A new research brief developed by the Nutrition Policy Institute outlines the results and implications of the 2020-21 study, “The impact of SNAP-Ed interventions on California students' diet and physical activity during COVID-19.” For many school-aged children in the United States, school closures prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the loss of consistent and reliable access to nutritious meals and opportunities for physical activity. Local health departments implementing the CalFresh Healthy Living program adapted their program delivery to continue to reach children with interventions that promote healthy eating and active living. In their study, NPI evaluators found that CalFresh Healthy Living interventions had a positive impact on students' fruit and vegetable intake. The study and research brief were authored by NPI's CalFresh Healthy Living Evaluation Unit, including Amanda Linares, Kaela Plank, Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Gail Woodward-Lopez, Miranda Westfall, Reka Vasicsek and Summer Cortez.
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.
The Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is seeking a part-time graduate student fellow to support a research project studying how K-12 schools transitioning to scratch cooking and using reusable serviceware can impact students' dietary intake and environmental sustainability. This opportunity is part of the UC Global Food Initiative 2023-2024 Student Fellowship Program. The UC Global Food Initiative addresses one of the critical issues of our time: how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach eight billion by 2025. The Student Fellowship program funds student-generated research, related projects or internships that focus on regenerative agriculture, sustainable food systems, or sustainable food service operations. All 10 UC campuses plus UC ANR and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are participating in the program. In addition to working with the NPI team, the UC Global Food Initiative Student Fellow will participate in systemwide activities. This fellowship is a 10-month commitment (September 2023 – June 2024) of approximately 10 hours per week. A $4,000 stipend will be provided. Learn more about the fellowship and how to apply online. Applications are due by Monday, August 21, 2023, 11:59 PM PT.
Virtually all San Diego County CalFresh participants (known as SNAP nationwide) have been receiving monthly text messages in multiple languages encouraging them to eat more fruits and vegetables and directing them to a dedicated multilingual website with more information. The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency may be the first SNAP administering agency in the US to use text messages to share nutrition information and promote a healthy diet. This effort began in 2020 in partnership with the University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute and the UC San Diego Center for Community Health. Building on previous survey results, UC researchers conducted focus groups in English and Spanish with text message recipients to elicit their experience of the messages. CalFresh participants reported overwhelmingly positive perceptions of the effort, including increased fruit and vegetable intake, trying unfamiliar produce items, improved perceptions of CalFresh, and feelings that the agency cares about their health and well-being. Participants want the effort to continue with more frequent messages. Text messaging participants is a relatively low-cost approach that SNAP agencies can use to encourage diet improvement, optimization of food dollars, and to enhance perceptions of and experiences with SNAP. Focus group results were published in the journal Nutrients by Celeste Felix, Ron Strochlic, and Wendi Gosliner from the Nutrition Policy Institute, Blanca Melendrez and Shanna Wright from the UC San Diego Center for Community Health, and Hao Teng from Teachers College, Colombia University.
The 4-H Student Nutrition Advisory Council (SNAC) club at Rice Elementary returned to in-person meetings this year for the first time since March 2020. 4-H SNAC is a collaboration between UC Cooperative Extension programs (CalFresh Healthy Living and 4-H) and local schools and provides 4th - 6th graders opportunity to build leadership skills and create healthy changes in their community.
Student leaders were excited to join the club this year and promote healthy living at a school-wide Family Wellness Night event, where families were invited to learn about community resources and healthy living tips. 4-H SNAC youth leaders worked together to decide which topics they wanted to promote. Ultimately they voted to host two booths including 1) a garden station where students demonstrated how to plant tomato and pepper plants and provided information on how to grow food at home, and 2) a hydration station with a spin-the-wheel game where students leaders engaged families in physical activity and shared how to make fruit infused waters to reduce their consumption of sugary beverages.
Leading up to the event youth learned about the importance of nutrition, gardening, and physical activity and the role they play in living a healthy lifestyle from the club facilitator. During club meetings, they practiced making group decisions following Parliamentary Procedure, making healthy recipes, maintaining their school garden, and playing games that focused on being physically active. Family Wellness Night was a culmination of the 4-H SNAC youth leaders' hard work where they were able to showcase all their new skills to be agents for change in their community. As a result, students reported that the best part of participating as a youth leader in this program included making food and learning how to make the world a healthier place, getting to work as a team, teaching others, and promoting healthy living at Family Wellness Night.
More information on starting a 4-H SNAC Club in your community can be found in our recently published 4-H SNAC Guide.
Funding support provided by USDA NIFA, CYFAR
California's CalFresh Healthy Living, with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – USDA SNAP, produced this material. These institutions are equal opportunity providers and employers. For important nutrition information, visit www.CalFreshHealthyLiving.org.