In the United States, over 25 million people work and learn at colleges and universities, consuming an untold number of meals, snacks, and beverages while on campus. Unlike in K-12 schools, higher education institutions are not governed by federal policies to ensure that foods and beverages sold on campus meet minimum nutrition standards. While many universities participate in voluntary campus wellness initiatives, only one university–the University of California (UC), Berkeley–has officially adopted a comprehensive, campus-wide nutrition policy, the Food and Beverage Choices (FBC) Policy. Researchers at the UC Nutrition Policy Institute and UC Berkeley collaborated with the FBC policy implementation team to publish a case report in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, presenting detailed information on the development, establishment, implementation and evaluation of the FBC policy. The report includes discussion of the challenges and barriers encountered during policy implementation and offers valuable insight for other universities seeking to develop and implement their own nutrition policies. The report was developed by Zachary Rickrode-Fernandez of Center for Environmental Health and UC Berkeley, Janice Kao of the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, and Mary Lesser and Kim Guess of UC Berkeley.
Over 40% of US children ages 2-5 years consume sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), a concerning statistic given SSB are a leading contributor to child obesity. One-in-three children eat at quick-service restaurants on any given day and policies that require restaurant kids' meals to offer only healthy default beverages are one strategy to improve children's beverage intake. Researchers at the University of California (UC) Nutrition Policy Institute and the University of Delaware Center for Research in Education and Social Policy recently examined restaurant beverage offerings in 111 quick-service restaurants in California and 16 quick- and full-service restaurants in Wilmington, Delaware before and after restaurant healthy default beverage policies were implemented. California law, SB1192, requires that only water and unflavored milk or a non-dairy equivalent be offered with restaurant kids' meals. The Wilmington policy, ordinance no. 18-046, allows for flavored milk and unsweetened 100% juice or juice diluted with water in addition to the beverages allowed in California. Observations of restaurant menus showed improvement from 2019 to 2020 in beverages offered with kids' meals in California, but not in Wilmington, post-policy. However, during orders of kids' meals, only 1% of restaurant cashiers or servers offered the healthy default beverage in California and none in Wilmington after the policies went into effect. Less than one in four restaurant managers interviewed in California knew about the beverage policy, and none did so in Wilmington, despite most managers in both California and Wilmington expressing support for the policy. This study suggests the need for additional efforts to strengthen the implementation of kids' meal beverage policies. The study was published in the journal Public Health Nutrition by NPI researchers Lorrene Ritchie, Phoebe Harpainter, Marisa Tsai, Gail Woodward-Lopez and Wendi Gosliner in collaboration with Tara Tracy, Kathleen McCallops and Allison Karpyn from the University of Delaware and Isabel Thompson from UC Berkeley. The study was funded by the California Department of Public Health, with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – USDA SNAP, a grant to Duke University from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture's Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program provides grants to corner stores in disadvantaged neighborhoods to purchase energy-efficient refrigeration units for stocking California-grown fresh produce, nuts and minimally processed foods. Nutrition Policy Institute's (NPI) Marisa Tsai, Caroline Long, and Wendi Gosliner are evaluating this initiative. A new report shares findings from interviews with participating storeowners, describing their practices and opinions regarding stocking, pricing, wasting, and generally managing produce sales as well as their experiences with the grant program. This is the second in a series of reports on the Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program evaluation.
Lorrene Ritchie, director and cooperative extension specialist, and Gail Woodward-Lopez, director of research at the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) were quoted in an August 25, 2020 article in Morning Ag Clips titled "New policies can help provide healthy beverages to children." The article highlights California's Healthy Default Beverage law, California State Senate Bill 1192, which requires that all restaurants in California as of January 6, 2019 offer only healthy beverages -- plain water or unflavored milk -- as the default beverage with kids' meals. The article also highlights research findings from NPI researchers in collaboration with University of Delaware on the impact of the law in California and a similar law in Wilmington, Del. Dr. Ritchie is quoted, "Parents look at menu boards and kids look at menu boards, but it is likely that what the cashier says also influences which drink they choose. In our data collection, we would order a kids' meal and wait for them to offer a drink. But mostly they said, ‘What drink do you want?' instead of ‘Do you want water or milk with that?'”. Woodward-Lopez is quoted, “NPI in partnership with the California Department of Public Health is working with some local health departments to provide training and materials to help restaurants comply with the letter and spirit of the law. Our next step is to measure whether this health department support is effective. The role of default beverage policies in this context is important and not well understood.” Read the full article online.
At fast food and sit-down restaurants across California, kids' meals come with water or milk automatically. At least, that should be the case since state law requires restaurants to offer the healthy beverages by default to reduce the amount of sugary beverages served to children. California Senate Bill 1192, authored by Sen. Bill Monning (D-San Luis Obispo), went into effect in January 2019, but research by the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) has found that implementation has not been universal. The results, along with results from a similar study in Wilmington, Del., were published in an issue brief Aug. 20 on HealthyEatingResearch.org. Before the law, 10% of menu boards observed by the researchers in California list only the healthy beverages. Data collected after the law went into effect showed 66% of menu boards list the healthy default beverages. NPI researchers also collected data on the proportion of cashiers who verbally offered only healthy beverages with kids' meals when orders were placed. This happened only 5% of the time before the law was enacted, and dropped to 1% after. The law doesn't specify whether the cashier must offer the default beverages, but the spirit of the law suggests they should, as it would likely have a greater impact on the selections that children and parents make. In interviews with NPI researchers, most restaurant managers expressed support for the legislation, but didn't know much about it. The research brief was written by NPI researchers Lorrene Ritchie, Phoebe Harpainter, Marisa Tsai, Gail Woodward-Lopez and Wendi Gosliner in collaboration with lead author Allison Karpyn and Laura Lessard, Jesse Atkins, Kathleen McCallops and Tara Tracy of the University of Delaware. The research was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and by the California Department of Public Health with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture. Read the full research brief online./span>