- (Focus Area) Food
- Author: Anne Sutherland
¡Saludos a los jardineros maestros, especialmente a la clase del 2023!
Primero un saludo para los creadores del grupo actual: Elicha Gastelumendi, Lori Palmquist y Joyce Brahms Hennessey. Segundo, un poco de historia: creamos un modelo de nosotros mismo después de Growing Gardeners en 2020-2021para impartir un curso virtual sobre los conceptos básicos de jardinería en español. Pero, desafortunadamente, a pesar del fabuloso equipo de organizadores, traductores, oradores e investigadores y posiblemente debido a Covid, no obtuvimos la asistencia que esperábamos.
Actualmente: varios jardineros maestros de UC del grupo original tienen otras actividades, proyectos, o nuevas obligaciones familiares que atender, pero tenemos nuevos miembros que hablan español. Además, hemos reestructurado nuestro trabajo en los proyectos de CoCoMG que requieren apoyo en español. Yo he entablado valiosos contactos con la comunidad, gracias a que me he acercado a ellos en sus propios términos, en lugar de intentar que ellos se adapten a los nuestros.
Yolanda González, directora de Monument Crisis Center, en Concord cuenta con un grupo de voluntarios muy comprometidos. A ella le encantaría que estuviéramos en esas instalaciones, los lunes, martes y miércoles por la mañana para ofrecer, semillas gratis y consejos a los participantes de ese programa. Por lo pronto, ya hemos organizado ahí dos eventos: un sorteo de plantas y tierra, que se llevó a cabo en la primavera pasada, y un taller de jardinería práctica, realizado durante un campamento de verano, para jóvenes.
Asimismo, a través del Concord Hispanic Better Business Bureau, se nos invitó a instalar un puesto de información en el Festival Latino. Ahí, pudimos conocer y dialogar con muchas personas de la comunidad, muchos adultos y niños que estaban interesados en conocer más sobre nosotros. Richard Schmidt, Mary Stewart (miembro no oficial) y yo sobrevivimos un largo día de actividades y disfrutamos de la música.
A Marisa Neelon, asesora de Ciencias de la Nutrición, Familia y Consumidor de Extensión Cooperativa de UC, la conocí en el evento Families CAN Harvest Day, en el huerto comunitario de Ambrose en Pittsburg, en donde Neal Hoellwarth y yo instalamos una mesa de información para responder preguntas sobre el programa Jardinero Maestro. Marisa me puso en contacto con los organizadores de su programa de nutrición en el que participaron varias personas hispanoparlantes. Son 15 mujeres que se reúnen cada viernes en la primaria Mountain Meadows en Concord y los organizadores estuvieron encantados de que hiciéramos la demostración de manos a la obra. La primera clase consistió en la entrega de plantas de hortalizas y tierra y la instrucción sobre cómo cultivar vegetales en macetas. Ahí, conté con la valiosa asistencia de la maestra Sol Puenzo, cuyo primer idioma es el español. La segunda clase, impartida en el mes de enero pasado, trató sobre cómo plantar árboles frutales a raíz desnuda y de nuevo se regalaron árboles y tierra. En ambas ocasiones, nos recibieron muy bien y la organizadora del grupo, Marta Flores nos ofreció un excelente apoyo.
Sol Puenzo y yo estamos a cargo del servicio de asistencia al público Help Desk (servicio de asistencia) y podemos responder las preguntas de las personas que hablan español.
El futuro: somos parte del proyecto de apoyo voluntario, CoCoMG Volunteer Support Project y queremos invitar a todos los jardineros maestros de UC, especialmente a los líderes de proyectos, a que se pongan en contacto con nosotros en caso de que requieran apoyo en español para eventos especiales ya sea en las escuelas, o en huertos comunitarios AAMG . Espero fomentar los contactos con CoCoMGs del condado de Alameda para ampliar nuestra difusión y compartir ideas. La BBB Hispana de Concord y el sitio Latin Bay Area Events proporcionan información sobre eventos especiales. Además, yo quiero continuar con la instrucción práctica y seguir ampliando nuestros contactos. Necesitamos actualizar nuestro sitio web y la página de Facebook. Estoy trabajando en el presupuesto para el próximo año fiscal (julio del 2023 – junio del 2024).
Desafortunadamente, yo estuve fuera de la ciudad el año pasado y perdí la oportunidad de participar en el evento del Día de los Muertos. Pero, este año quiero asistir a varios eventos y regalar crisantemos y caléndulas, dos de las flores tradicionales del Día de los Muertos. Si cualquiera de estas actividades les entusiasma, por favor ¡póngase en contacto conmigo! ¡Díganme!
