The Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources is seeking to hire two Assistant or Associate Project Scientists to support our work to evaluate California's universal school meals program. The positions will conduct literature reviews and develop research questions, hypotheses and study methods; develop participant recruitment and retention protocols and protocols for IRB submission; and design and conduct collaborative research and evaluation projects, including conducting quantitative and qualitative analysis. They will facilitate state and national interactions between researchers, policymakers, and diverse community groups. The positions will write grants, research reports and peer-reviewed publications and develop science-based policy and environmental solutions to lifestyle-related health problems for diverse populations. The salaries are $71,500 to $91,000 or $87,000 to $107,600 annually. The positions are one-year renewable term appointments with possible extensions. More information about the positions and how to apply is available online. Application packets must be received by December 11, 2023, to ensure full consideration (new deadline). Questions? Contact Tatiana Avoce: firstname.lastname@example.org. The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
Nutrition Policy Institute researchers will present at the American Public Health Association 2023 Annual Meeting & Expo . The conference brings in over 1,000 sessions, centered on creating a healthier nation by working together to overcome social and ethical challenges. NPI researchers Wendi Gosliner, Lorrene Ritchie, Christina Hecht, Kenneth Hecht and Monica Zuercher co-author two poster sessions. The first is presented by Leah Chapman from Merrimack College titled, “Universal free school meals during the pandemic: A qualitative analysis of parent opinions from California and Maine” on November 13 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The second is presented by Deborah Olarte from Merrimack College on November 13 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. titled, “School food authorities' perceptions of the barriers to student participation in universal school meals during the 2021-2022 school year: A mixed-methods study.” The conference will take place in Atlanta, Georgia from November 12-15 with live virtual options for attendees.
Good nutrition, and improved health, attendance, academics, and school climate are some of the benefits when schools offer meals at no charge to all students. California and Maine, followed by six other states, have already enacted legislation to provide daily meals at school to all K-12 public school students, at no charge regardless of family income level. According to tracking by the Food Research and Action Center, over half of the remaining states are working to pass School Meals for All legislation. Additionally, a bill has been offered at the federal level. Researchers at the Nutrition Policy Institute, Arizona State University, the University of Connecticut, Boise State University and Merrimack College developed a summary of the evidence on the benefits of universal school meal programs. The researchers who developed the synopsis work collaboratively on evaluations of new state School Meals for All programs.
Nutrition Policy Institute researchers will present their collaborative research findings at the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior International Annual 2023 Conference in Washington, D.C. Wendi Gosliner presents on July 22, 9:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. ET as part of a session on "School Meals for All: Exploring Global Initiatives and Lessons Learned from California and Maine." Lorrene Ritchie presents a poster on July 23, 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET titled "Transition to Freshly-Prepared School Meals: Impacts on Meal Appeal, Student Participation, Intake, Food and Packaging Waste & School Finances;" the poster is co-authored by Celeste Felix and Danielle Lee from NPI, Hannah Thompson, Kristine Madsen and Caroline Nguyen from the University of California, Berkeley, and Laura Vollmer from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. Miranda Westfall presents a poster on July 23, 10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET titled "Assessments of Practices to Support Nutrition and Physical Activity at CA SNAP-Ed Eligible Schools Reveal Inequities;" the poster is co-authored by Janice Kao, Carolyn Rider, Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Amanda Linares, and Gail Woodward-Lopez from NPI.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed new nutritional standards to improve the healthfulness of child nutrition programs, which includes school meals. The new rule sets strict sodium targets and the first ever restriction on added sugars. Among many school cafeteria foods, chocolate milk, which has almost half of a child's daily recommended intake of added sugars in one carton, is potentially on the chopping block. The LAist edition of AirTalk, hosted by Austin Cross, invited Dr. Wendi Gosliner, senior researcher with the Nutrition Policy Institute, to discuss the significance of the USDA's latest proposal for school nutrition standards. The podcast conversation centers around a central question: “How do we make sure [school] meals appeal to students while meeting their nutritional needs?” Gosliner acknowledged that initial pushback of the proposal is expected, citing pushback on the implementation of the 2012 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act as an example. But she reminded listeners that new nutrition standards require a learning curve—they teach students what to get used to. She described how thoughtful removal of cafeteria staples, like chocolate milk, may help students part ways with familiar school foods and can offer a long term investment in student health. She also highlighted California's Universal School Meals program as a model for the nation with its bold investments. “School meals have the potential to be both tasty and nutritious,” said Gosliner. The LAist “AirTalk” episode is titled “USDA Considers Banning One Of The Best Parts Of School Lunch: Chocolate Milk” and can be found on the KPCC LAist website; scroll past the episodes listed in order of airing to find the May 19, 2023 episode.