Spezzano shared tips about increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in the diet and the importance of developing a regular exercise routine.
The mother of two young sons, Spezzano said they sit down together on Sundays with grocery store ads and plan the week's meals.
"We love the summer because it is so much easier to get fresh fruit and vegetables," Spezzano said. "We grow our own vegetables and go to the farmers' market on Saturday and that helps us plan meals also."
The Fresno Bee sought information from UCCE for a front-page story that appeared Monday about food waste. Americans throw away 90 billion pounds of food a year, the newspaper reported.
Ginnie Nash, UCCE nutrition education program manager, suggested buying only what you need. It sounds obvious, writer Bethany Clough acknowledged in the article, but buying too much is one of the biggest sources of food waste.
"We get busy. It's tough," Nash said. Plan meals on paper and see what's in the refrigerator and cupboard before going shopping.
Field trips for students to learn about eating healthy, which include presentations by UC Cooperative Extension nutrition educators in Tulare and Fresno counties, have appeared recently on ABC 30 Action News in Fresno.
In Fresno, the children visited the Fresno Unified Nutrition Center to try foods like jicama, broccoli and sweet potatoes and tour the processing line where their lunches are made.
In Tulare, children took part in AgVenture Day to make the connection between agricultural production and the food they eat. AgVenture Day was held International Agri-Center in Tulare and was sponsored by International Agri-Center, Tulare County Farm Bureau and UC Cooperative Extension.
UCCE nutrition educators presented an engaging skit to show the importance of good nutrition.
"We want to show them (that) someone grows it, someone processes it, someone eats it. And it helps you to think and learn and grow," said Julie Cates, UC Cooperative Extension.
Curlee's article noted that UCCE has, "Knowledgeable, trained advisors ... on hand locally ... to help with meal planning, wise shopping, individual diet planning and overall nutritional health."
The column was prompted by the January-March issue of California Agriculture journal, a special issue focusing on "Healthy Families and Communities." In the opening editorial, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin said the state is facing a crisis in the health and education of its young people, Curlee reported.
“The challenges include high childhood obesity, rising school dropout rates and low student achievement, especially in the sciences," Eastin said. “Healthy families and children are vital to our nation and its prosperous future. It is time that key players in higher education join in a project to promote the general welfare by focusing on measurable scientific initiatives we can pursue to ensure the blessings of liberty to our posterity.”
Reedley seniors learned how to eat healthy on a budget by participating in a four-session course offered by UC Cooperative Extension CalFresh Nutrition Education, reported the Reedley Exponent.
UCCE nutrition educator Nancy Zumkeller taught participants how to make 'cowboy caviar' during the program's third session, which reporter Jodie Reyna attended. During the program, Zumkeller compared the cost of a "healthy" shopping cart - which included white tuna and dried pinto beans - and an "unheathy" cart - with hot dogs and ground beef. The heathier cart came to $44.31. The less healthy cart was $58.24.
"It's not about choosing foods because they taste good, but about what's in the foods," Zumkeller said.
The project is funded with a $500,000 grant from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
"We are going to support the school(s) to develop a stronger wellness program that rewards healthy eating and physical activity," said Concepción Mendoza, UCCE advisor in Shasta County, nutrition, family and consumer sciences.
UC Cooperative Extension specialist Patricia Crawford, nutrition, told reporter Joe Szydiowski that people's palettes depend on four criteria: easy to get, cheap, tastes good, and heavily advertised.
Those combine to provide a strong push for people to eat unhealthy food.
"We have to go against the forces to reach out and get foods that will make us healthy," she said. One of the best ways to do that, Crawford said, is by providing students with easy access to cold, clean water.
The program could be extended to the state and national level if it's successful after the two years of study.
UCCE offers 'California Naturalist' program in Truckee
Aspiring naturalists may enroll in a 40-hour course this summer at UC Berkeley's Sagehen Creek Field Station near Truckee to receive classroom and field training in science, problem-solving, communication and community service, according to the Sierra Sun.
The 'California Naturalist' course fee of $350 includes course instruction, a PDF textbook, graduation certificate, website support and registration as a UC "California Naturalist."