University of Missouri Extension

Linda Geist
Senior Information Specialist
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group

Published: July 09, 2013
Story Source: Vera Massey, 573-445-9792

Recent MU grad wants to help others through food

COLUMBIA, Mo. - "One of my passions is helping others be healthy on a small amount of money," says Kelsie Shearrer, a May 2013 graduate of the University of Missouri College of Human Environmental Sciences.

Shearrer, who majored in dietetics and exercise physiology, is now learning to grow and preserve food on a shoestring this summer through classes offered by University of Missouri Extension.

Later this summer she begins an 11-month stint in Fayetteville, Ark., as a service member of FoodCorps, a nationwide nonprofit dedicated connecting children to healthy food.

Out of more than 1,000 applicants, Shearrer was one of only about 80 people selected for the 2013-14 service team. Service members provide nutrition education, build and tend school gardens, and work to bring healthy food into school cafeterias.

Shearrer has always been passionate about food, but she is taking her culinary skills to new levels this summer with her second growing season with a vegetable garden of her own. Shearer has been inspired by her part-time work at The Salad Garden, a small farm in Ashland, and her experience as a volunteer for the MU Child Development Center's learning garden.

She has been a longtime volunteer at her church, where she incorporates Christian teachings into the gardening curriculum by talking about how discipline, renewal, growth and faith are similar components in gardening and religion.

"It's fun to have a garden because I think it teaches community," she says. "People talk about their gardens and share food from their gardens."

Sharing food is nothing new for Shearrer. Even as a child, she shared homemade baked goods with family, friends, neighbors and fellow church members. She and her mother, Cindy Shearrer, recently made fresh salad packs to share using garden radishes, greens and homemade dressing and croutons.

The mother-daughter pair learned different ways to can and freeze their summer bounty in food preservation classes at the Boone County MU Extension Center. They also use their weekly Sunday visits to make dishes, share recipes and preserve family traditions.

Shearrer's interest in gardening and canning parallels the growing interest in home gardens and farmers markets, says their instructor, Vera Massey, an MU Extension nutrition and health education specialist in Boone County.

Massey said much of the renewed interest in home food preservation is motivated by the cost of food, concerns about food quality, nutrition, taste and the desire to eat more locally grown foods.

For information about food preservation classes in your area, contact your local MU Extension center.

A wide variety of MU Extension publications on food preservation are available for free download at

For more information about FoodCorps, go to

Photo available for following caption

Kelsie Shearrer tends to her home garden. She is learning to preserve food through classes offered by University of Missouri Extension.
Photo credit: Photo by Linda Geist

Photo available for following caption

MU Extension nutrition and health education specialist Vera Massey, left, taught a food preservation course taken by Kelsie Shearrer.
Photo credit: Photo by Linda Geist

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