Nutrition & Wellness

FCS logo cropped

Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS) Program

The Family & Consumer Science program "strengthens families, farms, communities and the economy by focusing on the human dimensions of food and agriculture.  Family and Consumer Sciences includes all topics of considerable importance for maintaining a healthy lifestyle in today’s society."

The University of Maryland Extension FCS team has quickly pivoted programming to online formats to help families across the state secure their finances, maintain good health and well-being, and manage levels of stress during these uncertain times. We’re pleased to share some of the great programming we are offering virtually across Maryland in the areas of nutrition and health, preventing and managing chronic diseases, food safety, food preservation, insuring your health, fostering healthy and safe environments, growing healthy kids, and youth and adult financial education. The goal of FCS is that Maryland residents will have access to the resources and be empowered to make informed health decisions leading to healthy living and better health outcomes.  FCS programs offered in Cecil County include a variety of topics.

Upcoming Programs

Capture the Flavor

March 12, 2024, 11 AM - 12:15 PM,

Cecil County Family YMCA, 25 YMCA Blvd, Elkton, MD 21921

Register online or contact Donna Witkowski at 410.996.8131.

Register Online

Dining with Diabetes Program

Dining with Diabetes

Cecil County Family YMCA, 25 YMCA Blvd., Elkton, MD 21921

This is a 4-series weekly program. 

Dates are:  Wednesdays, April 3, 10, 17 & 24.

Register online or contact Donna Witkowski, 410-996-8131,

Register Online

Download the Brochure

Explore Cecil County FCS Programs

Dining With Diabetes

Dining with Diabetes is a national program designed for adults with type 2 diabetes, is at-risk for type 2 diabetes, has pre-diabetes, is a family member, caregiver or provides support for people with type 2 diabetes, wants to learn more about managing and preventing type 2 diabetes.  The program teaches skills needed to identify and understand important information about managing this disease.  Dining with Diabetes complements and does not replace other diabetes education and management programs. It includes a series of four weekly, two hour classes and a three month follow up class.

The program includes four sessions and teaches skills needed to identify and understand important information about managing this disease.  Participants will learn:  menu planning, carbohydrate counting, portion control, label reading, healthy fats, and the importance of fiber in managing diabetes.

Note: Individual meal plans or guidance will not be provided.

The Dining with Diabetes program is available to anyone, 18 years or older who is at-risk for or currently has type 2 diabetes, has pre-diabetes, is a family member, caregiver or provides support for people with type 2 diabetes, and/or  wants to learn more about managing and preventing type 2 diabetes.

The program is led by registered dietitians and trained University of Maryland Extension Educators in consultation with registered dietitians.

Food Preservations

Our educational programs and problem-solving assistance are available to citizens and are based on the research and experience of land grant universities such as the University of Maryland, College Park.

Capture the Flavor: Herbs and Spices.  In this 75 minute interactive program, learn the health benefits of cooking with herbs and spices, best practices for storing them safely, and how to flavor meals like a pro! 

Grow it - Eat it - Preserve it
In Maryland, food preservation has become a hot topic with increasing numbers of consumers interested in learning up-to-date, evidence-based techniques and safe procedures for preserving foods at home. The Grow It—Eat it—Preserve it program is designed to give consumers information and hands-on experience with food preservation techniques, so that they can make informed decisions about growing, harvesting, processing, preparing, serving and storing food to maximize food safety and reduce the incidence of Maryland food borne illness.


Since the 1900’s Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS) educators have taught how to safely preserve food, whether it was canning, drying, or freezing, using USDA home food preservation guidelines.  FCS educators can advise you on:  

  • Jams, jellies, and butters
  • Pickled & fermented products
  • High acid foods (peaches)
  • Tomatoes
  • Low acid foods (green beans)

We teach evidence-based information on safely freezing foods at home.

Dehydration (drying)

We teach evidence-based information on safely freezing foods at home.

For more information about home gardening, visit The University of Maryland’s Home & Garden Information Center webpage by clicking here. 

