- Author: Mike Hsu
At the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health convened since 1969, President Biden announced on Sept. 28 a national strategy “to end hunger in America and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030 so fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases.” Much of the foundational research undergirding the strategy has been informed in part by the Nutrition Policy Institute, a program of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“Science is the work of many – and no one study answers all the questions – but we have a tremendous body of work that has contributed to this conference, building from all the programs and changes that were made from the last conference,” said NPI director Lorrene Ritchie.
The original Nixon-era conference produced about 1,800 recommendations – and 1,600 were eventually implemented in the subsequent years, according to Stacy Dean, U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.
A litany of far-reaching programs grew from or were propelled by the 1969 conference: the School Breakfast Program, WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)-Ed and CalFresh Healthy Living UC, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and more.
This history illustrates the potential for sweeping change from this 2022 conference – which gathered about 500 experts and advocates (with 1,000 more participating online) – and from the national strategy that represents the Biden-Harris administration's “playbook.”
“Does that document have everything in it that we would like? No – but, oh my goodness, if we could accomplish all the things that they've laid out, what a transformational impact it would have,” said Ritchie, adding that she was thrilled that the highest levels of government are prioritizing hunger and nutrition-related chronic disease.
Including beverages in the conversation
“NPI's recommendations were built on lots of work by many water researchers and advocates over the years; they're based on many years of thinking by many people,” Hecht said.
Christina and Ken Hecht, NPI policy director, also submitted recommendations as part of the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Reduction Workgroup, which brings together experts from national, state and local organizations. Several of their key proposals, such as targeting the marketing of sugary drinks and clarifying front-of-package nutrition labels, appear as recommended steps in the national strategy document.
Other nutrition policy changes compiled by Christina Hecht – like updating the Federal Food Service Guidelines used on federal properties and in federal programs – are also reflected in the national strategy, albeit without specifically mentioning sugary drinks. Nonetheless, Hecht believes doors have been opened for future discussions that could incorporate and promote healthy beverages.
“What those doors require are continuing to develop the evidence base, continuing to translate and share the evidence base, and continuing the advocacy to bring that evidence base to the attention of decision makers,” she said.
University of California setting an example
Suzanna Martinez, an NPI-affiliated researcher who attended the White House conference, said she hopes the convening generates momentum for two bills before Congress that would help alleviate food insecurity in higher education: one that provides funding for campuses to address students' basic needs, and another that reduces barriers to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps). The national strategy document explicitly acknowledges that “SNAP's college student eligibility restrictions are out of date given the current population who seek higher education credentials.”
Martinez, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at University of California San Francisco, was invited to the conference because she's part of a group driving the UC's effort to halve the number of students facing food insecurity across the system by 2030. That commitment, and UC Berkeley's work on basic needs, were highlighted by Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff during the closing plenary session.
“The work that we're doing here in California tends to set the stage for what happens in other states,” said Martinez, who also cited California's pioneering effort to provide meals for all public school students.
NPI's ongoing work evaluating universal school meals in California and other states is just one example of how its academics and staff are refining innovative programs so they can be adopted more effectively and broadly (perhaps nationally). In fact, the White House identified “healthy school meals for all” as the top strategy for improving food access and affordability, and Ritchie applauds the administration's consistent emphasis on early interventions for healthier outcomes.
“The earlier you can create healthy habits – meaning in utero all the way through childhood – the more likely you are going to have adults who don't end up with nutrition-related chronic diseases,” she explained. “The last thing you want to do is to wait until people are really sick before they start to change their habits.”
Another overarching theme that excites Ritchie is the national strategy's “whole of government” approach to addressing a host of nutrition and hunger issues. One example is how the strategy calls for agencies not traditionally associated with food to contribute to reducing waste, such as the Department of the Treasury clarifying tax benefits for businesses that donate food.
“Throughout the document, over and over again, there are countless examples of creating synergies across government agencies and with local and state governments that can help move the needle,” Ritchie said. “It's just this kind of bold call to action that we really need.”/h3>/h3>
Christopher Chen joined UC Cooperative Extension Jan.10 as an integrated vineyard systems advisor for Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties.
