- (Strategic Initiative) Healthy Families and Communities
CFHL, UC partners with San Mateo and Santa Clara county schools to increase structured and non-competitive physical activity opportunities for school-aged youth through the CATCH curriculum, contributing to improved community health and wellness.
Since students returned to school and in-person learning, school administration witnessed a decline in student's social skills and physical activity abilities from previous years. Principals and teachers expressed concern that anti-social behavior was prevalent and believed it was a result of the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One principal in Santa Clara County shared an observation that “students were having a difficult time making friends” and “many students would spend time by themselves, rather than engage with classmates.” School staff also noted that students were not getting the recommended 60 minutes of daily play during the pandemic.
In Spring 2022, CFHL, UCCE educators supported schools as they were dealing with low school staffing levels and students struggling to re-enter the classroom. Re-learning some of the skills associated with interacting and socializing, and then ramping up physical activity in the post-pandemic world was needed.
How UC Delivers
After hearing about the challenges facing schools, CFHL, UCCE developed an active recess program to help schools address supervision and staffing issues while engaging students in physical activity. School administrators and teachers were excited about this program and hoped structured recess games would engage their students physically and help them learn to interact cooperatively.
CFHL, UCCE educators attended school recess regularly, on a once- or twice-a-week basis, bringing CATCH games with them. At some elementary schools, CFHL educators reached all of the students with their games, from kindergarten to 5th grade, and at some school sites, educators focused on providing activities to just Kindergarteners. Games helped build a range of skills, from locomotor skills and coordinating with others, to developing balance, catching, and hand-eye coordination skills.
In San Mateo and Santa Clara County, CFHL, UCCE educators supported recess CATCH games with an array of equipment, from hula hoops, beanbags, frisbees, polyspots, scarves, and more! Students were welcome to join in for games such as dragon's tail, fruit salad, scarf and bean bag toss. Students were welcome to use the supplies to enrich their own play and it was common to see students building castles with cones, and juggling. These games were welcomed by the students, from K-5, with cooperation, laughter, and the request that CFHL, UCCE educators come the next day to play some more! This feeling was expressed by the Sunshine Gardens Principal, who stated “I only wish they were here every day!"
The principal at Sunshine Gardens went further to say that the games “allowed students to build skills and confidence and set goals”. At Castlemont Elementary,the principal saw that “more students were actively engaged”, a sentiment that was echoed at Pescadero Elementary, where a school leader noted that students were much more active during recess after the implementation of the active recess project.
CFHL, UCCE Educators collected active recess evaluations to document CATCH adoption across four sites, reaching 795 students. Principals across sites reflected that the games were more cooperative than competitive, which encouraged more participation. The principal at Bowers Elementary also liked that the games “were structured so that they helped develop cooperative skills”. Pescadero leadership saw CFHL, UCCE involvement as both helpful and important, and all four participating schools requested continuing active recess work in the 2022-23 school year.
Recess interventions have been shown to increase the amount of physical activity children get and when children regularly engage in physical activity, it can lead to improved cognition, fitness, heart health and mental health outcomes. Teachers and staff remarked on the value of CFHL, UCCE bringing physically and mentally engaging collaborative games and activities to their students. CFHL, UCCE educators are looking forward to the opportunity to continue supporting active recess in the 2022-23 school year. Educators and School sites are inspired to build on last year's success and there is a plan to provide CATCH trainings to teachers and staff to support additional physical activity policy, systems, and environmental changes in the new school year. In this way, CFHL UCCE programming contributes to UC ANR's public value of Healthy People and Communities.
Partnering to support nutrition incentive programs at farmers markets provides increased access to healthy food for CalFresh recipients and generated over $380,000 in revenue for local farms.
For low-income community members, CalFresh/SNAP incentive programs can increase their purchasing power, help reduce hunger, and improve nutrition. Farmers market nutrition incentives provide economic benefits to local farmers and communities, reduce food miles traveled, and can increase access to healthy food in low-income communities. In San Luis Obispo County eight year-round farmers markets accept CalFresh and offer the market incentive Market Match. However, these programs are underutilized, and many low-income shoppers are unaware or uncertain about where and how to use their CalFresh card.
