May 10, 2005 |
CONTACT: Jeannette Warnert, (559) 646-6074, firstname.lastname@example.org |
Contra Costa County nutrition advisor retires June 30
“I feel like the luckiest person in the world,” Fujii said. “In this county, I have had wonderful colleagues, I have been able to work on local projects that really meet people’s needs and I’ve had the opportunity to work with campus-based nutrition specialists who are world-famous.”
Fujii, a native of
In October 1980, Fujii joined UC Cooperative Extension as the coordinator of
Early on in her career in
“The first time, the biggest (demographic) group standing in line for free food was single men. The second time it was families with young children and the third time it was families again,” Fujii said. “We were able to use these statistics to identify areas of the county with needs and initiate special programs to help them.”
Fujii co-founded the Contra Costa County Hunger Task Force, an organization that pooled the expertise and resources of various social services agencies in the county to make a coordinated effort to address local hunger. As an example of the task force’s effectiveness, the diverse group together realized that, between the WIC program that serves infants and young children and school lunch program which starts at age 5, there was a three-year gap in supplemental feeding support for children in low-income families. The task force established a special program at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano to serve children in this age group.
The task force also contributed its expertise to the county as it worked to draft its County Food Policy. The policy now requires that anytime the county pays for food, at least half the offerings be healthy food choices. The policy is the foundation of a vending food policy passed in
Another outgrowth of the hunger task force was the effort to address a 25 percent rate of anemia in preschoolers from low-income families in
“Children need iron as the brain is developing. If a young child lacks iron at this critical time, you can’t make up for it later,” Fujii said.
Collaborating with UC campus specialists, Fujii produced a 12-minute video, “For Goodness Sake, Prevent Anemia.” The video, also available in a 14-minute Spanish version, suggests easy ways to ensure adequate iron in the diet. For example, the video says preschoolers will readily eat iron-fortified breakfast cereals, such as Chex, Cheerios, Kix or their store brand equivalent, as a snack. It recommends parents place a half-cup serving in a bag and offer it anytime to help meet the need for dietary iron. The video has been used all over the country and in
During her retirement, Fujii plans to volunteer in various community projects including the group that supports the sister city relationship between
Mary Lavender Fujii