Fresh Conversations

The Fresh Conversations Program offers friendly conversation to help you maintain your health and independence. Adults over 50 years of age, can join us to learn from each other, discuss current nutrition and health topics, and discover new ways to be active.

Fresh Conversations: Maryland Nutrition Education Program For Older Adults

Fresh Conversations is a nutrition education program for Maryland's older adults. In Maryland, the program is administered by the University of Maryland Extension faculty and Fresh Conversations Certified Trainers. The Iowa Department of Public Health created Fresh Conversations in partnership with Iowa’s Department of Human Services and Department on Aging. Original funding for the program came from USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Program or SNAP.

What is Fresh Conversations Program?

This (approximately one hour long) monthly program offers an array of nutrition, wellness, and health-related topics to older adults at senior centers and sites where they congregate. The sessions are filled with interactive activities, lively discussions, tasting opportunities and physical activity demonstrations.

Each month, participants will receive a vibrantly colored newsletter featuring relevant research-based health information, physical activity tips, mind-stimulating games, easy low cost recipes, and an area to write down and track goals.

Our Wonderful Program Partner 

The Maryland Department of Aging (MDoA) helps establish Maryland as an attractive location for all older adults through vibrant communities and supportive services that offer the opportunity to live healthy and meaningful lives. MDoA and the statewide network of 19 Area Agencies on Aging assist older Marylanders with a range of services and sources of information. MDoA administers state and federal programs, many of which are significantly lower in cost than nursing home placement. 

Who is Eligible to Participate in Fresh Conversations?

Maryland older adults receiving services from the local senior centers or sites where they congregate are eligible to participate in the program. 

What Newsletter Topics Will be Discussed?*

  1. Healthy Foods, Healthy Brain 
  2. Inflammation
  3. Cancer: Preventable, Not Inevitable
  4. Macular Degeneration: Sight-Saving Strategies
  5. Are Healthy Bones Important?
  6. Fuel Your Independence with Protein
  7. Fresh Herbs: Don’t Miss Out on Summer Flavor
  8. Summer Check-Up  

*Disclaimer: Number of sessions and topics covered may vary by site. Check with your local site or local UME-FCS faculty to find out what topics are offered in your area.


Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle.  Along with physical activity and getting enough sleep, consuming nutritious foods can help maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic diseases and promote overall good health.

Nutrition education programs available include:

The Dash Diet. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an eating plan to lower or control high blood pressure. This program offers a series of six, one hour sessions that includes recipe tasting, emphasizing foods lower in sodium as well as foods rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium which can help lower blood pressure.

Eating the Mediterranean Way. The Mediterranean diet is recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to promote health and prevent chronic disease. In this one hour program, learn the basics of healthy eating using the traditional flavors and cooking methods of the Mediterranean.

Eating for Good Health. It’s easier than you think to start eating healthy! In this one hour program, learn how to choose foods that could improve your health and manage health concerns. 

Eat Smart, Live Strong. This program offers four, one hour sessions to improve fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity among adults, 60 years and older using interactive activities and recipe tasting.

Healthy Snacking. In this 45 minute program, learn the importance of healthy snacking and insight into snacking trends and tips on choosing healthy snacks

Know the Facts: The New Nutrition Facts Label. As of January 1, 2020, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and drinks. During this 45 minute program, learn about the changes to the Nutrition Facts Label and how the food label can help you make healthy food choices.

Reducing Your Cancer Risk. The evidence shows that modifying what we eat, being more physically active, having a healthy body weight and other health-related choices can prevent nearly half of all cancer diagnoses. In this one hour program, learn about the American Institute for Cancer Research’s recommendations for individuals to lower their risk of lifestyle-related cancers.

Fostering Healthy Home Environments

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a challenge in our busy world. The University of Maryland Extension offers community outreach programs for youth, individuals, and families to make informed decisions about their health, housing and overall well-being. 

