- Author: Deepa Srivastava
UCCE in Kings County leverages community partnerships to increase preschoolers awareness about healthy foods
Early childhood is critical to the development of lifelong healthy living. With this intent, UCCE, in partnership with the Department of Hospitality Management at West Hills Community College-Lemoore and preschools located at the college campus, embraced a collaborative approach to promote healthy eating by helping preschoolers learn about and taste Go Glow Grow foods.
Together, we can make a difference!
An innovative and collaborative integration of research and practice brought diverse stakeholders together.
- Deepa Srivastava, UCCE Advisor Nutrition, Family & Consumer Sciences from Tulare/Kings initiated the needs assessment, monitored evaluation process, and conducted focus groups.
- Susan Lafferty, Nutrition Educator of Kings County UC CalFresh nutrition education program implemented the Go Glow Grow curriculum.
- Nancy Jeffcoach, Site Supervisor of West Hills Child Development Center, Lemoore planned the timeline for preschoolers who received the curriculum.
- Christian Raia, Program Director /Coordinator Hotel Restaurant Casino Management Faculty-West Hills College planned and supported the culinary students' implementation of food demonstrations, taste tests, and recipe sharing. The reinforcement of Go Glow Grow MyPlate food group concepts was integrated into students' capstone project.
During April and May 2019, collaborative partnership efforts captivated preschoolers' attention with key MyPlate messages and taste tests. Susan Lafferty led six weeks of the Go Glow Grow curricula with 72 preschoolers. Twelve community college students from the culinary department shared recipes and conducted food demonstrations and taste tests. Nine preschool teachers consistently supported the program. Preschoolers received a graduation certificate and a chefs hat upon completing the program.
“Glow foods make my hair grow, eyes sparkle, and skin soft."
Initial success stories, lesson observations, and activities indicated increased knowledge of preschoolers about MyPlate food groups and willingness to try foods from all food groups. A majority of preschoolers responded to the importance of eating Go Glow Grow food.
Taking home key messages
It also seems the preschoolers are taking key messages home. One preschool teacher mom shared this story:
So [preschooler name] is eating her dinner and she looks up at me and says, "ya know, chicken isn't on my plate."
"Um, yes it is, it's right there..."
"No," she says,"it's not anywhere on My Plate!"
"Oh, like the healthy choices My Plate? Yes it is, it's protein. I think it's red."
"Red is fruit momma, it's a glow food!"
So at this point I pull up the graphic. She is right–that it would be purple as a protein. She informs me that I should study it. But she'll help me and show me where the vegetables are as she loudly chews a cucumber in my ear. She's been telling me which foods have which vitamins and bringing the conversation to the table at every meal.
"You guys are doing amazing things. I see it in my program and now I get to see it in my child. So thank you!"
Positive learning experiences result from meaningful interaction
Upon completion of the program, two focus groups were conducted to understand the program impact at the individual and environmental levels of the social-ecological model. It was encouraging to note the response from participating community college students about their learning experiences and the changes that they have observed for themselves and the preschoolers as a result of this program.
A majority of the students indicated that they “loved” Go Glow Grow concepts of MyPlate and the meaningful “interaction” with the preschoolers.
A sustainable foundation is established
Overall, “mutually reinforcing goals, collective impact, commitment, trust, consistency, strong partnerships and communication, curriculum, evaluation tools”- all factored in to keep the momentum for the community partners.
What began as a needs assessment to examine the nutrition practices of early childhood education settings, ended on a promising note to continue promoting the health and well-being of young children. Indeed, a strong and sustainable foundation is established to carry forward UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' strategic initiative of healthy families and communities.
- Author: Ruth Salazar
The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program partnered with Dairy Council of California, Madera County and Public Health for this year's Summer Meals in Madera County. The event's goal was to provide meals to children during the summer as well as provide fun physical activities.
Young girl enjoying her time while playing the parachute activity
The event took place on June 29, 2018 at the McNally Memorial Park in Madera, where they provided information booths and free physical activities. The physical activities took place after the children were given their healthy meal. Staff established an area in the park where CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) activities could take place such as parachute, parade around, and frog on the lily pads. Physical activity games where provided for about 200 children from the age range of K-5th grade.
UC CalFresh staff Austin and Coraima explaining a CATCH activity
Elizabeth competing to capture the flag
During the games, other staff educated children on the MyPlate through games and brochures. While at the booth children were explained the importance of following the MyPlate and incorporating a balanced meal while including the five food groups.
Young boy enjoying himself through the parachute activity
Children showcasing frogs on the lily pad.
- Author: Ruth Salazar
UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program has continued its partnership with Madera's Community Action Partnership of Madera County Head Start by providing nutrition lessons. On May 7th the Madera UC CalFresh Team had the opportunity to present to Madera's Head Start teachers on how to utilize our Happy Healthy Me… Moving, Munching & Reading Around My Plate curriculum.
