Posts Tagged: UC CalFresh
To supplement their food supply, Californians can turn to the CalFresh program, which was formerly known as food stamps. The federal program is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
To help CalFresh participants stretch their food dollars and maintain a nutritious diet, the University of California’s CalFresh Nutrition Education Program offers a series of four workshops called "Plan, Shop, Save and Cook." In a follow-up survey, UC Cooperative Extension advisors Dorothy Smith and Marcel Horowitz found that one-third of the 1,373 people who participated in the workshops said they weren’t running out of food by the end of the month as often.
In the first workshop, people learn the benefits of preparing a balanced meal plan. To do this, they discuss building meals around store specials, foods on-hand and leftovers, while including family favorites.
During the second workshop, participants read the nutrition labels on foods and learn how to make the best nutritional choices while shopping.
In the third workshop, UC CalFresh instructors show the participants how to determine the least expensive options for the items on their grocery list. For example, if buying beef, chuck roast is cheaper and contains less fat than sirloin. Unit pricing, bulk purchases, generic brands, convenience items, alternative protein sources and preventing spoilage and waste are things to consider when choosing food products.
During the final workshop, the participants prepare and taste dishes made with low-cost nutritious foods. They put their new knowledge into practice by creating a one-week meal plan.
In San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, UC CalFresh have teamed up with local food banks to encourage families to eat more fruits and vegetables. Using fresh produce from the food banks, UC CalFresh nutrition representatives prepared fruits and vegetables in healthful dishes, which were tasted by participating families.
UC CalFresh is showing Californians that nutritious and tasty meals don’t have to cost a lot.
Betsy Knapp, a former social worker, always knew that she loved helping people. But the experience of becoming a UC CalFresh Master Education Extender revealed her passion for nutrition education.
The Master Education Extender Team (MEET) was designed to recruit volunteers in the community and train them to extend UC CalFresh family-centered nutrition education in the community.
MEET is growing rapidly. Just nine months old, MEET has six active extenders who have delivered nutrition education based on USDA's MyPlate guidelines at various targeted community events and within Fresno Unified School District schools.
We have received a great response from interested community members whose backgrounds vary from pre-med students to UC CalFresh nutrition education series graduates. Fifteen new extender trainees are registered for our next quarterly orientation.
“I believe that had I not volunteered with MEET, I never would have found this great job doing exactly what I love and was trained to do," Betsy said. "I don’t think people realize that MEET is a great opportunity for professional development. This program is needed in our community.”
To learn more about MEET or to complete an application to participate in the program, visit our website.
These classes impart an array of useful skills onto beginner gardeners, potentially translating into positive outcomes, such as improved diet and savings on groceries.
What to do with all of that home-grown produce?
With funding from the UC Agriculture Sustainability Institute - Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, we were able to incorporate nutrition lessons and cooking demonstrations into the 4-week garden series by training Master Gardener volunteers to deliver Fresh from the Garden lessons into low-income community gardens. This is a resource that was designed to increase gardeners' knowledge of healthful eating habits, while emphasizing the health benefits associated with a vegetable-rich diet. Each Fresh from the Garden lesson features preparation and tasting of a healthy fresh vegetable recipe. Through these lessons, the beginner gardeners learned how to store, prepare and cook a wide variety of home-grown vegetables alongside the gardening instruction.
Reaping the benefits of vegetable gardening
Through this project we have demonstrated promising results with the combination of gardening, cooking and nutrition instruction. We plan to continue the delivery of Fresh from the Garden in the coming year through the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in coordination with the Master Gardener Program. CalFresh (formerly Food Stamp) participants are allowed to use their benefits to purchase seeds and plants for household consumption, which opens the door for exciting possibilities for this program!
The beauty of MyPlate is that the graphic is simple, but the website is incredibly rich in information for the public and professionals alike. My favorite feature on the website is the SuperTracker, where you can get a personalized nutrition and physical activity plan. SuperTracker can become your virtual nutrition coach, urging you to meet your health goals through weekly emails.
There is also a great series of handouts called Ten Tips Nutrition Education Series. These free downloadable handouts are created in English and Spanish to help consumers get started toward a healthy diet. There are 20 different topics available now, and even more to come later.
In June, my colleague and I had the pleasure of presenting MyPlate resources and activities to home economics teachers attending a conference in Garden Grove, Calif. We encouraged the teachers to connect with their local UC Cooperative Extension office where the nutrition education professionals have developed creative MyPlate activities to supplement existing nutrition education curricula.
Here's to a successful first year with MyPlate and a job-well-done to the educators and nutrition professionals who have worked so hard to extend these valuable resources to our schools and communities!
Last Friday I had the opportunity to speak to a group of residents at the LA Family Housing, Valley Shelter in North Hollywood. We met outdoors amidst sprouting tomato plants, low-hanging loquats and variety of fruits and vegetables being grown in a beautiful garden setting.
It was not my first time visiting this tranquil North Hollywood shelter garden. I have come several times before to talk to the residents about nutrition, health and the importance of making smart food choices on a limited budget. I was due to return this spring to speak to the new residents who arrived since my last visit.
A Model of Success
This garden is not only producing an abundance of food for the residents of the shelter and the surrounding community, it has also served as a model of success for our UC CalFresh/ UC Master Gardener collaboration. Two highly motivated Master Gardener volunteers, Laurie Liles and Bettina Gatti, and an on-site garden manager, Richard Arpad, have regularly delivered UC CalFresh “Fresh from the Garden” lessons at this site for the past two years. The lessons have been well received by the shelter residents, many of whom enjoy the calming, therapeutic effect of spending time in the garden.
Nutrition Education in the Garden
I was invited to speak to the residents about making healthy food choices on a limited budget; an important, well-timed class for some individuals getting ready to transition out of the shelter. I delivered an abbreviated version of UC CalFresh’s newly adapted “Plan, Shop, Save & Cook” series. I came equipped with flyers from a local discount grocery store, and asked participants to plan a healthy meal using ingredients on sale. This activity spurred a lively discussion around preferred shopping habits and cooking techniques, and no one had any trouble planning a well-balanced, affordable meal. In fact, all of the meals sounded delicious, especially since we were leading up to the lunch hour!
I was also asked to bring back the ever-popular “rethink your drink” display. Residents were amazed by the high sugar content of their favorite beverages, and quickly made the connection between potential savings on sugary drinks and the healthy foods that could be purchased in their place. To bring home the message, the garden manager served water flavored with lemon and strawberries to demonstrate healthy alternatives to juices and sodas. The perfect beverage to enjoy on a warm, Southern California day!
Valuable Information to Last Lifetime
While at the garden, I was sure to recognize the great work being done by the garden manager and the Master Gardener volunteers. Due to the efforts of Richard Arpad, Laurie Liles and Bettina Gatti, residents at the LA Family Housing, Valley Shelter are learning how to grow their own food. This is an invaluable skill that has the potential to impact the diet and health of these individuals for a lifetime. The hard work and dedication of Richard, Laurie and Bettina is an inspiration to us all!