Nutrition Policy Institute
Nutrition Policy Institute
Nutrition Policy Institute
University of California
Nutrition Policy Institute
NPI Vision Statement

News Brief Sign-Up

Be sure to sign up to receive Research to Action, the Nutrition Policy Institute's news brief providing information on research, policy, news, announcements, events, articles and action items focused on nutrition and healthy communities.


November 4, 2017

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers present on a wide range of topics at APHA Annual Meeting

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers will be presenting on a range of topics at the American Public Health Association's 2017 Annual Meeting as part of the Food and Nutrition Section’s program.The largest public health meeting in the world, APHA 2017 takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, from November 4 to 8, 2017, and is expected to bring together more than 12,000 researchers and professionals from across the U.S. and around the world to network, educate and share experiences. NPI’s presentations focus on the wide range of topics that NPI researches, including breastfeeding among women on WIC, school wellness policies, communities and child nutrition (part of the Healthy Communities Study) and compliance with the new CACFP nutrition standards in childcare centers and homes in California


October 25, 2017

Lorrene Ritchie, Suzanna Martinez, and Ruben Canedo to discuss food insecurity at 2017 SSEW conference

Lorrene Ritchie and Suzanna Martinez of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Ruben Canedo of UC Berkeley and the UC Global Food Initiative will discuss food insecurity at the 11th Annual Sugar, Stress, Environment, and Weight (SSEW) Symposium. This year’s theme is Hungry for Change: Food Insecurity, Stress, and Obesity, and the symposium will take place on October 25, 2017, at UCLA. Registration is free.


October 23, 2017

Dana Gerstein presents on health and wellness impacts of Chicago’s Space to Grow initiative

Nutrition Policy Institute Academic Coordinator Dana Gerstein presents a talk at NPI on “Space to Grow, Evaluation Methods for Built Environments: Public Parks and Green Spaces” on Monday, October 23, 2017 at noon. Gerstein’s presentation will describe an evaluation methodology used to measure the impact of a built environment intervention, Chicago's Space To Grow Initiative, on the health and wellness of a community. The implementation of such evaluation methods could provide evidence that a healthy built environment can be a solution to health inequities. Regular access to public parks and green spaces offer numerous health and wellness benefits for individuals and communities, including physical activity, increased diversity of play, positive social interactions, increased resilience, stress reduction, improved social emotional health, improved academic outcomes and increased social capital.


October 23, 2017

Suzanna Martinez participates in #RealCollege

Nutrition Policy Institute’s Suzanna Martinez will participate in the Second #RealCollege Convening, October 23-24 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The national convening is led by Wisconsin HOPE Lab and provides an opportunity to interact and learn from leaders working to reduce food and housing insecurity.


October 5, 2017

Lorrene Ritchie presents two talks at UC Davis Human Lactation Center conference

Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie presents two talks on October 5, 2017, during the UC Davis Human Lactation Center’s “Understanding Healthy Feeding Transitions and Behavior in Infants and Young Children” 2017 conference. The first talk, on “Feeding Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers: A Responsive Parenting Approach” is from 11 am to 12:15 pm. Ritchie was on the expert panel that produced the Healthy Eating Research publication Feeding Guidelines for Infants and Young Toddlers: A Responsive Parenting Approach. The second talk, from 2:45 to 3:45 pm, is on “Beginning at the Start: Importance of Nutrition During Early Childhood Transitions.”


October 4, 2017

Proceedings available from National Academies workshop on limiting sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in young children; Christina Hecht presented

Nutrition Policy Institute Senior Policy Advisor Christina Hecht presented at a workshop on June 21, 2017 at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine on “Strategies to Limit Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in Young Children.” The proceedings of the workshop are now available. Hecht discussed the need for better data on young children’s hydration status and longitudinal changes in beverage intake, the efforts to make water the normative beverage after age-appropriate amounts of milk, and water safety issues. Hecht also reviewed water availability issues, and she described studies in which improving water access and offering beverage selection education in the school setting increased water intake among students. Hecht added that little research has been done in the child care setting to date, and she outlined new beverage standards for child care programs operating under the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) that are effective October 1, 2017: “Water must be offered throughout the day with visual cues.” In considering the current status of beverage intake among young children, Hecht suggested that a need exists to provide clear guidance to parents and caregivers on what, how and how much children should be drinking.


