A recent research brief from the Nutrition Policy Institute illuminates the experiences of participants newly enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children—commonly known as WIC. The brief, based on the 2021 Multi-State WIC Participant Satisfaction Survey, shares experiences of 26,642 WIC participants surveyed across 12 WIC state agencies, focused on the impacts of temporary changes to the WIC food package during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 7,831 participants that responded to the open-ended question asking them to share any feedback about their WIC experience, comments were generally positive (43%), with only 7% reporting difficulty finding WIC foods. However, the study revealed that participants new to WIC, less than one year into the program, encountered more challenges shopping for WIC foods compared to those with longer enrollment periods. One participant expressed, “I still can't find some products that WIC is providing, it is very complicated to find products.” New participants often faced difficulties at store checkouts, citing confusion with the WIC card and App. One participant mentioned, "It's confusing how to use the WIC card at different stores, seems you have to learn by trial and error which can be embarrassing." Participants on WIC for varying durations requested flexibility in substituting whole fruits and vegetables in place of jarred infant foods and juice. One participant said, “I would like more money for fruit and veggies and maybe take away the juice option. My pediatrician and the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees.” The NPI research suggests providing enhanced support for new WIC participants, focusing on understanding WIC food packages and how to properly use the WIC App to shop for and identify WIC-approved foods, and considering expanded options for whole fruits and vegetables in place of jarred infant foods and juice. The research was conducted in collaboration with Gabriel Underwood and Loan Kim from Pepperdine University, Danielle Lee and Lorrene Ritchie from NPI, and Christina Chauvenet from the National WIC Association.
The School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley was recently granted candidacy for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics for their new Berkeley Public Health Dietetic Internship program. The program aims to create a new public health dietetic internship model that will prepare students to tackle adaptive changes from clinic to the community and from qualitative and quantitative to policy and food systems. The program is a two-year internship that currently accepts 10 interns annually during the fall who are admitted to the Master's in Public Health Nutrition at UC Berkeley. Students must have completed a Didactic Program in Dietetics to apply. The Nutrition Policy Institute will be a host organization for the program, and several NPI researchers—Lorrene Ritchie, Wendi Gosliner, Miranda Westfall, Suzanne Rauzon and Danielle Lee—serve on the program's advisory board. Applications to join the inaugural 2024 cohort are due December 4, 2023, at 8:59pm PST. Potential students are encouraged to attend the upcoming virtual and in-person open house informational sessions on November 14 and 16, 2023. For further questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.