m.”

Stewart said the program started out years ago with about 15 participants; the recent summer program attracted more than 60, due in part to cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s good any time you can network and collaborate with community sponsors,” Stewart said. “It really boosted our attendance because the Chamber alerted their contacts through e-mail about the program.”

Many people walked from their offices to the Lunch Break session at the Historic L&N Depot. Stewart said they encouraged people to walk so they could incorporate exercise into their break.

In the spring, the Lunch Break focused on making traditional recipes healthier. Stewart said the featured item was meatloaf made of half beef and half soy. She said most people said they wouldn’t normally try soy, but they loved the meatloaf.

Door prizes were offered for the first time. Guests registered for herb plants, pie plates and decorative summer dishes. The next Lunch Break is in the planning phase, and Stewarts expects it to be scheduled sometime in the fall.


Writer: Aimee Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Rita Stewart 606-364-2459