Chen earned a B.S. in agronomy, a B.A. in economics, an M.S. in agronomy with specialization in viticulture and a Ph.D. in horticulture and agronomy with specialization in viticulture, all at UC Davis.
While in the master's program at UC Davis, Chen researched the efficacy of shade nets as heat-damage reduction tools for wine grapes at the UC Oakville Research Station in Napa Valley. He also assisted in field projects across California ranging from Delano and Paso Robles to Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. During his doctoral studies, Chen tested the salinity tolerance of wild and cultivated grapevine rootstocks stored at the UC Davis germplasm collection.
In his personal time, Chen enjoys playing guitar and venturing across California with his partner and Australian Shepherd.
Chen is headquartered at Hopland Research and Extension Center and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GrapeProblems.
Ian Smith has joined Human Resources as manager of employee and labor relations. He succeeds MaryVlandis, who retired in June. He will oversee the staff human relations and employee and labor relations functions.
Smith comes to UC ANR from the UC Systemwide Human Resources/Labor Relations Division of the Office of the President, where he has worked extensively in the collective bargaining process for the last eight years.
Prior to his work with UCOP, Smith worked in human resources in nonprofit human services as well as public utilities, and he has a wide range of HR experience in both the private and public sector on both the management and union sides.
He holds a Master in Public Administration degree and an undergraduate degree in music.
Five scientists affiliated with UC ANR are among 564 newly elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced Jan. 26.
AAAS fellows are scientists, engineers and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines ranging from research, teaching and technology, to administration in academia, industry and government, to excellence in communicating and interpreting science to the public.
Helene Dillard, dean of UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, was selected “For exemplary contributions to cross-disciplinary academic administration and global public outreach; for research in plant biology, ecology and management of fungal diseases; for agricultural production; and for mentoring and teaching.”
Linda J. Harris, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, was selected “For distinguished contributions to the field of food safety microbiology especially related to control of Salmonella and other pathogens in low-moisture foods and fresh produce.”
Kathryn Uhrich, dean of UC Riverside's College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and a participating faculty member in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, was selected for her contributions to the field of biodegradable polymers “that serve a critical need in therapeutics/drug delivery and service to the chemistry community.”
Rodrigo P. P. Almeida, UC Berkeley professor of emerging infectious disease ecology and the Hildebrand-Laumeister Chair in Plant Pathology, was selected for distinguished contributions to the field of ecology, particularly for experimental and modeling work on the ecology, evolution and management of insect-transmitted plant pathogens.
Paolo D'Odorico, UC Berkeley professor of environmental science, policy and management, was selected for major scientific advances in ecohydrology and food-water-energy systems.
An induction ceremony for the new fellows will take place during the AAAS annual meeting, to be held online this year Feb. 17-20.
Founded in 1848, AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science and other journals. Its mission is to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement and more.
Jaspreet Sidhu, UCCE vegetable crops advisor in Kern County, has been named one of the Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 by fruit and vegetable industry members across the country.
This honor is reserved exclusively for outstanding young industry professionals who are demonstrating exceptional commitment to making their mark in the industry through innovation and leadership.
Sidhu's applied research and extension program is directed towards developing, evaluating, and implementing pest management practices in commercial vegetable cropping systems. The overall goal of her program is to enhance the profitability and sustainability of vegetable production in Kern County and across California. Sidhu earned her B.S. and M.S. from Punjab Agricultural University in India and her Ph.D. in entomology from Louisiana State University.
The Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2021 was honored during a reception at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO on Dec. 7. Gary Pullano, editor of Fruit Growers News, and Stephen Kloosterman, associate editor of Fruit Growers News, presented the honorees with a certificate and gift bag.
Read more about the Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2021 at https://vegetablegrowersnews.com/40under40.
Anita Oberholster, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, was selected by the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) as the 2022 Leader of the Year.