October 4, 2017

National Drinking Water Alliance website features new fact sheet on private well water safety

A new fact sheet on the National Drinking Water Alliance website, Closing the Water Quality Gap, helps state and local health department staff who want to understand how state and local policy, as well as outreach and education, can be used to ensure access to safe drinking water for people who use private wells. The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulates the nation’s public drinking water supply, safeguarding drinking water for the majority of U.S. residents. However, twelve percent of the U.S. population, or 34 million people, get their water from private wells, and these smaller water systems do not meet the federal definition of a public water system and therefore are not regulated by federal law. This regulatory gap can be addressed at state and local levels through the adoption of state and local policies. Educating stakeholders about the potential risks of these federally unregulated water systems can be an effective way to gain support for such policy changes. The Closing the Water Quality Gap fact sheet defines policy, discusses the role that health departments can play in policy change and provides examples of state and local policies that can be applied to federally unregulated wells.


September 25, 2017

Kris Madsen to discuss “Leveling the Playing Field” at Just Food podcast launch on October 3

Just Food is a new 6-part podcast series about cultivating justice and health, produced by the Berkeley Food Institute in partnership with the UC Berkeley Advanced Media Institute at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. A launch event, on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 from 5 to 7 pm, will feature a preview of the upcoming episode “Leveling the Playing Field,” a story about the nation’s first sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Berkeley—from how the measure came into law in 2014 to how the tax and the revenue it generates are shaping the health of Berkeley residents today. A panel discussion and Q&A session with experts and community members featured in the podcast will be followed by a reception. NPI Affiliate Researcher Kris Madsen, who also is the faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute, will participate in the panel discussion; her research team recently conducted the first study to examine the impact of Berkeley’s soda tax on sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in low-income neighborhoods in Berkeley. Ed Wasserman, dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, will provide opening remarks, and the panel discussion will be followed by comments from Sarah Bell, program director of the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation, which provided funding for the podcast series.


September 21, 2017

Jennifer Sowerwine speaks at Nutrition Policy Institute about the UC Gill Tract Community Farm

Jennifer Sowerwine PhD, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist and faculty member in the UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, delivered a presentation at the Nutrition Policy Institute on “From Occupation to Collaboration: Establishing a community-university partnership at the UC Gill Tract Community Farm to address urban food insecurity and food justice.” Sowerwine's research interests include building equitable, economically viable and culturally relevant food systems in metropolitan areas that contribute to healthy communities, ecological diversity and sustainable livelihoods. She described the origin and creation of the innovative collaborative project between the community and the university at the UC Gill Tract Community Farm. As part of the presentation, she shared results from the recently completed Biennial Report on activities, outcomes and future visions for expansion at the farm. In support of the project, NPI staff will volunteer at the farm.   


September 18, 2017

Lorrene Ritchie presents on Healthy Communities Study at the National Academies

Lorrene Ritchie gave a presentation to the National Academies’ Roundtable on Obesity Solutions about the Healthy Communities Study of the impacts of community efforts nationally on child nutrition. Colleagues joining Ritchie to present on different aspects of the Healthy Communities Study included Sonia Arteaga from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health; Steve Fawcett from University of Kansas; Warren Strauss from Battelle; and Russ Pate from the University of South Carolina.