How UC Delivers
To increase access to farmers market incentive programs and address barriers, UC staff convened partners through the EBT at Farmers Markets working group of the San Luis Obispo Food System Coalition. The work group includes partners from multiple sectors, including agriculture, government, private industry, and community-based organizations. The purpose of the work group is to increase the use of CalFresh at farmers markets to 1) create equitable access to healthy food and 2) support for local farmers. Through this work group, partners have collaborated to increase the visibility of farmers market incentives through social media, text messaging, materials distribution to local client-serving organizations, press releases, paid advertisements, and promotion at local food bank distributions and farmers markets.
Key work group partner representatives (n=6) were surveyed in September 2021 using the Wilder Collaboration Factors Survey. This survey includes 44 evidence-based items for collaboratives. Strengths are indicated by an average score of 4.0 to 5.0, while areas needing attention are 3.9 or lower. Strengths reported by respondents included: skilled leadership (4.3), unique purpose (4.3), mutual respect and trust (4.4). Weaknesses and areas of growth included: adequate funds (2.7) and time (2.7), and having all the organizations that we need as members of the group (3.2).
To address some of the issues related to time and resources, the work group applied for and received $30,000 in funding from the Danone Foundation to pilot a Farmers Market Navigator program to increase access to farmers market incentives among Hispanic and Latino customers who use CalFresh.
Since 2017, when UC started convening the EBT at Farmers Markets work group, we have seen a 171% increase in CalFresh and Market Match redemption. Research has shown that access to fruits and vegetables supports healthy eating behaviors and improved health outcomes. Additionally, these purchases have generated a total of $386,000 in direct income to local farmers and farmers markets.
In addition, the work group has supported two additional markets in launching their Market Match program and has advocated for and achieved a regional standard incentive amount of $15 from Paso Robles in northern San Luis Obispo County to Lompoc in northern Santa Barbara County. This regional standard simplifies communication to low-income clientele and ensures a meaningful and standardized food budget when clients shop at local farmers markets.
Increasing access to local fruits and vegetables supports UC ANR's public values of safeguarding abundant and healthy food for all Californians and promoting healthy people and communities.
Our favorite quote:
“This work group really helped our market to be accepted into the Market Match program. I think without the visibility and partnership that this work group provided, we would not have been considered for Market Match. So you all should really feel good about that and thank you.”
– Farmers market manager and work group partner/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
Making Every Dollar Count participants reported running out of food before the end of the month significantly less often, suggesting an improvement in their families' food security.
According to the California Association of Food Banks, one in five Californians struggled with food insecurity during 2020. Making Every Dollar Count (MEDC) is a curriculum that teaches adults food buying/budgeting skills and food and resource management techniques that can support limited-resource families. The primary tool for evaluating this curriculum is the MEDC retrospective survey. This survey primarily collects participant knowledge, limiting the program outcomes collected particularly regarding potential improvements in food resource management (FRM) behaviors. In addition, FRM behaviors are a key focus area identified in California's CalFresh Healthy Living statewide goals and objectives for FFY 2020-22.
How UC Delivers
During evaluation planning for FFY 2019-20, the CalFresh Healthy Living, UC State Office (CFHL, UC State Office) asked San Joaquin County if there was a possibility to transition from the MEDC survey to the Plan, Shop, Save and Cook (PSSC) evaluation tool to better capture food resource management (FRM) behavioral data. As a result, the CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE San Joaquin team asked a long-time partner, First 5 of San Joaquin, if their MEDC-in-home educators could adopt the new survey. Given this new opportunity to capture FRM behavioral outcomes, First 5 approved the transition based on the recommendation of the CFHL, UC State Office in January 2020. FFY2020-21 was the first complete year in which the First 5 in-home educators used the PSSC evaluation tool for all participants that received MEDC lessons.
Preliminary results of the PSSC pre/post survey evaluating the MEDC curriculum delivery in San Joaquin County showed opportunity for capturing FRM behavioral outcomes related to MEDC. A total of 95 matched pre/post PSSC surveys were analyzed among the MEDC series participants.