CAWG President John Aguirre said, “Dr. Oberholster is an esteemed researcher and leading voice as an educator and expert on the complicated issues surrounding wildfire smoke and winegrapes. Her relentless drive to help by sharing her expertise and frequent communication have been incredibly beneficial to growers and vintners, and CAWG appreciates all that she has done for California's winegrowers.”
The Leader of the Year Award recognizes an individual whose record of exceptional leadership has benefitted California's wine industry and is an inspiration to others. The recipient has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to issues of significant importance to winegrape growers and has achieved lasting changes to promote and protect the interests of California winegrape growers.
As a UCCE specialist, Oberholster focuses on continuing education for the grape and wine industry, while her research program concentrates on current issues in the grape and wine industry. Her core research program focuses on the influence of viticultural practices and environmental factors on grape ripening and composition, and related wine quality and investigations to determine the influence of different vinification practices on wine composition and quality.
Since 2017, smoke exposure in winegrapes has become one of her primary research subjects. She is investigating the absorption of volatile phenols on to grapes and the subsequent impact on wine composition and quality. Oberholster has been instrumental in the research and dissemination of information regarding smoke exposed fruit. She has been an active member of the West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force and a presenter for CAWG-supported webinars and meetings.
Oberholster received the award on Jan. 25 during the 2022 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento.
Light wins Conservation Education Award
Sarah Light, UC Cooperative Extension agronomy advisor for Sutter, Yuba, and Colusa counties, won the Conservation Education Award from the Soil and water Conservation Society's California/Nevada chapter. Light and Liz Harper, executive director of Colusa Resource Conservation District, share the award for Soil Health Connection, a series of videos they produced. The award was presented Jan. 7 during a webinar.
The Soil Health Connection connects farmers with experts in the fields of soil health and agronomy. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, soil health consists of five principles: soil armor, minimal soil disturbance, plant diversity, continual live plants/roots, and livestock integration.
Light and Harper interviewed farmers, scientists, policy advocates, and farm advisors who are involved in improving soil health in the Sacramento Valley. The 35 videos range from a two-minute video demonstrating a soil nitrate quick test to longer interviews about soil health, grazing, cultivation practices and policy.
See the Soil Health Connection on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRI4lXL4f_ro_Flnp4lu6IA.
The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB) has designated Lorrene Ritchie as a Platinum Author.
Over the past 10 years, Ritchie has been author or co-author of more than 10 papers published in JNEB, according to Editor-in-Chief Karen Chapman-Novakofski.
“We recognize that authors have many choices when selecting the right place to publish and are pleased that you have chosen JNEB, the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior's peer-reviewed journal, so often as an outlet for your research,” Chapman-Novakofski wrote. “We hope you will consider JNEB for your papers in the future to continue advancing research, practice and policy. We truly appreciate the excellent manuscripts you send.”
Tracy Schohr joined UCCE on Oct. 16, 2017, as an area livestock and natural resources advisor in Plumas, Sierra and Butte counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Schohr worked for the Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis (2012-2014), where she co-led research projects on working rangelands focused on irrigated pasture, mountain meadows, livestock predation, annual rangelands and invasive species. She is a managing partner for Schohr Ranch (rice, cattle, walnuts and wetland management) where she is engaged in all facets of the operation from livestock production, financial accounting, equipment operation, human resources and marketing. From 2015 to 2017, Schohr also worked as a farmer outreach specialist for K-COE Isom, a national agricultural accounting and consulting firm, where she was a scientific and agricultural advisor on conservation initiatives. From 2006 to 2012, Schohr was the director of rangeland conservation for the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition. From 2004 to 2006, she served as director of industry affairs for the California Cattlemen's Association.
She completed an M.S. in horticulture and agronomy (rangeland focus) from UC Davis and a B.S. in agricultural business from CSU Chico.
Based in Quincy, Schohr can be reached at (530) 283-6262, cell (916) 716-2643 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @BeefnSushi.
Mary Bonaparte-Saller joined UCCE on Oct. 9 as a 4-H youth development advisor in Orange County.
