The University of California's Nutrition Policy Institute released brief training videos to aid family child care home providers in promoting proper nutrition among young children. Current California law mandates only an hour of nutrition training for child care providers licensed after 2015, omitting over 30,000 providers who care for nearly 310,000 children. To address this gap, NPI has unveiled seven brief videos, each under 60 seconds, in English and Spanish. These videos, which can be freely used by educators, align with evidence-based recommendations for what and how to feed infants and toddlers. They were developed for the one-hour online trainings, "Infant and Toddler Feeding Recommendations for Family Child Care Home Providers," available in Spanish as well. While California providers can access the trainings for free, those outside the state can access them for $15. Each training concludes with a completion certificate. The UC Nutrition Policy Institute collaborated with UCSF California Childcare Health Program, UCSF School of Nursing, UC Cooperative Extension, and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources News and Outreach in Spanish for this project, supported by a UC ANR grant.
Recent research shows that increased Cash Value Benefit amounts for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children—commonly known as WIC—to purchase fruits and vegetables was associated with greater amounts and variety of fruits and vegetables purchased. The US Department of Agriculture's response to the COVID-19 pandemic increased the Cash Value Benefit for children from $9 per month to $25 per month, effective until September 30, 2023. The Cash Value Benefit will revert to a lower amount without Congressional action. Analyzing purchasing data for 1,578 families with 1,770 children participating in WIC in Los Angeles County, the study found significant increases in amounts purchased for 53 of 54 evaluated fruits and vegetables, and significant increases in diversity of purchased fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and total fresh produce following the increase to the Cash Value Benefit. Findings are important as expanding fruit and vegetable variety in children's diets improves diet quality and acceptance of fruits and vegetables, which is foundational for lifelong healthy eating habits. Results support the continuation of the increased Cash Value Benefit. The study was published in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition by Christopher Anderson, Catherine Yepez, and Shannon E. Whaley from Heluna Health's Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC Program, Lauren Au from the University of California, Davis, and Marisa Tsai and Lorrene Ritchie from the Nutrition Policy Institute at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The study was funded by Healthy Eating Research, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the David and Lucille Packard 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.
Lorrene Ritchie, director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources cooperative extension specialist, received the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior Platinum Author Recognition Award in June 2023. The award recognizes authors with exceptional publication records in the Journal and for high frequency of publication of excellent manuscripts during the last 10 years. This is the fourth consecutive year Lorrene has received the award. Her more recent publications in the Journal highlight improving college student food security through campus food pantries and expanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program access, the health benefits of the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the importance of engaged school nutrition leadership in improving school meal programs, the effectiveness of using online training to engage child care providers on serving healthy beverages, and the importance of the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program for improving the nutritional quality of meals, snacks and beverages served in child care across the US.
Nutrition Policy Institute researchers will present their collaborative research findings at the American Society for Nutrition, Nutrition 2023 annual conference in-person in Boston, Mass. Alana Chaney, a University of California, Davis graduate student, will present a poster on July 22, 10:05 to 10:09 a.m ET titled “Newly Developed Infant Diet Quality Index (IDQI) Predicts Nutrient Outcomes in Young Children ages 2-5" as part of a Poster Theater Flash Session - Innovations in Infant, Pediatric, and Pregnancy Nutrition Research: New Tools and Methodologies. The poster is co-authored by NPI-affiliated researcher Lauren Au and Charles Arnold from UC Davis, Lorrene Ritchie from NPI, and Edward Frongillo from the University of South Carolina. Lauren Au will present a poster on July 23, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. ET titled “Differences in infant diet quality by race and ethnicity predict differences in later diet quality.” The poster is co-authored by Charles Arnold and Sarina Lin from UC Davis, Lorrene Ritchie and Edward Frongillo. NPI's Sridharshi Hewawitharana will present a poster on July 24, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. titled, "Student and School Characteristics Modify the Impact of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education on Student Dietary Outcomes.” The poster is co-authored by NPI's Kaela Plank, Amanda Linares and Gail Woodward-Lopez./span>