Lori van Anrooy, Program Manager and Educator with Food$ense/SNAP-ED, has many years of experience in bringing nutrition education to youth and adults in Spokane County, including in the ZONE. Lori originally found an interest in cooking in the mid-1990s, and leading cooking classes for high schoolers led her to pursue more nutrition education with folks of all ages. Through WSU Spokane County Extension, Lori and her fellow educators lead after-school and summer programming for kids at schools in Northeast Spokane, including Shaw Middle School, Logan Elementary, Lidgerwood Elementary, and Bemiss Elementary. They make connections with principals, counselors, teachers, and the Communities in Schools Coordinators.
Lori also leads classes in meal planning for adults and, with the help of The ZONE, teaches monthly virtual cooking classes for families. “We have a wide range of things we do,” Lori says, “but it has to lead back to a healthy lifestyle.” Educating about food labels, teaching scratch cooking, encouraging and guiding physical activity, and providing strategies for stress reduction are just some of the ways that Lori and other SNAP-ED educators are “giving people knowledge and tools” and ensuring greater health for folks in the ZONE. Whether she’s organizing salad bars in schools across the county, handing out snacks during after-school programming at Lidgerwood Elementary and Shaw Middle School, or working with Logan Elementary to support family dinners on Tuesday nights, Lori has been an inspiration for improving nutrition in the ZONE.
Lori is from Spokane originally, which has helped her recognize the difference that her work has made in the lives of folks in Spokane. Lori says, “I talk to some of the other educators, and some of the most rewarding moments have been when we go back to classrooms each week and hear kids say, ‘I made the recipe for my family and they loved it!’ A lot of the stuff we bring into the classroom are things they don’t have on a regular basis or that they have never tried before, and they get their families involved! I have to say, what an amazing accomplishment for a program to get to hear that. Those little comments like that are amazing.” She also expressed gratitude for similar comments in the adult programs. “In adult programming,” she explains, “we really focus on meal planning, and so to see people come back a couple months later and say, ‘Oh my gosh, the meal planning has made a huge difference for me and for my family’ is really rewarding for a lot of us [educators].”
While it may not always be easy, Lori cannot help but gush about her job. “I have to say: it’s a great job, it’s a fun job, and it’s very rewarding. It happened about four years ago, but I was in a classroom with little kids and one boy raised his hand and asked, ‘Do they pay you to do this?’” Thank you, Lori, for all your amazing work!