Maintaining healthy homes and communities reduces the risk of childhood lead poisoning, asthma, fire and electrical injuries, exposure to indoor toxicants, and other illnesses and injuries can impact public health and safety. The goals of UM Extension’s Healthy Homes programs are to improve personal and family health through awareness of indoor health hazards and strategies to improve indoor air and drinking water quality and safety measures.  

Green Cleaning. In this one hour interactive program, learn how to make your own environmentally safe products by using ingredients in your home and save money too.

Hazardous Household Substances and Alternatives. In this one hour program, learn how to identify, store and dispose of harmful substances you no longer use and what alternative products you can use to keep your home clean and safe. 

Poison-Look-Alikes. Potentially harmful substances can easily be mistaken for safe ones, usually because they look the same or have very similar packaging. In this one hour program, learn how to identify these products in your home and prevention tips to avoid a poisoning mishap.

Tossed Treasures. In the US, an average person wastes 238 pounds of food per year (21 percent of the food they buy), costing them $1,800 per year. In this 45 minute program, learn how to minimizing food waste and save money.

Maintaining an Optimal Level of Wellness

Wellness starts with making good lifestyle choices which could lead to a higher quality life. Whether it’s being physically active on a regular basis, eating healthful foods, getting enough sleep or managing your stress, achieving optimal wellness is a choice and can improve the body-mind connection and provide you with a positive outlook on life. Programs available to improve and achieve an ideal level of wellness include:

Managing Stress and Balancing Life. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed once in a while, but it’s important to set time aside to unwind. Attend this 1 hour program and learn some stress management techniques to maintain good mental and physical health and lead a happier, healthier life.

Brain health.  Research is still emerging, but evidence shows it’s possible to reduce the risk of cognitive decline by making key lifestyle choices. Attend this 1 hour program and learn how lifestyle choices such as consuming certain foods, participating in regular physical activity, staying socially engaged, and getting a good night can maintain good brain health.  Click here to view current programs being offered on this topic.

Mindfulness. Being mindful means being in the ‘present’ and giving your full attention to your environment, thoughts, behaviors, and experiences. Attend this one hour program and learn quick and easy mindfulness techniques and how practicing them a few minutes each day can relieve stress, lower blood pressure and improve sleep. 

How to Talk to Your Doctor. You can play an active role in your healthcare. Attend this one hour program and receive a free workbook with easy tips that can help prepare for your medical visits, talk to your doctor, and make the most of your appointment.

Insuring Your Health.  Programs and resources that increase the capacity of Marylanders to get health information, and understand and use it with confidence to lower the risk of poor health. In response to the passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, UME is spearheading a health insurance initiative to educate consumers to make informed decisions about health insurance. For more information click here.

Breathing Room - A Space to Take a Breath & A Step Towards Wellness

Grower Risk Assessment

This grower educational tool is part of the University of Maryland Extension, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and New Mexico State University's Learning Game Lab (supported by USDA-NIFA-AFRI-FSOP).

SNAP-Ed logo

Maryland Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-Ed) 

University of Maryland Extension‘s school-based SNAP-Ed programs reach students, teachers, and parents in low income communities including after-school sites, summer meal programs and public schools where 50% or more students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch.

The goal of the SNAP-Ed school-based programs is to integrate key nutrition messages into the school curriculum, policies, the lunchroom, and family shopping and meals.

Implementing a variety of curriculum, SNAP-Ed uses in-direct and direct education to empower individuals to make healthier choices, buy healthy food on a budget, develop food preparation skills, and increase physical activity.


50% of food pantry managers who partner with SNAP-Ed report that they have a strong procurement policy that states a preference for healthy foods.

After SNAP-Ed programming, 83% of teachers report students are willing to try new fruits and vegetables, as compared to 52% before.

More Program Information

Check Us Out On Facebook!


Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

EFNEP is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute for Food and Agriculture and the University of Maryland Extension.  The major goals of EFNEP are to help limited-income families and youth acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behavior changes necessary to promote health/wellness and reduce chronic risk.

More Program Information

Check us out on Facebook!

Children plant a community garden at Rudy Park in Elkton, Maryland.