- Author: Beatriz Adrianna Rojas
Thirteen participants improved nutrition practices after attending Kern EFNEP workshops with Mexican American Opportunity Foundation partner, contributing to UC ANR's public value of sufficient, safe, and healthy food in our communities.
According to County Health Rankings & Roadmap, Kern County has a higher food insecurity rate than the state average at 23.8% versus 18%, respectively. Food insecurity is defined as the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources. In addition to issues of food access, almost 74% of Kern County adults are considered overweight or obese.
We know that healthy food access and food preparation skills are key to preventing obesity. Food safety skills are also essential for preventing foodborne illness, which leads to 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths each year (CDC.gov).
How UC Delivers
To proactively address food insecurity and obesity, the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) collaborated with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), UCCE Kern County, to provide evidence-based nutrition lessons to adults on an annual basis. MAOF, established in 1963, is a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide for the socioeconomic betterment of the greater Latino community while preserving the pride, values, and heritage of Mexican-American culture. MAOF, EFNEP, and UCCE Kern County staff provided 13 participants with a nine-week class using lessons from the Eating Smart, Being Active (ESBA) curriculum. ESBA is based on the latest research findings from the Dietary Guidelines and Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and offers information on physical activity, healthy lifestyle choices, food preparation, food safety, and food resource management. Participants received vital information that can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Seventy-seven percent of participants showed improvement in one or more food resource management practices (i.e., cook dinner at home, compare food prices, plan meals before shopping, look in refrigerator or cupboard before shopping, or make a list before shopping) and 62% of participants reported having enough money to buy food, which demonstrates improved food security.
All participants improved their healthy lifestyle practices. Significant changes among participants were documented using our Adult Questionnaire Survey, including improvement in one or more diet quality indicators (i.e., eating fruits, red, orange, and green vegetables, drinking less sugar-sweetened beverages and cooking dinner at home; b) 85% of participants showed improvement in one or more their physical activity behaviors (i.e., exercising for at least 30 minutes, doing workouts to build and strengthen muscles, or making small changes to be more active); and c) 85% of participants showed improvement in one or more evidence-based food safety practices (i.e., washing hands before preparing food, washing all items and surfaces after cutting raw meat or seafood, not thawing frozen food at room temperature, or using a meat thermometer), which can lead to a decrease in food borne illnesses, as stated by the CDC. Through this course, MAOF and EFNEP, UCCE Kern County are providing knowledge and skills that extend beyond participants to their entire families, which bolsters UC's public value of healthier families and communities.
“They all [participants] benefit from the information. They are more aware of what they are spending and how they can improve their budget and still eat nutritiously. Some participants have shared they recreated some of the recipes done in class.” - Two MAOF instructors.
These outcomes help UC ANR achieve improved food security and food safety in our communities, and represent the UC ANR's public value of safeguarding sufficient, safe, and healthy food for all Californians.