- (Condition Change) Improved community health and wellness
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>
- 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>
- Author: Kelly Hong
- Author: Emily Dimond
- Author: Melissa LaFreniere
- Author: Rosa Vargas
UCCE Santa Barbara County educators partnered with P.E. teachers to boost enrolled classes by 53% during COVID-19 distance learning. About half of the students surveyed indicated intentions to drink more water and increase activity, contributing to improved youth health.
The CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) program serving Santa Barbara County has partnered with elementary schools in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District (SMBSD) for several years to provide evidence-based curriculum and trainings in nutrition and physical activity. SMBSD serves over 16,900 students with 87.2% of the students qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, many families, especially those with young children, experienced an increase in food insecurity, making them more vulnerable to negative health outcomes. Unfortunately, during the same time UCCE educators in Santa Barbara County experienced a decrease in K-6th grade classroom teachers being able to partner to provide nutrition and physical activity support, limiting access to important resources and information on diet and exercise habits that promote healthy living.[3-4]
How UC Delivers
Working closely with school partners, UCCE educators pivoted programming to meet the needs of school communities to promote health and increased the total number of enrolled classes by 53% compared to the start of the 2020-21 school year.
All three P.E Specialists expressed interest in continuing the partnership as extenders and felt the lessons were beneficial to their students. Two of the extenders reported the virtual UCCE lessons were easy to integrate into their class schedule and observed that students were actively engaged in the material and activities. Several additionalSMBSD P.E. Specialists expressed further interest in professional development around teaching nutrition curricula and have been provided access to a library of online resources and support from UCCE Educators.
Overall, this partnership resulted in reaching more than 1,000 students across two school sites with quality nutrition education using the Serving UpMyPlate and Up4It! curricula tailored to their grade level. As a result, 59% of 4th-6th grade youth surveyed (n=73) reported that when given a choice they will drink water and 45% reported that when given a choice they will try to engage in more physical activity.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2018), regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces the risk of many chronic diseases among children and adults. These outcomes support UCANR's public value of promoting healthy people and communities.
“I have learned that in sports drinks, sodas, teas, and coffee that there is a lot of sugar and added sugar into the drinks. I have also learned that it is good to have some type of protein or dairy or anything that is on my plate when you eat.” – Rice Elementary Student (SMBSD)
1. Ed-Data: Education Data Partnership, Santa Maria-Bonita School District; Accessed on 15 June 2021, http://www.ed-data.org/district/Santa-Barbara/Santa-Maria--Bonita
2. Wolfson JA, Leung CW. Food Insecurity and COVID-19: Disparities in Early Effects for US Adults. Nutrients. 2020; 12(6):1648. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061648
3. Pérez-Rodrigo, C., & Aranceta, J. (2001). School-based nutrition education: Lessons learned and new perspectives. Public Health Nutrition, 4(1a), 131-139. doi:10.1079/PHN2000108
4. Rivera, R. L., Maulding, M. K., & Eicher-Miller, H. A. Effect of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–Education (SNAP-Ed) on food security and dietary outcomes, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 77, Issue 12, December 2019, Pages 903–921, https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuz013/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
After participating in UCCE's virtual Family Cook Night series, 60% of parents reported intention to not offer a treat as a reward for eating other foods and 80% would try new strategies for picky eaters, promoting healthy people and communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of life, including family, work, and education. The pandemic has exacerbated social inequalities, affected access to education for adults and youth and magnified food insecurity for children and families. Two US COVID-19 Impact Surveys indicated that 34.5% of households with a child ≤ 18 years old and 34.4% of households with children ≤ 12 years old were food insecure by end of April 2020. 
How UC Delivers
As schools remained in distance learning, CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE in Santa Barbara County worked closely with principals and partners at two elementary schools to find innovative ways to support the health of youth and families during these unprecedented times. Meeting virtually with partners and youth, UCCE educators realized a need for programming that involved the whole family.
UCCE educators hosted two 4-class series of evening classes via Zoom with school leadership to meet this need. Families signed up through their respective schools and got access to the virtual classrooms through school computers and district Zoom rooms. Using the Healthy, Happy Families curriculum, the families learned about topics that promote healthful behaviors. These included how to involve youth in cooking and meal preparation and using words instead of food to praise positive behavior. Families also learned basic nutrition, food safety, and the current USDA dietary guidelines. Throughout each lesson, UCCE educators encouraged families to include their children in the cooking process by demonstrating tasks appropriate for varying levels of child development.
UCCE educators continued to strengthen partnerships with Santa Barbara Food Bank (SBFB), extenders, youth, and families in Santa Barbara County. Families utilized resources available in their homes and supplemental materials provided by the SBFB and UCCE staff. Educators created dynamic lessons that provided families with the opportunity to openly share their experiences, thoughts, and welcomed participation from all family members, including fathers and male guardians. Participation from men in these classes promoted gender equality, an essential step towards addressing the double burden of unpaid caretaking work that disproportionately impacts the health and well-being of women. 
After attending the classes, adult participants shared that they changed their approach to feeding their children to promote healthful behaviors. Pre- and post-course survey (n=64) results indicated that the proportion of parents or guardians who would not offer a treat as a reward for eating other foods increased from 36% to 60%. Additionally, the proportion of parents or guardians who indicated that they would offer food to their child rejected more than once increased from 36% to 80%. Overall, the Family Cook Nights Series was impactful, educators and families practiced cooking healthy recipes, promoted gender equality, and changed feeding habits to encourage healthful behaviors.
According to Jensen (2020), “besides a direct relation with higher intake of unhealthy foods, frequent use of food as a reward may also increase the risk of being overweight through long-term effects on eating behavior”.  This intervention fostered healthy behaviors as part of the UC ANR's commitment to promoting healthy people and communities.
When asked about the class series, one school principal remarked: "Our families enjoyed it and had fun. Cooking is community building. We appreciate the thoughtfulness of the food bank and CalFresh." -Liberty Elementary School Principal
1. Nalita James, Virginie Thériault. (2021) Reimagining community and belonging amid COVID-19. Studies in the Education of Adults 53:1, pages 1-3. https://doi.org/10.1080/02660830.2020.1811474
2. Bauer L. The COVID-19 crisis has already left too many children hungry in America. 2020. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/05/06/the-covid-19-crisis-has-already-left-too-many-children-hungry-in-america/. Accessed June 18, 2021
3. Jansen PW, Derks IPM, Mou Y, et al.Associations of parents' use of food as reward with children's eating behaviour and BMI in a population-based cohort. Pediatric Obesity. 2020;15:e12662.https://doi.org/10.1111/ijpo.1266210 of 10 JANSEN ET AL.
4. Kate Power (2020) The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the care burden of women and families, Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 16:1, 67-73, https://doi.org/10.1080/15487733.2020.1776561