- Author: Deepa Srivastava, Ph.D.
Adult participants adopted food and financial resource management practices and improved their food security and household financial stability.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased food insecurity among community's most vulnerable population. Food insecurity is a major public health issue in which low-income individuals are disproportionately affected. While people with limited incomes face many constraints that negatively impact their food resources and access to foods, employing food and financial resource management knowledge and skills may help promote a healthy diet and stretch food budgets, ultimately increasing food security and food resiliency.
How UC Delivers
In 2020, UCCE Tulare Nutrition Educator- Elia Escalante recruited Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education (SNAP-Ed) eligible and limited resource adults from local community-based agencies and schools to administer CalFresh Healthy Living, UC (CFHL, UC) nutrition education programs. Elia implemented two evidence-based CFHL, UC food resource management curricula. The Plan, Shop, Save and Cook (PSSC), is a 4-weeks series-based curriculum through which participants learned how to plan nutritious meals for their family in a budget, and taste a healthy, low-cost recipe. A majority of PSCC participants were female (92%), Hispanic (92%) and in the age range of 18-59 years (88%). Making Every Dollar Count (MEDC) is a 4-weeks series-based curriculum through which participants learned how to set goals and manage resources effectively to eat healthy and stretch food dollars. All MEDC participants (n=44) were female with a majority of participants being Hispanic (98%) and in the age range of 18-59 years (95%). All participants who completed PSSC pre-post and MEDC retrospective surveys received graduation certificate.
PSSC Outcome Assessment: Of the 60 participants who completed the PSSC pre-to-post surveys showed significant improvements in the following areas: plan meals (85%, p<.001), compare unit prices (86%, p<.01), shop with a list (81%, p<.001), think about health choices (95%, p<.001), use nutrition facts label (82%, p<.001), all five behaviors-plan, price, shop, think, fact (61%, p<.001), and use MyPlate (74%, p<.001). As a result of attending PSSC classes, participants shared their successes: “I had several changes- eat healthier; use right portions, less salt, more water; use less sugar and add more fruit and vegetables”; “I have stopped buying sodas; I make more infused waters with fresh fruits and vegetables.”
MEDC Outcome Assessment: Of the 44 participants who completed the retrospective MEDC survey improved behaviors in the following areas: 84% wrote a personal goal, 93% used choice-making steps with decision, 86% identified community resources they can use, 67% checked to see if they are eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit, 100% used one of the easy ways to save on food, and 93% determined using coupon is better than buying store brand. And the fact that 82% saved money demonstrates that improved household financial stability, and 95% reporting that they made food last until they have money to buy more demonstrates improved food security.
As a result of attending MEDC classes, participants shared their successes: “Make better choices, plan my purchases and make my money last longer”; “I learned to compare prices when shopping.”
Overall, the outcome evaluation results indicated that a combination of food and financial resource management education is critical to enable parents to know how to make the best choices with the existing resources and to keep within a limited budget so that the household does not lack money and other resources for food. Collectively, these measured outcomes demonstrated learning and practices adopted by the participants that can lead to improved food security and financial well-being.