Adaptado al español por Leticia Irigoyen del artículo en inglés
Editado para su publicación por Norma De la Vega
- Author: Saoimanu Sope
Along Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, atop a small hill, sits a residential community for adults with disabilities. When you get past the gate to Glennwood Houseand look beyond the parking lot, you'll immediately notice the quaint oasis of swinging benches enclosed by vegetables growing in large pots and along walkways.
The garden, which is maintained by the residents, was created in spring 2022 by Monica Mehren Thompson and Robbie Prepas, two UC Master Gardener volunteers of Orange County.
The UC Master Gardeners program is a public service and outreach program of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Through the efforts of more than 6,000 Master Gardener volunteers across the state, the program is a unique driving force of change in local communities.
Thompson and Prepas completed their 16-week Master Gardener training in 2021 and quickly turned to Glennwood House for an opportunity to apply their newly acquired skills. Troy, Thompson's son, was a resident at Glennwood for nine years, making her decision to develop a garden on the grounds an obvious choice.
“This place is truly magical,” said Thompson.
Prepas agreed and shared that the residents play an active role from beginning to end. “We take the residents with us when we buy seeds so that they can choose what they want to grow,” she explained.
The garden has only experienced two plantings so far: spring and fall 2022. When it's time to harvest, the residents eagerly gather to taste the fresh vegetables and herbs. During the week, dinners are prepared by a professional chef, who incorporates ingredients pulled from the garden.
This will soon change, however. Since the residents enjoy the hands-on opportunity to cook so much, they'll now be in charge of preparing lunch and dinner every Friday. To kick start this shift, the residents prepared a huge salad and spaghetti with vegetable marinara sauce. The meal was a big hit and the residents were so proud of their creation.
“This is an all-out, very sophisticated effort with the Master Gardeners,” said Faith Manners, Glennwood House CEO.
Glennwood House is unlike other residential communities for persons with special needs in that it is home to 46 residents. “It's one of the largest supported-living communities in the U.S.,” Manners said, adding that Glennwood has an enormous waiting list.
According to Janet Parsons, development and facility director at Glennwood House, Laguna Beach genuinely embraces Glennwood residents. “When we're out and about, you should just see how warm and welcoming the community is towards our residents. Everyone is always engaging and smiling,” she shared.
Recently, the Laguna Beach Garden Club caught wind of the community garden at Glennwood and made a $1,500 donation to help fund materials.
Janet Chance, president of the Garden Club, credited Glennwood as one of the few places that caters to adults living with disabilities, commending their ability to cultivate a sense of belonging and integrate them into the greater Laguna Beach community.
While Chance regrets not having the time to become a Master Gardener herself, she attends some of the classes they teach in the Laguna Beach community. “The work they do is remarkable,” she said, adding that the club's recent donation was “one of the best” they have ever made.
Parsons said that it's important for the residents to feel independent. Therefore, the administration and the staff prioritize intentional programming. For example, instead of simple activities like coloring, Glennwood hosts advanced art sessions so that interested residents are learning techniques that will strengthen their artistic capabilities.
The same idea applies to the “farm-to-table” experience Thompson and Prepas have established.
“Just because the residents are living with a cognitive disability, it doesn't mean they're incapable of learning new things,” Parsons said. “They will tell you when something is boring or when they're not interested. So, we try to select activities or programs based on skills, personal interests and goals.”
While being recognized for the positive effect the gardeners have on the residents, Prepas quickly interjected that the real positive effect is the one that residents have on her. “I've learned so much from them,” she said. “They're incredible and so much fun to be around.”
Thompson, whose son lived at Glennwood until he passed away earlier this year, describes the Glennwood community as her family. Seeing Thompson's delight while gardening or cooking with the residents, it's easy to understand what she means.
“My husband has always supported philanthropy,” said Thompson. “But he says this feels like so much more than that. Because it is!”
To learn more about the UC Master Gardener program visit https://mg.ucanr.edu/.
- Author: Katherine Lanca
- Editor: Danielle L. Lee
- Editor: Lorrene Ritchie
- Editor: Wendi Gosliner
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated food and nutrition challenges. Many families initially lost access to meals offered by school and childcare facilities, experienced unemployment or work reductions, and faced increasing prices for food and other necessities. National and state policies and programs provided food and cash assistance to mitigate impacts on food security. Researchers at the Nutrition Policy Institute, a research center of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, evaluated safety-net policies implemented during the pandemic to better support families with low incomes in the U.S.