Prior to joining UCCE, Bonaparte-Saller taught third- to fifth-grade classroom and field lessons at Sierra Nevada Journeys, a science and environmental education nonprofit. From 2011 to 2016, Bonaparte-Saller was a graduate student researcher at UC Davis, where she studied the social behavior and welfare of zoo elephants and mentored and supervised undergraduate research volunteers. During this time, she also engaged in youth education and outreach activities as a volunteer for the Kids into Discovering Science (KiDS) Program at UCD, Sacramento's Powerhouse Science Center, and the Sacramento Zoo.
She earned a Ph.D. in animal behavior at UC Davis and a B.S. biological sciences at UC Irvine.
Bonaparte-Saller is based in Irvine and can be reached at (949) 653-1814 and email@example.com.
Randi Black joined UCCE on Oct. 2 as an area dairy systems advisor in Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Black was a graduate research assistant at University of Tennessee (2013-2016) and University of Kentucky (2010-2012), leading and supervising dairy cow behavior research projects.
Born and raised in Versailles, Ky., Black ventured into agriculture working with thoroughbred race horses, but realized her passion for the dairy industry as an undergraduate.
She earned a B.S. and an M.S. in animal science at the University of Kentucky. Her thesis focused on the management of compost bedded pack barns within Kentucky dairy farms. She earned a Ph.D. in animal science from University of Tennessee. Her dissertation focused on the use of exercise during late gestation to improve postpartum health in dairy cows.
Black is based in Santa Rosa and can be reached at (707) 565-2648 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brooke Latack joined UCCE on Oct. 2 as an area desert livestock advisor in Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Latack worked in multiple positions at the Michigan State University Animal Air Quality Research Facility. As an undergraduate research assistant, professional aid, and graduate research assistant, Latack worked with beef, swine and poultry evaluating and addressing the environmental impact of management decisions in animal agriculture. Her primary research integrated systems dynamics feedback into understanding the environmental sustainability of animal protein production.
She earned a B.S. and an M.S. in animal science from Michigan State University.
Latack is based in Holtville and can be reached at (442) 265-7700 and email@example.com.
Matthew Shapero joined UC ANR as a UCCE livestock and range advisor serving Ventura and Santa Barbara counties on Sept. 5. Prior to starting as an advisor, Matthew worked for the Rangeland Planning & Policy and the Rangeland Ecology labs at UC Berkeley and worked as a graduate student researcher at Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center. Shapero also has experience in small-scale, grass-fed meat production, working as rancher in the Sierra Nevada foothills between 2010 and 2016.
As one of ANR's Global Food Initiative fellows and Graduate Students in Extension in 2015-16, Shapero led a group of UC Berkeley graduate students in organizing seminars and workshops about careers with Cooperative Extension, including the Cooperative Extension Showcase, which brings UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists to the Berkeley campus to discuss their work and to network with graduate students.
He completed an M.S. in range management from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in religion and pre-med from Columbia University.
Shapero is based in Ventura and can be reached at (805) 645-1475 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith Taylor joined UCCE as a community economic development specialist in the Department of Human Ecology at UC Davis on July 1, 2017.
Taylor earned a Ph.D. in human and community development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.S. in public sdministration from the University of Illinois, and a B.A. in political science from Eastern Illinois University.
Prior to joining UC, Taylor worked as a research associate and visiting scholar with the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University Bloomington, where his research focused on the community economic development spillovers from renewable energy and food systems development. Taylor has worked extensively with co-operative businesses and marginalized communities to identify sustainable community economic development strategies that enhance the well-being of the local population. His forthcoming book, “Governing the Wind Energy Commons,” analyzes the community economic differentials of community and investor-owned wind energy, a culmination of three years of research in rural North Dakota and Illinois. Taylor has served in governance capacities for Common Ground Food Cooperative and as chair of the board for Indiana Cooperative Development Center, and We Own It, “the national network for cooperative members' rights, education, and organizing.” He also has experience in public policy, having worked as a legislative aide for former Congressman David Phelps.