Survey respondents were primarily female (95%) and all 18-59 years old. Most participants self-identified as Hispanic or Latino (88%).
Adults (n=95) who participated in the Making Every Dollar Count series showed statistically significant improvements (p<.000) from the pre- to post- survey in how often they:
- Compared unit prices before buying food;
- Shopped with a grocery list;
- Thought about healthy food choices when deciding what to feed their family;
- Used the “Nutrition Facts” on the food label to make food choices;
- Used MyPlate to make food choices; and
- Used food resource management behaviors (plan, price, shop, think, fact).
The percent who reported improvements in these behaviors at five weeks post-series ranged from 88% (for thinking about healthy food choices when deciding what to feed their family) to 98% (for using MyPlate to make food choices). In addition, after attending the MEDC series, adult participants reported running out of food before the end of the month significantly less often (p<.000) suggesting an improvement in their families' food security.
Participants responded to the question, “What changes have you made since you have taken these classes?”
”Ahorrar dinero al hacer una lista de mis compras.”
Translation: “Save money by making a shopping list.”
“Aprendí a cuidar mi economía.”
Translation- “I learned to take care of my finances.”
These outcomes, along with efforts to understand the behavioral impacts of MEDC programming, are part of UC ANR's commitment to improving economic prosperity and securing safe, abundant food for all Californians.
- Author: Marisa Neelon
- Author: Eli Figuroa
- Co-PI: Charles Go
Teens enrolled in Contra Costa County's virtual YPAR series gained knowledge about the social determinants of health and explored career trajectories to address critical health issues in their community. These projects help to increase community health and wellness and promote college readiness and access
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed health inequities associated with the social determinants of health (SDOH),1 which “are the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of-life-risks and outcomes.”2 Educating young people about the SDOH and engaging them in youth-led research to address health issues in their community is essential in shaping their future education and career goals.
How UC Delivers
The pandemic presented challenges initiating and engaging students in educational programs such as a Youth-Led Participatory Action Research Project (YPAR) because of the transition to online learning. Meeting the challenge to pivot from in-person to virtual programming, the Contra Costa County YPAR coordinator successfully facilitated a 100% remote youth-led program during the 2020-2021 school year at a new site, Dozier Libbey Medical High School (DLMHS), in Antioch, California.
DLMHS is a charter school where 58.9% of students are socioeconomically disadvantaged.3 The school focuses on health and medicine and developing future health professionals and was selected because its mission and values align with CFHL, UC to help people lead healthier lives.
An existing relationship with a DLMHS teacher and 4-H parent led to a virtual meeting with the principal who agreed to offer a YPAR program at DLMHS. Students were recruited through the school website and social media platforms, and five teens from the 11th grade were interviewed and selected to join the program and were also enrolled in 4-H.
The YPAR coordinator and a colleague from Merced County met with the teen leaders weekly over Zoom. They used various educational tech tools to facilitate activities from the Community Futures, Community Lore's Nine Stepping Stones guides to educate student leaders about YPAR. To encourage critical thinking and learning, the coordinators assigned videos and readings for group discussion that addressed the SDOH. These activities exposed the teens to health inequities in their community to consider for their YPAR project and fueled their career aspirations to make a difference in individual and community health.
After this program year, four of the five teens completed a survey. They reported learning about the SDOH and when asked what, if any, impact this project had on their future education plans or future career interests, responses included:
“This project has opened my eyes to many different issues in my community and I feel like in my future job/career interests I will bring these issues with me and try to make a change so new generations don't see the same issues that we did. I want to make a change with my line of study.”
“I want to be a Doctor of Internal Medicine due to the program since I have learned the factors in the environment that affect health and can even cause chronic conditions which could be prevented or alleviated with the right nutrition and physical activity.”
These responses indicate new learning about community health and wellness, as well as increased college readiness. Youth participating in YPAR projects focused on nutrition and physical activity interventions, have been shown to promote healthy weight and reduce the risk of chronic disease.4;5 UCCE Contra Costa County's effort demonstrate UC ANR's public value of Healthy People and Communities.