Benefits of universal school meals
The National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program meet the nutritional needs of approximately 30 million K-12 students in America each day. Typically, students from families meeting income eligibility criteria receive school meals for free or a reduced price, while others pay full price.
NPI researchers Wendi Gosliner, project scientist, and Lorrene Ritchie, director and UC Cooperative Extension specialist, are co-leading studies of school meals in California in collaboration with researchers from the NOURISH Lab for Health Inclusion Research and Practice, who study school meals in Maine and other states.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress funded school meals for all students at no charge, in order to address the dramatic increase in food insecurity among families with children after schools shut down in March 2020. This federal provision allowing for meals to be free for all students ended after the 2021-2022 school year, but some states elected to continue providing universal school meals with state funding, in recognition of the importance of these meals for student health and academic success.
California was the first state to adopt a statewide Universal Meals Program starting in the 2022-23 school year. To support the program's development, $650 million were invested to help schools improve kitchen infrastructure and provide staff training and technical assistance. Investments include Farm to School programs and other mechanisms to help update and improve school meals. Maine and several other states also have adopted universal school meals at least through the 2022-23 school year.
“States often act as incubators – things that work well in states sometimes get translated into federal policy,” Gosliner said. Identifying the success of the programs – and their challenges – can lead to improvements and help inform advocates and policymakers considering universal school meals policies at the state and national level.
Two of the team's research studies in California and Maine documented the benefits and challenges of universal school meals, as reported by school food authorities. Among 581 school food-service leaders in California who responded to the survey, nearly half (45.7%) reported reductions in student stigma as a result of providing free school meals to all students. Among 43 respondents in Maine, over half (51%) reported lessened stigma related to school meals being free for all. In both studies, nearly three-quarters of respondents reported increases in student meal participation. These and other data suggest that universal school meals are meeting their aim, to increase student participation while providing nutritionally balanced meals.
But when the child leaves campus, the responsibility to put a nutritious meal on the table falls on the caregiver.
“Universal school meals provide food and can ease families' budgets, but for too many families, wages as well as time and other resources are not adequate for access to and consumption of enough healthy foods and beverages,” Gosliner noted.
That is when other public programs are helpful, for example the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC.
Many eligible families do not claim Earned Income Tax Credit
The Earned Income Tax Credit is a national program designed to lift families out of poverty. The supplemental income can contribute up to nearly $7,000 per year for a family. Despite the EITC's known ability to improve participants' health, research shows that many EITC-eligible households in California and across the nation don't receive the benefits for which they are eligible, leaving $2 billion unclaimed in California in 2018 alone.
Gosliner led a study along with Lia Fernald from UC Berkeley and Rita Hamad from UC San Francisco to document levels of awareness, barriers to uptake, and benefits of participation in the EITC. Their recent publication reported that among 411 EITC-eligible California female caregivers, those who were younger, spoke languages other than English, and had less awareness of the EITC were less likely to receive the tax credit.
Developing a user-friendly system for providing safety-net support and, in the meantime, providing information and support to help more EITC-eligible families receive these benefits are suggested to help alleviate financial stressors. In the long term, these strategies may reduce poverty and improve the health of children.
Increasing WIC Cash Value Benefit a boon to health
In addition to universal school meals and EITC, families with low income may be eligible for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC. The program supports women and children up to 5 years old through nutrition education, nutritious foods and access to other health and social services.
One component of the WIC food packages, the Cash Value Benefit, provides participants a fixed dollar amount to supplement their family's diet with fruits and vegetables. During the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture increased this benefit from $9 to $35 per month, which was later revised to $24 per month per child in October 2021.
Ritchie contributed to a growing body of evidence on the importance and multidimensional benefits of the WIC Cash Value Benefit increase.
“Nine dollars buys only a quarter of what a child is recommended to eat every day,” Ritchie said. “The increase in Cash Value Benefit during the pandemic was an ideal natural experiment to investigate its impact.”
In collaboration with Shannon Whaley and her team at the Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC, NPI launched a longitudinal cohort study of nearly 2,000 California WIC participants. They found that the increased Cash Value Benefit improved WIC participant satisfaction with the program and allowed families to purchase greater quantities and varieties of fruits and vegetables.
“The increased Cash Value Benefit enabled WIC families to expose young children to new fruits and vegetables. Early exposure to a variety of fruits and vegetables is critical to establishing lifelong healthy habits,” said Ritchie.
The researchers found that the benefit increase also reduced food insecurity. It is hoped that the increase in program satisfaction translates into more eligible families enrolling and continuing to receive WIC. In November 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed making the increased Cash Value Benefit a permanent part of WIC.
