- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Helping people attain financial security and healthy, active lives has been a career passion for Patti Wooten Swanson, UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for San Diego County. Wooten Swanson, who joined UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2001, retired July 1, 2019, from a career of research and outreach focused on family financial management and nutrition education to help San Diego County residents improve their lives.
Melinda Opperman has worked with Wooten Swanson on several campaigns promoting financial wellness that received proclamations from the San Diego City Council, mayor and board of supervisors.
“She was instrumental in improving people's financial lives and promoting the common purpose of financial wellness. Her work was critical,” said Opperman, executive vice president of Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management in National City.
In 2005, Wooten Swanson launched the annual San Diego Saves, part of the America Saves campaign, to encourage San Diegans to improve their financial security.
“The basic message is to encourage people to build wealth through systematic savings over an extended time, with an emphasis on saving and paying down debt,” Wooten Swanson said at the time. She persuaded consumer advocates, credit unions, banks and other local businesses to offer savers' clubs and money-management workshops. As part of San Diego Saves, several financial institutions offered savings accounts that could be opened with as little as $5 and no fees for 12 months.
In her research, the Cooperative Extension advisor found that people were more successful at building their savings if they wrote down a goal, such as buying a car. Wooten Swanson also encouraged saving through payroll or checking account deductions, saying, “You won't miss what you can't see.”
In her blog Small Steps To Health And Wealth, Wooten Swanson provided practical tips for consumers to eat healthfully, avoid foodborne illness and save money.
She also authored UC ANR's Financial Caregiving Series for adult children of aging parents. Recently Wooten Swanson co-chaired the Money Talks workgroup that developed “Living on Your Own” guidebooks, currently in production. The guidebooks outline living expenses low-income youth and young adults should consider before moving to their own apartments. As UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus, she plans to promote the Living on My Own program at professional society meetings.
An active community member, Wooten Swanson served on the San Diego County Food System Initiative leadership team and as a research partner with a volunteer gleaning program that provides fresh produce to food insecure families. She also trained social workers to give their clients just-in-time money management information.
Her contributions to the field of family and consumer sciences were recognized with the 2018 Leader Award from the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences' California affiliate. The National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences honored Wooten Swanson with its 2018 Excellence in MultiState Collaboration Award (Eastern Region) for her contributions to a NIFA Extension Project, and its 2017 Continued Excellence Award for her leadership and promotion of the professional development of others.
Wooten Swanson earned her Ph.D. in consumer science at Texas Woman's University, an M.Ed. in vocational education at North Texas State University and B.S. in home economics at Texas Christian University.
After a busy 44-year career in education, Wooten Swanson is enjoying spending more time with her husband, Jerry, at their home in San Diego and traveling. Once Quicken, her English springer spaniel, gets certified as a pet therapy dog, she plans to volunteer to cheer patients at Scripps Mercy Hospital.
- Author: Ricardo A. Vela
The purpose of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15–October 15) is to recognize the contributions and vital presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States. President Lyndon Johnson first approved Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, and it was expanded to a full month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
Why does Hispanic Heritage Month run from mid-September to mid-October? The date was chosen to bookend two milestones for Spanish speaking countries: the celebration of independence from Spain for Mexico, Chile, and, five Central American nations (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica) and Columbus Day / Día de la Raza. This day is mostly celebrated by the Italian Americans rather than Spanish-speaking immigrants.
In the fabric of our society, the impact of Hispanics is undeniable. It is important for the new generations that our contributions in forging this great nation are valued beyond food and music. From astronauts to physicists, Hispanics have contributed to better our lives. A few examples:
- Luis Walter Alvarez was an American experimental physicist, inventor, and professor who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1968.
- Franklin Ramón Chang Díaz is a Costa Rican American mechanical engineer, physicist, former NASA astronaut.
- Ellen O. Ochoa is a Hispanic-American engineer, former astronaut and former Director of the Johnson Space Center.
UC ANR joins in the celebration of Hispanic heritage by profiling four Latino academics, advisors, educators who serve their communities, day after day, applying the UC ANR public values:
- Fe Moncloa - 4-H Youth Development Advisor, UCCE Santa Clara County
- Jairo Diaz - Director of the UC Desert Research and Extension Center
- María de la Fuente – UC Cooperative Extension director in Monterey County and UCCE Farm & Master Gardener Advisor, Monterey & Santa Cruz counties.
- Aileen Carrasco-Trujillo - Bilingual Nutrition Educator, UCCE Santa Clara County
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
There's something magical about exercise. It impacts the body in many different ways, and all of them are good.
Exercise burns calories, improves cardiovascular health, tones muscles, boosts mood, and now scientists are learning that it also thwarts one of the most-feared symptoms of aging, memory loss.
Researchers at UC Irvine are conducting a 15-site national study on the effects of aerobic exercise on adults with mild memory problems. They are hoping to document evidence that will allow physicians to write prescriptions for exercise.
