- Author: Katherine Lanca
- Editor: Danielle L. Lee
- Editor: Amanda M Linares
- Editor: Miranda Westfall
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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), known as CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL) in California, is the largest nutrition education program in the United States. CFHL supports healthy eating and active living in eligible California communities through direct education and policy, systems, and environmental changes, with a large portion of program activities taking place in schools. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced K-12 school closures, school-based in-person CFHL programming was adapted for online delivery. A new study examined the impact of modified CFHL program delivery during COVID-19 on dietary intake and physical activity among students in 47 intervention and 17 comparison schools. Researchers found that participation in CFHL during school closures significantly increased student fruit and vegetable intake. Findings demonstrate the protective effect of comprehensive nutrition and physical activity education programs during emergency social distancing measures. This study, published in the Public Health Nutrition journal, was conducted by Amanda Linares, Kaela Plank, Sridharshi Hewawitharana, and Gail Woodward-Lopez of the Nutrition Policy Institute with funding from the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education.
- Author: Christina EA Hecht
- Editor: Danielle L. Lee
- Editor: Lorrene Ritchie
University of California's Research Consortium on Beverages and Health, with support from the American Heart Association, has released six short fact sheets to help educate both community members and decision-makers on the risks of over-consumption of sugary drinks. The fact sheets aim to provide the evidence base, expressed in simple talking points:
- What are Sugary Drinks? and 7 Reasons to Skip Sugary Drinks provide simple insights into sugary drink ingredients and how they can be harmful.
- The Health Harms of Sugary Drinks gives facts on the leading health risks of consuming these drinks.
- Sugary Drinks and COVID illustrates how sugary beverages, with their risk to cardio-metabolic health, can worsen the impact of diseases such as COVID-19.
- The Heavy Environmental Impact of Sugary Drinks provides data that illuminate the consequences of sugary drink consumption on the environment.
- How Four Cities in California are Using Sugary Drink Tax Revenue showcases how excise taxes levied on distributors of sugary drinks have funded projects to improve health in vulnerable populations in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Albany, California.
The Consortium is comprised of faculty working across the field of sugar science from all ten UC campuses and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The Consortium is coordinated by the Nutrition Policy Institute under the leadership of Christina Hecht, Ken Hecht, and Pat Crawford. Please contact Ken Hecht for more information about the Consortium and Christina Hecht for additional resources for community education on healthy beverage choices.
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nutrition Policy Institute policy team, Christina Hecht and Ken Hecht, have partnered with a Stanford University research team and two San Joaquin Valley community-based organizations, Dolores Huerta Foundation and Cultiva La Salud, to help improve access to school meals using an iterative process of investigation, sharing back and discussion, and policy advocacy. The partnership's work has led to local policy wins in response to parent concerns, for example, adjusting meal service practices during the pandemic to accommodate families' needs, and reducing the amount of flavored milk provided to school children. Their work has supported the development and implementation of California's School Meals for All program as well as federal-level advocacy for a limit on the amount of added sugars permitted in school meals. The team has conducted their work in both Spanish and English and Spanish-language versions of their policy briefs are now available online. Check out both versions:
- School Meals: Kids Are Sweeter with Less Sugar / Comidas Escolares: Los Niños Son Más Dulces con Menos Azúcar
- Parent Voices: School Meals for All / Voces de los Padres: Comidas Escolares para Todos
- Parent Voices: Local Foods for School Meals / Voces de los Padres: Alimentos Locales para las Comidas Escolares
- Parent Voices: Summer EBT / Voces de los Padres: Transferencia electrónica de beneficios (EBT) de Verano
This work was supported with funding from the American Heart Association Voices for Healthy Kids, The Center at Sierra Health Foundation and the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, Stanford Medical Scholars Program, Stanford Pediatric Resident Research Grant, and Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry. This work also received a United States Public Health Service 2021 Excellence in Public Health Award.