Taylor is based at UC Davis and can be reached at email@example.com.
Scott Brayton and Kelly Scott have joined Development Services as major gifts officers, raising philanthropic support and building relationships that serve to advance ANR's programs.
Brayton has been with the UC system for 27 years primarily with UC Davis Athletics as the assistant athletics director responsible for marketing and corporate relations. Most recently he has served as a contract negotiation consultant with UC Davis accounting and financial services. In his roles, Brayton has raised over $25 million in funds for UC Davis programs, facilities and students.
A 2001 graduate of California State University, Chico, Scott has a degree in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing. He has worked in higher education at UC Davis for more than 14 years. He has held previous fundraising positions at UC Davis with the COSMOS program (California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science), the College of Engineering, and the Cal Aggie Alumni Association.
Lorrene D. Ritchie, Nutrition Policy Institute director, received the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation's 34th annual Huddleson Award for the article “School Breakfast Policy Is Associated with Dietary Intake of Fourth- and Fifth-Grade Students” published in the March 2016 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2016;116(3):449-457).
The coauthors for the article include Lauren E. Au, PhD, RD, assistant researcher; Lauren H. Goldstein, PhD, director of operations, Nutrition Policy Institute, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California; Nila J. Rosen, MPH, senior associate, Informing Change, Berkeley, CA; at the time of the study, she was a research associate, Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California, Berkeley; Keenan Fenton, MA, biostatistician, Seattle Genetics, Bothell, WA; at the time of the study, he was a research data analyst, Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California, Berkeley; and Tia Shimada, MPH, managing director nutrition policy advocate, California Food Policy Advocates, Oakland, CA.
The prestigious Huddleson Award honors a registered dietitian nutritionist who was the lead author of a peer-reviewed article that made an important contribution to the dietetics profession and that was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics during the previous calendar year.
The award, named for Mary Pascoe Huddleson, editor of the Journal from 1927 to 1946, carries a $1,000 honorarium, and the winner is invited to attend the foundation dinner at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo.
- Author: Liz Sizensky
The Nutrition Policy Institute has launched a news brief called Research to Action. The publication will provide information on research, policy, news, announcements, events, articles and action items focused on nutrition and healthy communities.
The first issue looks at the work of the National Drinking Water Alliance (NDWA). NPI is the “hub” for NDWA, which engages in and coordinates evidence-based efforts going on all over the country to improve tap water safety and access, especially for children, and to provide drinking water education and promotion. The NDWA website is a “go-to” resource for information on drinking water.
Future editions of Research to Action will be sent several times per year. Please sign up for the Research to Action mailing list, and please share Research to Action with colleagues who would be interested in receiving it.
“We visited offices of 26 of California's 55-member congressional delegation in two days!” said Lucas Frerichs, government and community relations manager.
On March 6-9, a UC ANR delegation attended the 35th Annual Council on Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) meetings in Washington D.C. CARET is part of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). They also made congressional visits to explain the importance of science and research to California.
Vice President Glenda Humiston was joined by AVP Wendy Powers, UCB College of Natural Resources Dean Keith Gilless, UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences Dean Kathryn Uhrich, Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist Clare Gupta, Chief Innovation Officer Gabe Youtsey, and Frerichs. Industry partners Bill Frost, former UC ANR AVP; Cher Watte, executive director of the California Asparagus Commission; Mike Mellano, fresh cut flower grower; Dina Moore, Humboldt County rancher; and Jean-Mari Peltier, managing partner of Environmental Solutions Group, served as CARET delegates from California.
The group split up into teams to visit the offices of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, agriculture committee members, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and other California representatives.
Although no U.S. secretary of agriculture had been confirmed at the time of their visit, members expressed their support for agriculture.
“One thing that members of Congress – Republicans and Democrats – can certainly agree on is that the support for agriculture and the University of California is strong,” Frerichs said.
Read more about the CARET visits in Powers' ANR Adventures blog.