“Exercise is medicine,” said James Hicks, director of UC Irvine's Center for Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences.
To date, no effective drug therapies to treat dementia have been found.
“Since 2002, 420 clinical trials on drugs targeted for Alzheimer's have been launched. All of them failed,” Hicks said. “No drug will change its trajectory. But physical activity might.”
Another UC Irvine professor, Carl Cotman, agrees.
“That concept has exploded. That's where the future is: understanding how exercise alters disease trajectories and improves outcomes,” Cotman said.
Cotman's research showed that exercise increases production of a substance called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which aides in learning and memory and facilitates connections among nerve cells. It's so critical to brain function that it has been dubbed “Miracle-Gro for the brain.”
“Exercise builds brain health,” Cotman said. “It makes you more efficient. You're thinking cleaner. It introduces a state of readiness.”
UC ANR educators encourage Californians to exercise
While scientists study the impact of exercise at the molecular level, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources nutrition educators continue to emphasize the importance of physical activity when they teach youth and families ways to improve their lives with healthy eating and movement.
UC ANR's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is offered in 24 counties in California. It is administered by UC Cooperative Extension offices. EFNEP educators help limited-resource families gain the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behavior necessary to choose nutritionally sound diets and improve their well-being.
Families who participated in the program have said that it transformed their lives for the better. They have changed what their family eats, switched to low-fat milk instead of whole milk and have fruit for snacks. They eat more vegetables and fruit and thaw meat and poultry in the refrigerator. Some walk daily, others play games with their children. Almost all use store ads and unit pricing to get the best shopping deals.
CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California is another nutrition education program administered by UCCE. It helps children and adults choose a healthy lifestyle by encouraging good food habits and decision making skills. Adult nutrition education is provided at no cost to low-income families. The youth nutrition education program provides support and resources to preschool through high school teachers in low-income schools to deliver nutrition and physical activity education in their classrooms.
CalFresh Healthy Living, UC helps families find parks in their neighborhoods so they can stay active, and shows how they can join sports team and locate public pools. The training acknowledges that it can be difficult to add exercise to busy lives, and helps participants overcome the barriers.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend:
- 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity per week, or 30 minutes five times per week
- Strength and resistance training two times per week
- Flexibility exercises two to three times per week
“Perhaps the most common barrier is a lack of time,” said CalFresh Healthy Living, UC nutrition program coordinator Austin Cantrell. “In order to implement an exercise routine into our lives, many of us will need to plan out our day and see where we can fit exercise into our schedule.”
An important thing to remember, Cantrell said, is that exercise doesn't have to happen all at once.
“If you exercise for 10 minutes three times throughout your day, you will have met your 30-minute requirement,” he said. “If we exercise for 10 minutes before we go to work, take a 10-minute walking break while at work and exercise for 10 minutes after work, we will meet our recommended amount of physical activity for the day.”
A way to save time is engaging in vigorous physical activity, which cuts exercise time recommendation to 75 minutes a week. How can you tell the difference between “moderate” physical activity and “vigorous” physical activity? Examples of moderate activity are walking or gardening. Vigorous physical activity includes running, sprinting or swimming.
“Typically, you will be able to hold a conversation during moderate activity, but will be unable to sing,” Cantrell said. “During vigorous activity, you will not be able to have a conversation without considerable shortness of breath or pausing.”
Some people feel more motivated to be physically active by combining it with activities they enjoy.
“Spend time with your children playing outdoors or playing sports,” Cantrell suggests. “Seek social support by joining walking clubs or recreational sports leagues.”
Should doctors write prescriptions for exercise? By Shari Roan, UC Irvine
Overcoming barriers to exercise By Austin Cantrell, CalFresh Healthy Living, UC
- Author: Rose Marie Hayden-Smith
Happy Fourth of July! It's time to get the barbecue grilling and the pool party started. To keep your summer healthy and fun, UC ANR offers some important safety tips.
Food poisoning is a serious health threat in the United States, especially during the hot summer months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 Americans suffer from a foodborne illness each year, resulting in thousands of hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
Both the CDC and USDA suggest four key rules to follow to keep food safe:
- Clean: Clean kitchen surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water while preparing food. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water.
- Separate: Separate raw meats from other foods by using different cutting boards. And be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from other items in your refrigerator.
- Cook: Cook foods to the right temperature; be sure to check internal temperature by using a food thermometer.
- Chill: Chill raw and prepared foods promptly.
Here are some additional tips from the USDA. Be sure to check out the CDC's comprehensive food safety website, which also has materials in both Spanish and English. For food safety tips in real time, follow USDA Food Safety on Twitter.
Summer also means more outside grilling, which can pose unique food safety concerns. Before firing up the barbeque, check out these five easy tips from UC Davis.
Handling food safety on the road
Before you take off on a road trip, camping adventure or boating excursion, don't forget to consider food safety. You'll need to plan ahead and invest in a good cooler.