- Author: Deanne Meyer
It's been a very long week for anyone with friends or family in Florida, the southeastern US or west coast of Mexico. The ecosystem and human devastation from Hurricanes Ian and Orlene will be huge. It was just a few weeks ago that Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico. We can all send good thoughts to those in need and contribute resources as appropriate to help with basic needs.
Last week I attended the ECOP (Extension Committee on Organization and Policy) meeting in Baltimore while Glenda was at the ESCOP (Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy). We had joint sessions and independent sessions. As a newbie, I attended meetings on Sunday afternoon as well. Monday through Wednesday afternoon were packed with informational meetings. Extension Directors and Associate Directors from throughout the US were present. There are many common themes: evidence-based education, programming in new areas, maintaining trust with stakeholders, being local conveners, managing dwindling resources, etc.
Michelle Rodgers shared information on round II opportunity with the Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching and Engagement (EXCITE) program. EXCITE is a joint effort between the United States Department of Agriculture and the Center for Disease Control. Extension is known as a practical, connected and trusted source. The goal in round I was to reinforce confidence in Covid 19 vaccines and Ricardo Velo spearheaded our participation with a collaboration between ANR and Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP). Together additional resources were prepared and delivered.
Fifi the pink poodle, the beloved icon of the American Visionary Art Museum, designed by Theresa Segreti, enjoyed her first hotel stay while ECOP and ESCOP were meeting. For those attending the tri-societies meeting in November at the Inner Harbor you may want to see if Fifi is still at the Marriott.
Great shout outs! Zhen Wang of Stanislaus County was recognized by Vegetable Grower News as one of Fruit + Vegetable 40 under 40! You may have seen his work at a recent town hall meeting. Also in the news is Missy Gable for a Distinguished Early Career Award as our statewide director of our Master Gardener Program. Way to go Zhen and Missy. We're excited with you on your accomplishments. Way to go!
UC ANR is excited that Ethan Ireland has joined. Ethan is a Broadcast Communications Specialist (videographer) and hit the ground running as a videographer. In July and August we were joined by many Advisors: Clebson Goncalves, Diversified Ag Systems, Lake and Mendocino Counties; Breanna Martinico, Human Wildlife Interaction, Napa, Lake and Solano Counties; Tori Norville, Sonoma, Napa and Marin and Alison Deak, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno Counties, Fire; Sally Neas, 4-H and Youth Development, San Mateo and San Francisco; Olivia Henry, Regional Food System, Sacramento, Yolo, Solano, Placer and Nevada Counties. Jackie Atim is a Specialist in Abiotic Stress (think drought) at Kearney REC and UC Merced. Xuewen Feng is a Pesticide Safety Education Coordinator at UC ANR. Welcome to the new members of the ANR family! A huge thank you to all working in Human Resources, serving on search committees and participating in interviews. You help select our future!
“How do we expect children to learn at school if they are hungry?” says Mónica Zuercher, of the Nutrition Policy Institute. The Los Angeles Times featured Zuercher, a nutritional epidemiologist, in a story about the permanent implementation of the Universal School Meals Program in California starting in the 2022-2023 school year. Zuercher identified the school cafeteria as a place to increase nutritional security. “Nutritional standards are in place at the national level, establishing the nutritional qualities that school meals need to have. So, it is important to highlight that not only two free meals are being offered in schools, but it's also two healthy meals,” she says. The Universal School Meal Program, initially a federal COVID-19 emergency measure, is now being permanently implemented in California and several other states. Zuercher and other researchers at the Nutrition Policy Institute will continue to evaluate the universal school meals program to inform and improve implementation. “It is a very exciting study because it examines multiple stages of universal school meals, from it's beginnings as a measure generated by COVID-19, to the challenge that it presents schools to have a large increase in the number of students participating in the program,” explained Zuercher. Preliminary findings from this research include reports from food service directors who say providing meals to all students free of charge has led to an increase in student participation, reductions in school meal debt and stigma related to meal participation. The original Los Angeles Times article “Big logistical challenge involves free food in schools. How to solve it?” was published on September 15, 2022 in Spanish. Follow updates related to this project on NPI's School Meals for All webpage.