Elizabeth Lopez presenting at the training
This curriculum's goal is to have 4-6 years old children develop healthy eating and physically activity habits that will last a lifetime. At the training the staff demonstrated the many aspects that the curriculum has to offer such as physical activity games, nutrition activities, and arts and crafts that correlate with the specific lesson. After completing the training more than 50 teachers have been trained and enrolled on the curriculum. More than sixty children will benefit from this training through their teachers new skills in the curriculum.
Head Start teachers attending the training
Ruth and Elizabeth explaining the activities from Happy Healthy Me curriculum
- Author: Sergio Perez
UC Calfresh joined Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission (EOC) to promote a new vegetable to the Calwa Elementary students during the Fresh Grub event on February 28th. Fresh Grub links with school cafeterias to provide students with locally grown produce. At this event, the new vegetable that was introduced to children, teachers, and parents was jicama. The event was hosted by Fresno EOC, and UC Calfresh was there to support in providing direct education and facilitating a jicama taste test with the students. Others that played a big part in developing the event include Fresno State Community and Economic Development, Fresno Unified School District, and Fresno County Farm Bureau. ABC30 News was also present to film the event.
Calwa's UC Calfresh Nutrition Program Educator, Sergio, is ready to present educational information on jicama.
UC Calfresh Nutrition Program Educator, Mishelle, shows a picture on how jicama originally looks like before being cut.
Tasting 1: Plain Jicama
Tasting 2: Jicama with Lemon
The grade levels that participated in the jicama taste testing were 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade students. There were two types of tastings the students were exposed to. The first tasting was jicama by itself, and the second was jicama with lemon. The UC Calfresh team recorded the student's response of ever trying jicama, if they tried it at the time, were they willing to eat it again, and if they were willing to ask for it at home. Afterwards, ABC30 News asked the students' feedback and opinion on the tasting. At the end of the students taste test, we had teachers and parents taste both tastings and give us their response on whether they would serve the plain jicama or jicama with lemon at home.
To record students' responses accurately and prevent students from influencing one another, UC Calfresh educators would have them have their heads down, and show a thumb up for ‘yes.'
Students were excited to try new foods. For those who have tried it, they were surprised at seeing other ways jicama can be eaten. Different ways jicama was represented included eating it in a form of French fries, salad, or a taco shell.
Parents and staff from Calwa Elementary tasting the jicama with their children.
Group photo with the staff members of Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, Fresno Unified School District, and UC Calfresh.
The Fresh Grub was a successful event. There were about 200 students who participated, as well as parents and teachers who did the jicama taste test at the end. Fresno's EOC and UC Calfresh did a great job coordinating the event. UC Calfresh will continue to push healthy eating to the students in the cafeteria, as this can help make healthier decisions and explore different foods.
- Author: Chelsey LeeAnn Slattery
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22nd. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 and events are now coordinated in more than 193 countries globally by the Earth Day Network.
In Sutter County, the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program celebrated Earth Day by participating in the Barry Elementary School Garden Build Day. This successful event was made possible through the collaborative efforts of various community partners including; the Sutter-Yuba 4-H Youth Development Program, UC Master Gardeners, UC CalFresh, The Worm Farm, Lowe's, teachers, students, and their families. Barry Elementary School's Principal, Vice Principal, and School Counselor also attended and participated in the event.
During Garden Build Day, participants built raised garden beds which included the installation of gopher wire to the bottom of each bed prevent pest damage and the installation of weed cloth to the bottom of each bed to minimize weed growth. The Worm Farm from Durham, CA delivered 13 cubic yards of soil and participants worked together to fill the depth of each raised garden bed with the soil. Participants also had the opportunity to participate in a Drip Irrigation 101 Workshop lead by the Butte Cluster's Nutrition, Family, and Consumer Sciences Advisor, Chelsey Slattery. During this workshop, participants learned the basics of installing drip irrigation in school gardens. Drip irrigation is defined as any watering system that delivers a slow moving supply of water at a gradual rate directly to the soil and consists of a network of pipes, tubing valves, and emitters.
During Garden Build Day, four separate garden beds were built which included, two 4x8 raised garden beds, one 4'x8' high riser ADA compliant raised garden bed, and one U-shaped raised garden bed. The U-Shaped garden bed will offer greater accessibility and efficient use of growing space. U-shaped garden beds are perfect for school learning gardens because they create a wrap-around garden design with a center pathway which is ideal for multiple students and/or wheelchair access. U-shaped garden beds are also cost-effective, and provide more growing space with less material costs.
Drip irrigation saves water by delivering water right to the root zone of plants and is usually allowed outside watering windows in areas with watering restrictions. The drip irrigation system that was installed in the Barry School Garden will help to eliminate overspray, wind drift and evaporation. Some additional benefits of the drip irrigation system include; water conservation, consistently in water frequency and duration, and reduced weed growth from not watering areas without plant material.