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.
- Author: Katherine Lanca, UC Global Food Initiative Fellow, UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute
Cooperative Extension researcher: Nutrition course a boon for UC Berkeley students
College students across the nation are struggling to meet their basic food needs. Within the University of California system of 280,000 students, 38% of undergraduate students and 20% of graduate students report food insecurity.
As part of the UC Global Food Initiative, in 2015 the Nutrition Policy Institute (a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources statewide research center) identified student food insecurity as a UC systemwide problem, prompting the UC Regents and campuses to collectively address the issue.
All 10 UC campuses now have on-site basic needs centers, providing food, emergency housing and support services. The UC system and campus working groups recognize that meeting basic needs, such as food, is a multidimensional challenge.
In response to the 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, which called for national efforts to reduce diet-related disease and food insecurity, UC renewed their commitment to cut the proportion of students facing food insecurity in half by 2030. Campuses will partner with local counties to maximize enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as CalFresh in California), provide food for students who do not qualify for CalFresh, and allocate campus food resources to historically underserved student populations.
NPI's collaborative researchers continue to monitor the impact of these efforts, in addition to other interventions, such as supporting students in building basic culinary skills, to improve food security. One multipronged approach to address food insecurity at UC Berkeley is a 14-week course on Personal Food Security and Wellness with a Teaching Kitchen laboratory component.
Sarah Minkow, who teaches the Personal Food Security and Wellness course at UC Berkeley, shared that students learn about nutrition and gain culinary skills through the Cal Teaching Kitchen.
The curriculum is designed with consideration for the time, cost and convenience of healthy eating. Discussions include food safety, calculating nutrient needs, mindful eating and reading nutrition labels. The Teaching Kitchen laboratory brings the lessons to life through knife skills, “no-cook” cooking, microwave cooking and sheet pan meals.
Minkow enthusiastically highlighted her students' “overwhelmingly positive [response to the] lecture and lab,” suggesting the benefits of an interactive learning environment to garner student engagement.
“Students often give feedback that they wish this was a required course for all UC Berkeley students,” said Minkow. She noted one barrier to reaching more students: capacity of the Teaching Kitchen space.
Susana Matias, a Cooperative Extension specialist at the UC Berkeley Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology and collaborative researcher with the NPI, evaluated the impact of the Personal Food Security and Wellness course at UC Berkeley.
Matias reported that increasing food literacy and culinary skills among students has shown to increase intake of fruits and vegetables, and frequency of cooking, and reduce the number of skipped meals. Her study on the impact of the 14-week nutrition course also found a significant decrease in student food insecurity.
Across the UC System, students are benefiting from their campus Teaching Kitchens, including UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA and UC Riverside. Other campuses such as UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara offer basic student cooking classes as well.
Katherine Lanca, UC Global Food Initiative fellow working with NPI, attended the 2022 Teaching Kitchen Research Conference as part of her fellowship to learn about the latest research on teaching kitchens supporting equitable health outcomes.
The conference was hosted at UCLA by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Department of Nutrition in association with the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative. Teaching kitchens are a promising approach to supporting food security and cultivating lifelong habits, especially among a college student population./h3>
Katherine Lanca joined the Nutrition Policy Institute on Aug. 30, 2022 as a 2022-23 University of California Global Food Initiative student fellow. Katherine is a UC Berkeley School of Public Health master's student in the Public Health Nutrition program. She will be extending her impact beyond the classroom through written, visual, and online communications about nutrition policy, food security, federal food programs, and food policy issues. The UC GFI 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. Students play an important role in the UC GFI and efforts to increase food security, health and sustainability. The UC GFI Student Fellowship program funds student-generated research, related projects or internships that focus on food issues.
University of California student Anna Rios has been selected as Global Food Initiative fellow for the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Nutrition Policy Institute during the 2021-22 school year. Rios is a senior in molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley. Rios is originally from the small rural town of Williams, about two hours north of the Bay Area. In her home community, she noticed the prevalence of packaged and processed foods, along with health burdens present. Coming into college, Rios had no interest in research, but this slowly shifted as she gained more exposure to research through her involvement with Lorrene Ritchie, director of the Nutrition Policy Institute. In this upcoming year, she will work on two GFI projects which focus on improving nutrition in infants and school-aged children through nutritious school meals. The Global Food Initiative was founded in 2014 under then UC President Janet Napolitano with the goal of conquering the question of how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population that is expected to reach 8 billion by 2025. Fellows across the 10 UC campuses and Agriculture and Natural Resources work on projects or internships that focus on food issues. Participants receive professional development, tours of food and agriculture sites throughout California, and a $3,000 annual stipend to support their educational experience.
Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) and affiliated researchers recently conducted research across the University of California (UC) to develop new survey questions to assess student homeless and housing insecurity. They presented their findings during a free webinar, "Redefining Basic Needs and Assessing Housing Insecurity in Higher Education" on August 13, 2020. The webinar was featured NPI affiliated researcher Suzanna Martinez of UC San Francisco and the research team, Erin Esaryk and Eli Jimenez. Martinez shared the newly developed questions for the assessment of homelessness and housing insecurity, provided a student-informed definition of basic needs, and shared UC student experiences of housing and food insecurity from multiple campuses. These findings provide a comprehensive student definition of basic needs to inform research, programs, and policy to address housing and food insecurity in higher education. Findings were discussed in a question and answer session with student leader, Gwen Chodur, of the UC Graduate & Professional Council. The event was co-hosted by Ruben Canedo from UC Berkeley and Tim Galarneau from UC Santa Cruz, co-chairs of the UC Basic Needs Systemwide Effort. The webinar recording is available online. This research project was funded by the UC Global Food Initiative and the full research report and survey questions are available for download online.