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UC Food and Agriculture Blogs

UC researcher is promoting healthy families in Tulare and Kings county communities

In a new series starting today, UC ANR features a sampling of our academics whose work exemplifies the public value UC ANR brings to California.

UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor Deepa Srivastava arrived in the San Joaquin Valley in 2017 to conduct a research and education program that makes children and families healthier in Tulare and Kings counties.

Srivastava joined Cooperative Extension with diverse experience in obesity prevention research and program implementation and evaluation. Her job combines extension, research, university and public service to promote healthy living among families and children in low-income communities.

“I could hardly believe how well this job fit my interests, skills and education,” she said. “I have been involved in research and implementation and evaluation of nutrition education programs in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The UCCE position is ideal.”

UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor Deepa Srivastava in front of one of the posters she presented at the California Childhood Obesity Conference.

Born in India, Srivastava immigrated to the United States after completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in her home state of Allahabad. She also earned a master's degree at North Dakota State University before moving to Nebraska, where she earned a Ph.D. in human sciences, with specialization in child, youth and family studies. After completing her doctorate degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Srivastava also worked as a project lead for the Ecological Approach to (EAT) Family Style project.

“My educational background and diverse experience prepared me to be a professional in the field of childhood obesity prevention and nutrition education,” Srivastava said.

Srivastava manages two federally funded nutrition programs for low income residents of Tulare and Kings counties. The CalFresh Healthy Living program presents information on food safety, food resource management, gardening, physical activity and youth engagement. Educators reach out to elementary schools to help develop school wellness policies and make lunchroom changes that steer children toward making nutritious food choices.

The second program, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, presents a series of classes to low-income families at community centers, schools and other service centers. The classes help participants stretch their food dollars, select and prepare healthy foods and take part in physical activity.

To shape her research program in Tulare and Kings counties, Srivastava conducted a needs assessment study to understand nutrition practices in early childhood education settings. Tulare and Kings counties are among the counties in the state with high levels of obesity and food insecurity.

Following her needs assessment, Srivastava concluded a successful pilot focused on preschoolers in Kings County. She and her nutrition team in Kings County, in partnership with the Department of Hospitality Management at West Hills Community College-Lemoore and preschools located at the college campus, implemented a collaborative nutrition education program to help preschoolers learn about healthy eating.

Srivastava is conducting further research to assess program sustainability and community engagement efforts, including how nutrition education offered by UCCE in Tulare and Kings counties motivates children and families to improve their knowledge, attitude, skills and behavior. Her research aims to understand the influences on children's eating and physical activity practices.

Srivastava is actively involved in obesity prevention initiatives within UC ANR and at the local, statewide and national level. Working with local community partners, she and her team have already introduced a number of change initiatives in Tulare and Kings counties to promote healthy lifestyles across lifespan, such as establishing new school gardens, youth engagement projects, healthy youth farmer's market and physical activity such as walking clubs and dance exercise classes.

“Our team is supported by experts from the University of California who are on the cutting-edge of the latest research and curriculum design,” Srivastava said.

Srivastava and her team were recognized at the National Extension Association for Family & Consumer Sciences conference in Hershey, Penn., in October 2019, where they won two SNAP-Ed/EFNEP awards: third-place at the national level and first place for the Western region.

“I am proud of my team's passion and hard work,” she said. “Our nutrition education programs have meaningful private and public values that promote healthy people and communities.”

Posted on Monday, January 27, 2020 at 11:22 AM

Winter Pest Prevention in the Home

House mice prefer grains but will consume many different foods. (Credit: R Marsh)

It's often easier to prevent pests before they become a problem than to try and get rid of them once they infest a home. While some pests can be active year-round, cooler temperatures trigger some pests to find shelter indoors. Creatures such as rats or...

Posted on Sunday, January 19, 2020 at 12:00 PM

Rats and Mice: How to Manage Using Snap Traps

Roof rat on a kitchen sink. (Credit: N Quinn)

Trapping is the safest and most effective method for controlling rats and mice in and around homes, garages, and other structures. Rodents that live in close association with humans are called commensal rodents. Rats and mice are the most frequently...

Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 3:00 PM

Top Ten Pest Notes of 2019

Foliage damaged by leaf curl. (Credit: Jack Kelly Clark)

At some point, all of us encounter a pest in our home, garden, or landscape. But you're not alone! UC IPM publishes Pest Notes – a series of more than 150 papers reviewed by experts in the field – to provide science-based information about...

Posted on Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 8:00 AM

Cockroaches! Updated Pest Notes

Female German cockroach with ootheca. (Credit: DH Choe)

Cockroaches, or roaches, are probably some of the least welcome insects people encounter in their homes, kitchens, offices, restaurants, or landscapes. Indoor cockroaches can create significant public health problems by contaminating food and producing...

Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at 2:00 PM

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