County Extension is Here to Help

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Extension's role in the 1918 pandemic

A home demonstration with poultry and eggs. In Buncombe County, agents distributed chicken broth, chicken soup, chicken stew, other soups and stews, milk, bread, vegetables, and fruits. From the publication Building a Program of Agricultural Extension.

According to the 1918 home demonstration annual report, the agents and volunteers addressed the pandemic in 55 counties. A total of 91 community kitchens were created that each fed an average of 150 people daily, and household kitchens were “ . . . used as soup distributing centers.”  It stated, “all the volunteer automobiles necessary were at hand to deliver the nourishment and interested citizens and farmers furnished the money and supplies.”  Much of this information was reproduced in the 1918 Extension Service annual report, which went on to say that “practically every agent employed by the Home Demonstration Division was called upon to take part in aiding in the control of this epidemic, either by nursing or by handling diet kitchens, many of them won words of commendation and praise from the State Board of Health and other sources for the efficient service rendered.”  A report from the 1930s summarizing on the first 25 years of the Home Demonstration program also contained this quote from the head of the North Carolina State Board of Health:  “It was through the organized home demonstration clubs that we were able to systematically care for the sick in the country, and with their trained leaders acting as practical nurses and operating soup kitchens for those in need, we were able to come through the situation with the least amount of loss.” -NC State University Libraries Archives– Special Collections.

As in 1918, our Cooperative Extension Service is here to help with social distancing and best COVID-19 safety guidelines in place to help the county citizens through another pandemic. We are still able to assist you either in person (appointment encouraged), outside our offices in the parking lots or by email, text, or phone. We can’t provide nursing or food assistance as we did in 1918, however, we can provide you with any of your agriculture, horticulture, home economic, nutritional, or youth development needs through educational and research-related information. Therefore, please call us at 586-4009 in Jackson or 488-3848 in Swain. For the latest information on our educational resources online please visit our websites at Jackson County and Swain County. Article submitted by County Extension Director Robert J. Hawk.