Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Sridharshi Hewawitharana and Danielle Lee will be attending the inaugural Western Region Mental Health and Nutrition Network meeting at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, October 17-19, 2023. The meeting brings together Cooperative Extension and research professionals, mental health specialists and nutrition professionals across the western region to advance research and education related to the intersection of nutrition and mental health across the lifespan. The western region—which includes 13 US states, 4 Pacific territories, and US protectorates—tends to have poorer mental health compared to other regions. The overarching goals of the meeting are to increase collaboration and expertise regionally, enhance fund development efforts and raise awareness of unique mental health, food system, and nutrition-care-related issues in the western region. Danielle will be presenting a brief talk, “Stress Levels of Licensed Family Childcare Home Providers: A Study of Child and Adult Care Food Program Participation and Reimbursement Impact” as part of the meeting symposium on October 18, 2023, at 10:50 a.m. The meeting is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Center for Application Substance Abuse Technologies.
New research highlights the need for increased funding in the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program to ensure family childcare home providers can offer nutritious meals and snacks to young children.CACFP serves nutritious meals and snacks to over 4.2 million children in childcare, annually. Family childcare home providers in CACFP receive reimbursements —Tier 1 or Tier 2 rates—based on their income or being in a low-income community. Tiering was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 and resumed on June 30, 2023. Nutrition Policy Institute researchers, in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley, CACFP Roundtable, and the California Department of Social Services, conducted interviews with Tier 1 and Tier 2 providers in California to understand the impact of tiering. Interviews revealed that CACFP supports families by ensuring children receive nutritious meals and reducing their financial burdens. Providers from both tiers advocated for eliminating tiered reimbursements and increasing rates to balance rising food costs and ensure fair compensation. Due to lower reimbursements coupled with inflation-driven increases in food, labor, and supply costs, providers are considering offering fewer meals, leaving CACFP or increasing fees for parents. The proposed Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act offers potential solutions, seeking to eliminate tiered reimbursements, provide a $0.10 reimbursement increase tied to inflation, and enable providers to claim reimbursement for their children's meals when served with other children in their care. NPI researcher Celeste Felix and collaborators will present preliminary study findings at the Annual CACFP Conference on October 19 at 2:45 p.m. This work was supported by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Nutrition Policy Institute researchers were awarded a $199,786 grant from the California Collaborative for Pandemic Recovery and Readiness Research Program, also known as CPR3. The grant funds a collaborative project with NPI principal investigator Lorrene Ritchie, co-principal investigator Susana Matias from the University of California, Berkeley and the CACFP Roundtable. The project, “Child and Adult Care Food Program: Impacts of COVID-19 Changes to Meal and Snack Reimbursement Rates on Family Childcare Home Providers, Children and Families – Phase 2”, builds on a current project to understand the impact of COVID-19 changes to CACFP reimbursement rates for family child care homes on CACFP participation, food quality, and food security. The one-year project began on July 1, 2023 and includes Kassandra Bacon as project manager, Celeste Felix as data analyst, Reka Vasicsek as research coordinator, Meirong Liao as Administrative Coordinator, Hannah Thompson as statistical consultant, and Ken Hecht as policy advisor. A goal of the CPR3 Program is to generate policy-relevant evidence to improve the health and well-being of California residents in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CPR3 Program is funded by the California Department of Public Health. California Department of Public Health will not be involved in study design, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, manuscript development, or the decision to publish.
A Graduate Student Researcher position is available starting summer 2023 with the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology at the University of California, Berkeley. The GSR will work with Susana Matias, UC Berkeley cooperative extension nutrition specialist, on a research project focused on the Child and Adult Care Food Program in family child care homes in California. This project is a collaboration with the Nutrition Policy Institute. The position requires strong quantitative research skills, including knowledge of regression and trend analysis, proficiency in SAS and experience working with large, administrative datasets, coursework in epidemiology, public health or nutrition, and statistics. There is a possibility of renewal for the 2023-2024 academic year. This position pays $29.25 per hour. More information and instructions on how to apply are available online. The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, protected veteran status or other protected categories covered by the UC nondiscrimination policy.
Licensed family child care homes (FCCH) provide child care in individual homes, are often located in the same neighborhood as the families they serve and often provide longer hours of care at a lower cost than child care centers. New research shows that a self-paced, online nutrition training for FCCH providers has the potential to make childhood nutrition guidance more accessible and may help bridge a potential regulatory gap: licensed FCCHs in California not currently participating in the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program only receive one hour of mandatory nutrition training if licensed after 2016—leaving out nearly 30,000 providers licensed before 2016 who provide care to over 310,000 children—and are not required to offer foods and beverages that meet nutrition standards. The training—available in both English and Spanish and free of cost to California-based providers—consists of four 20-minute interactive models providing guidance on what and how to feed infants and toddlers. Child care providers reported high levels of satisfaction, as well as an intention to make changes in feeding practices, after completing a pilot-test of the online training. Findings also identified a need for culturally relevant information and a live nutrition educator to discuss the training material. The research article was published in the California Agriculture journal and authored by Danielle Lee, Ron Strochlic, and Lorrene Ritchie from the Nutrition Policy Institute, Deepa Srivastava and Marisa Neelon from the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Abbey Alkon and Victoria Keeton from UC, San Francisco and the California Childcare Health Program. The project was funded by a grant from UC ANR.