Remember, warns the USDA, don't let food sit out for more than 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees F. And discard any food left out more than 2 hours; after only 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees F.
If there are any doubts about how long the food was out, it is best to throw it out!
Be sure to bring plenty of water, too, to stay well-hydrated.
Get more food safety tips for traveling from the USDA.
Avoid heat illness
“Summer can be a time for fun and relaxation, but in warm climates, we need to stay aware of the signs of heat illness and help keep our family members and co-workers safe,” says Brian Oatman, Director of Risk & Safety Services at UC ANR.
“UC ANR provides comprehensive resources on our website, but it's designed around California requirements for workplace safety.” But, Oatman notes, much of the information applies.
The training and basic guidance – drink water, take a rest when you are feeling any symptoms and having a shaded area available – are useful for anyone at any time.
To increase your awareness of heat illness symptoms – and to learn more about prevention – Oatman suggests a few resources.
“Our Heat Illness Prevention page has many resources, including links for training, heat illness prevention plans, and links to other sites. One of the external sites for heat illness that I recommend is the Cal/OSHA site, which spells out the basic requirements for heat illness prevention in the workplace. It's also available in Spanish."
For those on the go, Oatman also suggests the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) mobile heat safety app.
Have a great (and safe) summer!/h2>/h2>/h2>
- Author: Deepa Srivastava
UCCE in Kings County leverages community partnerships to increase preschoolers awareness about healthy foods
Early childhood is critical to the development of lifelong healthy living. With this intent, UCCE, in partnership with the Department of Hospitality Management at West Hills Community College-Lemoore and preschools located at the college campus, embraced a collaborative approach to promote healthy eating by helping preschoolers learn about and taste Go Glow Grow foods.
Together, we can make a difference!
An innovative and collaborative integration of research and practice brought diverse stakeholders together.
- Deepa Srivastava, UCCE Advisor Nutrition, Family & Consumer Sciences from Tulare/Kings initiated the needs assessment, monitored evaluation process, and conducted focus groups.
- Susan Lafferty, Nutrition Educator of Kings County UC CalFresh nutrition education program implemented the Go Glow Grow curriculum.
- Nancy Jeffcoach, Site Supervisor of West Hills Child Development Center, Lemoore planned the timeline for preschoolers who received the curriculum.
- Christian Raia, Program Director /Coordinator Hotel Restaurant Casino Management Faculty-West Hills College planned and supported the culinary students' implementation of food demonstrations, taste tests, and recipe sharing. The reinforcement of Go Glow Grow MyPlate food group concepts was integrated into students' capstone project.
During April and May 2019, collaborative partnership efforts captivated preschoolers' attention with key MyPlate messages and taste tests. Susan Lafferty led six weeks of the Go Glow Grow curricula with 72 preschoolers. Twelve community college students from the culinary department shared recipes and conducted food demonstrations and taste tests. Nine preschool teachers consistently supported the program. Preschoolers received a graduation certificate and a chefs hat upon completing the program.
“Glow foods make my hair grow, eyes sparkle, and skin soft."
Initial success stories, lesson observations, and activities indicated increased knowledge of preschoolers about MyPlate food groups and willingness to try foods from all food groups. A majority of preschoolers responded to the importance of eating Go Glow Grow food.
Taking home key messages
It also seems the preschoolers are taking key messages home. One preschool teacher mom shared this story:
So [preschooler name] is eating her dinner and she looks up at me and says, "ya know, chicken isn't on my plate."
"Um, yes it is, it's right there..."
"No," she says,"it's not anywhere on My Plate!"
"Oh, like the healthy choices My Plate? Yes it is, it's protein. I think it's red."
"Red is fruit momma, it's a glow food!"
So at this point I pull up the graphic. She is right–that it would be purple as a protein. She informs me that I should study it. But she'll help me and show me where the vegetables are as she loudly chews a cucumber in my ear. She's been telling me which foods have which vitamins and bringing the conversation to the table at every meal.
"You guys are doing amazing things. I see it in my program and now I get to see it in my child. So thank you!"
Positive learning experiences result from meaningful interaction
Upon completion of the program, two focus groups were conducted to understand the program impact at the individual and environmental levels of the social-ecological model. It was encouraging to note the response from participating community college students about their learning experiences and the changes that they have observed for themselves and the preschoolers as a result of this program.
A majority of the students indicated that they “loved” Go Glow Grow concepts of MyPlate and the meaningful “interaction” with the preschoolers.
A sustainable foundation is established
Overall, “mutually reinforcing goals, collective impact, commitment, trust, consistency, strong partnerships and communication, curriculum, evaluation tools”- all factored in to keep the momentum for the community partners.
What began as a needs assessment to examine the nutrition practices of early childhood education settings, ended on a promising note to continue promoting the health and well-being of young children. Indeed, a strong and sustainable foundation is established to carry forward UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' strategic initiative of healthy families and communities.