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.
Three years ago, in early March 2020, our CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE team was sitting in our downstairs auditorium trying to figure out how we could host our annual 4-H SNAC Culinary Academy in the face of something we had never experienced, and didn't yet grasp, was going to be a pandemic that would disrupt everything. We heard that schools were shutting down for a week, maybe two. Instruction was moving online. We were in the busiest part of our school programming year, planning for our fifth Culinary Academy with a group of youth leaders we had been working with all year. Recipes had been selected, supplies gathered, food about to be purchased. And then we realized... you can't bring youth together from four different schools across two counties to cook, laugh, play, teach, and lead in the midst of an unknown infectious and global disease. It was heartbreaking and suddenly real as we were sent home from the office, laptops in tow, and told to work from home until further notice.
Fast forward three years to April 2023. Walking into a school cafeteria over Spring Break, bustling with life and young leaders perfecting culinary techniques, putting MyPlate into practice, playing and leading physical activity breaks. I don't mean to be dramatic, but I almost cried.
On April 12, 2023 about 35 youth from 4-H SNAC Clubs in the Santa Maria-Bonita and Lompoc Unified School Districts came together for a postponed 5th annual Culinary Academy. Youth worked on recipes to enhance their knife and stove top skills, food safety, and baking techniques. Youth leaders selected the healthy, low-cost recipes including omelets and pizza. Youth also learned about food preservation and water bath canning techniques from the UC Master Food Preserver volunteers.
4-H SNAC is a collaboration between several UCCE programs including CalFresh Healthy Living and 4-H, local schools, youth, and families. The goal of 4-H SNAC Clubs is to engage 5th and 6th grade youth in low-income communities in identifying and leading healthy changes in their schools or communities while building their leadership skills.
Studies show that getting kids involved in cooking and food preparation is one of the best ways to promote healthy, lifelong eating habits. With 4-H SNAC Clubs we take those healthy habits one step further as the youth spread their knowledge and skills by leading food demonstrations at their schools, in their homes, and in their communities.