1. Abrams, E. M., & Szefler, S. J. (2020). COVID-19 and the impact of social determinants of health. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 8(7), 659-661.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Social Determinants of Health: Know What Effects Health. https://www.cdc.gov/socialdeterminants/index.htm. Accessed September 7, 2021.
3. California Department of Education. California School Dashboard. 2020. https://www.caschooldashboard.org/reports/07616480117218/2020. Accessed September 7, 2021
4. Nour, M., Lutze, S., Grech A., & Allman-Farinelli, M (2018). The Relationship between Vegetable Intake and Weight Outcomes: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies. Nutrients. 10(11), 1626.
5. US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf. Accessed October 18, 2021./h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
CFHL, UCCE Kern offers evidence-based food and nutrition education to 42 parents. Participants improved their food resource management and nutrition practices, contributing to UC ANR's public value of promoting healthy people and communities.
According to KidsData, Kern County has a food insecurity rate that is higher than the state average at 23.8%, compared to California's overall rate of 18%. Obesity rates are also high, with nearly 50% of children and 74% of adults being either overweight or obese.
Southeast Neighborhood Partnership Family Resource Center (FRC) is a non-profit organization located in Bakersfield, CA. Southeast Neighborhood Partnership FRC is dedicated to providing outreach, case management, and supportive services for families in need. They also provide parenting classes that can be attended voluntarily or mandated by court orders for Kern County residents.
How UC Delivers
The Southeast Neighborhood Partnership FRC staff requested that CFHL, UCCE Kern assist with providing evidence-based nutrition lessons for their 42 parents to satisfy a 12-week parenting course. As a result, nutrition and physical activity direct education efforts were remotely conducted via Zoom from April through June 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic
Lesson objectives focused on advancing actions and behaviors that improve health and wellness for participants and their families. CFHL, UCCE Kern staff provided parents lesson handouts from the Plan, Shop, Save, & Cook curriculum. Parents received information regarding how to plan, read nutrition labels, save money on food, and food safety. Virtual education allowed the CFHL, UCCE Kern team to provide services to residents in Ridgecrest, Mojave, and Buttonwillow. These outlying cities in Kern were previously not reached due to geographic distance.
During Zoom meetings, several participants shared that they began to increase vegetable servings in their meals, and others shared that they were now reading the nutrition facts label to choose healthier food and snacks for their family.
Plan, Shop, Save, and Cook (PSSC) adult participant evaluation survey results indicated that after attending the Plan, Shop, Save & Cook series, out of the 30 survey respondents:
o 33% reported running out of food before the end of the month less often, indicating an improvement in families' food security.
o 90% reported improvement in at least 1 of 5 food resource management behaviors (plan, prices, shop, think, facts).
o 80% reported using MyPlate to make food choices more often.
o 67% reported that they use "Nutrition Facts" on the food label to make food choices more often.
o 53% reported shopping with a grocery list more often.
o 40% reported planning meals ahead of time more often.
o 43% reported comparing unit prices before buying food more often.
o 27% reported that when deciding what to feed their family, they thought about healthy food choices more often.
In addition, adults (n=30) who participated in the Plan, Shop, Save & Cook series showed statistically significant improvements (p<.05) from the pre to post survey in how often they planned meals ahead of time, shopped with a grocery list, used the “Nutrition Facts” on the food label, used MyPlate to make food choices, and used the five food resource management behaviors (plan, price, shop, think, fact).
These changes in budgeting, nutrition knowledge, and skills of families in Kern County demonstrate UC ANR's commitment to healthy people and communities and safeguarding abundant, healthy food for all Californians.
“Our partnership with CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE Kern County program has been key in providing our clients the health education they need to care for their children properly. CFHL, UCCE Kern staff have been so insightful and consistent in educating our participants regarding meal planning, food labels, saving money and cooking meals for years now. Our collaboration has been essential in providing our court mandated parenting clients with the nutrition component needed to meet the criteria required by the Department of Human Services. Thank you so much for all your help, we truly appreciate our partnership.” – Cecilia R., Parent Educator, Southeast Neighborhood Partnership FRC