CFHL, UCCE and 4-H team up in Kern County to offer comprehensive food and nutrition education to farmworker families. Participants improved their food resource management and nutrition practices, contributing to UC ANR's public value of promoting healthy people and communities.
Shafter Healthy Start Family Resource Center (FRC) is part of the Richland School District in Shafter, CA. Shafer is a rural city located 18 miles northwest of Bakersfield. In order to proactively support families in creating healthy lifestyles, administrators and staff at Shafter Healthy Start FRC collaborated with CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE Kern (CFHL, UCCE Kern) and the Kern 4-H Program to provide family-centered virtual nutrition and cooking education from April 28 to May 19, 2021.
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%. Forty-four percent of children were drinking one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day, and only 34.8% of children ate five or more servings of fruits & vegetables a day. Obesity rates are also high, with nearly 50% of children and 74% of adults being either overweight or obese.
How UC Delivers
To provide comprehensive services to the 12 enrolled families, CFHL, UCCE Kern collaborated with the 4-H Program. Both parents and children received virtual lessons through Zoom to reduce obesity through healthy nutrition. Food resource management lessons from the Plan, Shop, Save, and Cook curriculum were taught in Spanish were also provided for families, with sessions held in the afternoon to accommodate farm working schedules. During the lessons, parents were taught how to plan their meals, read and understand food labels, save money on food, and ensure food safety. Physical activity breaks are incorporated in the lesson plan to illustrate the importance of active living for health and wellness.
The Kern 4-H Family Cooking Academy provided families with virtual cooking demonstrations using the Teens as Teachers model. A teen volunteer facilitated the food demonstration to the younger peers. Families received a bag with all the ingredients needed to follow along during the food demonstrations. Recipes chosen followed MyPlate recommendations and included various infused water recipes. During the demonstrations, food safety principles for both youth and adults were discussed. All food costs were covered by the Kern Family Health Care Community Grant that Shafter Healthy Start FRC received.
Families shared their enthusiasm to prepare food they had never tried before like tofu and quinoa. Some children seen on video gave a “thumbs up” after tasting the meals they helped create. Many shared that they would be willing to serve the recipe again to their families.
Plan, Shop, Save, and Cook (PSSC) adult participant evaluation survey results indicated that:
- 6 out of 7 participants reported improvement in at least 1 of the 5 food resource management behaviors (plan, prices, shop, think, facts).
- 6 out of 7 participants reported shopping with a grocery list more often.5 out of 7 participants reported planning meals ahead of time more often.
- 4 out of 7 participants reported that they use "Nutrition Facts" on the food label to make food choices more often.
- 4 out of 7 participants reported using MyPlate to make food choices more often.
- 4 out of 7 participants reported running out of food before the end of the month less often.
- 2 out of 7 participants reported comparing unit prices before buying food more often.
- 1 out of 7 participants reported that when deciding what to feed their family, they thought about healthy food choices more often.
The majority of these participants responded “Most of the time” (n=2) or “Almost always” (n=5) on the pre survey – leaving little room for improvement during the post survey.
Through this local partnership, CFHL, UCCE Kern and Kern 4-H demonstrate UC ANR's commitment to healthy people and communities, helping to improve the budgeting, nutrition knowledge and skills of farm working families in rural agricultural areas that would otherwise receive limited services of this type which can help influence future health outcomes.
"The nutrition classes have helped families try new healthy alternative ingredients that they normally do not buy or know much about. Having this partnership has given us the opportunity to educate children at their level of understanding, as well as parents. Shafter Healthy Start parents and students had a great experience during the class with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Thank You!" - Shafter Healthy Start FRC