DAFVM Spotlight Employee: Tabitha McRunnels


Tabitha McRunnels

For six years, Tabitha McRunnels has been teaching parents in Lee County how to get quick, easy and healthy meals on the table.

“I go into WIC offices, DHS offices, churches and individual homes to teach general nutrition classes to low-income moms and dads,” McRunnels said. “I talk to them about shopping sensibly and the foods children need to be healthy.”

McRunnels is an Extension program assistant for the Mississippi State University Extension Service’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. As the mother of three children -- ages 9, 15 and 17 -- she understands the pressure parents are under.

“We just run, run, run all the time – basketball, band practice and cheerleading practice,” she said. “People say, ‘Oh, cooking is just too much work.’ I show them how to simplify shopping and cooking. It’s wonderful to be able to show them how to make their lives easier. They can relate to me, and I can relate to them. I get where they are.”

McRunnels sees the impact of her work in her community, sometimes when she least expects it. She recently encountered one of her class participants at a restaurant.

“She said, ‘Hey, Mrs. Tabitha! I was in your class at DHS. Every time I fix my kids a meal, I ask myself if I have enough color on their plates.’ What that told me is that before our class, it wasn’t important to her to have something from each food group on the plate when she fed her children. Now she thinks about giving them all of the foods they need. Sometimes you think they’re not listening, but even the smallest thing that they pick up tells me we’re making a difference.”

Editor's note: The Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine Spotlight Employee profiles are provided by the Office of Agricultural Communications at Mississippi State. For more information, please click here.

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