Knowing the proven benefits of the WIC program, Ritchie and colleagues from the National WIC Association, and Loan Kim at Pepperdine University, also engaged with WIC participants in other states.
In 2021, all state WIC agencies were invited to participate in a WIC satisfaction survey. Of the 12 WIC state agencies that opted to participate, Connecticut, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Nevada, New Hampshire and New Mexico added questions on the survey to understand how the increased Cash Value Benefit impacted children's dietary intake.
The study showed consumption of fruits and vegetables by children on WIC increased by one-third cup per day on average, which is sizable when considering the impact across the WIC population.
NPI research on universal school meals, the EITC and WIC constitute a small part of a more comprehensive approach to make healthy food more accessible, affordable, equitable and sustainable for all. The NPI provides resources such as policy briefs, peer-reviewed publications and technical assistance on several research areas such as safe drinking water, childcare and education. To learn more, please visit the Nutrition Policy Institute website.
- Author: Katherine Lanca
- Editor: Danielle L. Lee
- Editor: Christina Hecht
Grab-and-go meals replaced cafeteria lunch lines during COVID-19 campus closures to ensure that students have reliable access to food. To understand strategies that can improve participation in school meal programs, a study during COVID-19 documented how parents perceived the quality, healthfulness, and benefits of the grab-and-go school meals. Parents from eight school districts in the San Joaquin Valley, California, a region of predominantly Latino farm worker communities, participated in the study. Using a predetermined protocol, parents photographed all meal items provided in their students' school meals for a full week. They then participated in focus groups and group discussions to describe their perceptions of the school meals. Parents expressed appreciation for the convenience of grab-and-go meals, consistent access to food, and safety when collecting meals from school sites during the pandemic. Parents also reported concerns about unappealing meals, lack of variety in foods, and unsafe food packaging. The most common concern parents shared was about the healthfulness of packaged food items. Parents noted sugary, greasy, and fatty options, which did not meet their children's preference for fresh fruit and vegetables. Research findings suggest ways in which school meals can better appeal to both parents and their children to reduce food waste, support those who are food insecure, and increase school meal participation. Researchers of the publication in the Nutrients journal include Tatum Sohlberg, Emma Higuchi, Valeria Ordonez, Gabriela Escobar, Janine Bruce, and Anisha Patel from the Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Ashley De La Rosa and Cecelia Castro from Dolores Huerta Foundation, Genoveva Islas from Cultuva La Salud, and Ken Hecht and Christina Hecht from the Nutrition Policy Institute. This study was supported by funding from No Kid Hungry, Stanford Pediatrics Residency, and Stanford Children's Health Community Benefits Grant.
- Author: Mike Hsu
David Gonzalves started on Feb. 1 as director for University of California Cooperative Extension in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties. UC Cooperative Extension connects communities across California with UC research and science-based solutions through agriculture, natural resources, nutrition and 4-H youth development programs.
Responsible for the overall operation of UCCE educational and applied research programs in the region, Gonzalves also will build and expand partnerships with county and city governments, public agencies and community organizations.
“David brings tremendous expertise in administration, fostering strong relationships, and building effective teams,” said Deanne Meyer, interim associate vice president for programs and strategic initiatives at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, which administers UCCE statewide. “His track record of engaging local agencies, business partners, stakeholders and community groups will be invaluable as we explore new collaborations to reach and serve more Californians.”
Gonzalves was most recently a campus building official at UC Merced. Beginning his career at the County of Merced as a fire inspector, Gonzalves worked his way up to supervising building inspector and eventually assistant development services director. Then, for the City of Merced, he filled the role of chief building official and ultimately director of development services, leading the city's Building, Planning and Engineering teams. For three years, Gonzalves served as Tuolumne County's Community Resources Agency director.
“David's past experience as an administrator in county government and at UC Merced makes him the ideal candidate for the work we do at UCCE, as he has demonstrated success in being able to successfully negotiate these two worlds,” said Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, interim director for county Cooperative Extension at UC ANR.
Gonzalves said he looks forward to meeting with county leaders, members of local boards, growers, UC Master Gardener volunteers, 4-H members and community members to learn how UC Cooperative Extension can help meet needs in the area.
“My big picture goal is to allow UCCE advisors, administrative teams and local county leaders to have a coordinated approach to our local challenges and successes,” Gonzalves said. “Our efforts will concentrate on freeing up our research teams' calendars to ensure they can continue producing cutting-edge accomplishments here in the tri-county region.”
Based at the UCCE Monterey County office in Salinas, Gonzalves can be reached at email@example.com or (831) 392-5916.