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Nov 17, 2023

Our conversation today covered several food-related topics as we chatted with several Virginia Cooperative Extension agents about their various programs. Karen Poff, Senior Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Science, Virginia Cooperative Extension office is based in the Warren County office, but serves all five surrounding counties. She also manages the Northern Shenandoah Valley Financial Education Program. Hannah Copp, is an Associate Extension Agent in Family and Consumer Sciences, focusing on food, nutrition, & health. Joanne Royaltey is a Program Associate with Frederick County Cooperative Extension, and an Extension Master Gardener.

Karen gave details about the Super Pantry program. The Super Pantry program is a six-week course during which families receive instruction about food preparation, basic budgeting, food safety, and other life skills. Super Pantry offers low-income families the tools to improve nutrition, overall health, and self-sufficiency. In addition, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank provides families with food boxes for the duration of the program. Super Pantry is a collaborative effort between the Food Bank, the Virginia Cooperative Extension, and the Smart Choices Nutrition Education Program (SCNEP).  A registered dietician from the Virginia Cooperative Extension teaches each session. For more information about the program, reach out to Kimberly Costa, FNP Program Assistant via phone 540-665-5699 or email 

Hannah gave us some insight into the food and nutrition programs she offers and talked about the benefits of food preservation.

Joanne talked about the positive impact gardening - no matter the size - can have on food insecurity. She encouraged anyone interested in starting a community garden to reach out to extension for advice. She explained that community gardens do well in our region as they offer so many benefits:

  • Beautifying the landscape
  • Making fresh produce accessible
  • Promoting healthier lifestyles
  • Cleaning up the environment
  • Building stronger communities
  • Providing educational opportunities
  • Increasing wellness

Below are several links that the group shared where you can find more information on the topics we discussed today.