Despite progress on protecting California renters from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1.8 million Californians are still behind on rent payments. New findings from University of California researchers suggest more outreach on California's emergency rental assistance (ERA) program is needed. Wendi Gosliner, of the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute, partnered with researchers at UC Berkeley and the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative to collect survey data on 502 low-income parents of young children residing in California. Survey results found that 22 percent of respondents who were renters deferred rent payments since March 2020, when the pandemic first began to trigger large-scale shutdowns and economic dislocation in the United States. Only 7 percent of survey respondents had received ERA relief payments during the time of interviews. Statewide, many low-income renters remain at a heightened risk of dislocation and potential homelessness when California's eviction moratorium expires on September 30. Survey findings are compiled in a research brief, which includes recommendations for how public and nonprofit entities in California can improve ERA uptake among low-income renters. The survey, part of the Assessing California Communities' Experiences with Safety net Supports (ACCESS), was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with supplemental funding from the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations and Tipping Point.
Drinking water is the healthy alternative to the sugary drinks that are a risk factor for many diet-related chronic diseases and tooth decay, and plain drinking water is also more environmentally friendly than packaged sugary drinks. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researcher Christina Hecht, who coordinates the National Drinking Water Alliance, received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research program to develop a 'photo-evidence' tool to document the condition of drinking water access in schools and other community locations. This work was conducted in collaboration with the University of Washington School of Public Health and Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics. The tool, Assessing the Quality of Water Access (AQWA), is designed for use by community or citizen scientists and allows a documentary and quantitative survey of the elements that should be present to maximize water consumption. The AQWA toolkit is available online. Critical elements in drinking water access, dubbed ‘Effective Access to Drinking Water' were identified by researchers during the development of the AQWA tool. These include water dispenser cleanliness, condition and accessibility, adequate water flow, presence of cups, and educational or promotional messaging about drinking water and healthy hydration. A new research brief, entitled ‘Effective Access to Drinking Water in Schools: What is it and why does it matter?' provides a summary of the research on the importance of these elements as well as the evidence base on school drinking water access around the US. The research brief is available online. Contact Christina Hecht, at firstname.lastname@example.org, if your group might undertake a project using AQWA.
- Author: Danielle L. Lee
Sugar-sweetened beverages, including chocolate milk, are the leading source of added sugars in youths' diets. During the 2017-18 school year, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) implemented a policy removing chocolate milk from school lunches as part of a district-wide strategy to reduce students' intake of added sugars. A new research brief from the University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute (UC NPI) describes the impact of this policy on students' intake of milk and its associated nutrients. This impact was measured by UC researchers in a study of students' milk selection and consumption in 24 SFUSD middle and high schools during one lunch period at each school during each study year. The study included 3,158 students in 2016 before the policy and 2,966 students after the policy was implemented in 2018. Study results showed that after chocolate milk was removed, milk taking at lunch declined, but average per-student intake of key nutrients from milk did not. In addition, students' intake of added sugars from milk declined significantly. The study suggests that removing chocolate milk from school cafeterias may improve student nutrition. The research brief encourages schools to consider eliminating chocolate milk to help reduce students' added sugar intake. The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the UC NPI, UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Berkeley Food Institute, and SFUSD Student Nutrition Services. This work is supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant no. 2015-68001-23236 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The research brief is available online. The full research study is also available online.
The USDA granted states multiple operational waivers to continue to deliver the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) services during the COVID-19 pandemic and these waivers have enabled our ability to serve participants remotely. With funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Nutrition Policy Institute and Public Health Foundation Enterprise WIC gathered information from WIC participants about their experiences with WIC during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first brief based on information gathered from WIC participants in Los Angeles County is now available online, with more to come soon from interviews with participants and local agency staff from across California in the months to come.
The California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP) provides CalFresh shoppers a dollar-for-dollar match when purchasing California-grown fruits and vegetables at participating Certified Farmers Markets and small food stores. Over 4.6 million Californians with low-income receive money to spend on food through CalFresh, also known as the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researchers conducted an evaluation of the CNIP program operating at California farmers' markets in 2018. Interviews were conducted with 386 CalFresh shoppers from ten farmers' markets offering maximum incentives ranging from $0 to $20, and from nine nearby supermarkets not offering incentives. Researchers found that CalFresh CNIP shoppers who reported using more of the match incentive reported lower levels of food insecurity. Additionally, farmers' market shoppers consumed more fruits and vegetables than supermarket shoppers, though no differences in consumption were found between CNIP and non-CNIP shoppers. Program participants expressed consistent and overwhelmingly positive appreciation for the CNIP program. “I'm eating better because I can afford to get fresh food, fresh vegetables and fruit that I wouldn't get otherwise,” said one CalFresh shopper about the CNIP program, “It gives me a chance to taste and to eat foods that I might not otherwise be exposed to, and foods that I wouldn't feel like I could afford." Despite the overwhelming support for the CNIP program from those using it, researchers found that fewer than one-in-five supermarket shoppers were aware of the CNIP program; after learning about CNIP, nearly all said they would be likely to use it. Findings from the evaluation are available in an online research brief. The research was led by NPI researchers Wendi Gosliner, Ron Strochlic, and Sridharshi Hewawitharana and included UC Berkeley graduate student researchers Celeste Felix and Caroline Long. The evaluation was funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.