September 15, 2017

Registration open for the 11th Annual Sugar, Stress, Environment, and Weight (SSEW) Symposium—Nutrition Policy Institute researchers to present

Registration is open for the 11th Annual Sugar, Stress, Environment, and Weight (SSEW) Symposium to be held on October 25 on the UCLA campus. This year's theme is “Hungry for Change: Food Insecurity, Stress and Obesity.” The symposium is presented by the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST) and the UCLA Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy, and features leading researchers, including the Nutrition Policy Institute’s Lorrene Ritchie and Suzanna Martinez, and UC Global Food Initiative’s Ruben Canedo, who will participate in a panel discussion on “University of California Leading the Way to Address Food Insecurity in Students,” and NPI’s Barbara Laraia, who will be part of a panel discussion on “Food Insecurity, Stress, and Nutrition.” Register.


September 14, 2017

Global Food Initiative issue of California Agriculture features work by NPI’s Ritchie and Martinez

A special double issue of UC ANR’s California Agriculture magazine is now available, featuring 96 pages of research and other articles related to UC’s Global Food Initiative. The issue was guided by Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie and GFI Program Manager Gale Sheean-Remotto and includes an editorial by UC President Janet Napolitano, six stories on the the Global Food Initiative’s accomplishments and 10 research papers. NPI’s Suzanna Martinez contributed the paper ”College students identify university support for basic needs and life skills as key ingredient in food insecurity on campus.” Ritchie and Martinez previously published the groundbreaking 2016 University of California systemwide survey that showed that 42% of UC college students experienced food insecurity.


September 14, 2017

National Child and Adult Care Food Program Sponsors Association welcomes NPI as national ally

In their recent newsletter, the National Child and Adult Care Food Program Sponsors Association welcomed the Nutrition Policy Institute as a national ally, saying about NPI that “Their work on CACFP and childcare includes supporting the successful implementation of the new CACFP regulations.”


September 12, 2017

The National Drinking Water Alliance holds Congressional educational briefing in Washington, D.C.

The National Drinking Water Alliance held a Congressional educational briefing on September 12, 2017, in the U.S. Capitol on "Issues in Drinking Water." Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) co-sponsored the briefing. Attendees included representatives from more than 50 organizations and congressional staffers from both sides of the aisle. The briefing featured three distinguished speakers who highlighted the importance of drinking water for health and the need for sturdy infrastructure for tap water: William H. Dietz, chair of the Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at George Washington University; Vice Admiral Manson Brown of the U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.); and Tom Neltner of the Environmental Defense Fund. The briefing kicked off with a surprise for the crowd of well over 100 attendees: Steph Curry, of the defending NBA champions the Golden State Warriors, gave a vibrant shout-out for water and welcoming message by video.


September 12, 2017

Research to Action September 2017 issue focuses on oral health and medical professionals' collaboration to reduce obesity, tooth decay

The September 2017 issue of the Nutrition Policy Institute's Research to Action highlights ways that oral health and medical professionals can partner to reduce children's consumption of a shared enemy that leads to both obesity and dental caries: sugar-sweetened beverages.


September 11, 2017

Nutrition Policy Institute mentioned on Gastropod podcast

The Gastropod “Lunch Gets Schooled” episode, released September 11, 2017, mentions Nutrition Policy Institute’s research collaboration with UC Berkeley economists to investigate how healthy school lunches affect students' academic success. The NPI research mentioned on the podcast was previously highlighted in an article in The Atlantic in March 2017.


September 8, 2017

Ron Strochlic collaborates with Berkeley Food Institute to research the Equitable Food Initiative

As part of a Berkeley Food Institute project (“Making the Business Case for Improved Farm Labor Conditions”) and in collaboration with researchers at UC Berkeley, the Nutrition Policy Institute’s Ron Strochlic conducted research on the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI), a new voluntary certification program promoting reduced pesticide use, increased food safety and improved labor conditions on farms in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The research goals were to: 1) develop a set of indicators to lay the groundwork for future research quantifying costs and benefits associated with participation in social certification schemes, and 2) explore the “Leadership Teams” model, an innovative worker-management model promoting worker awareness of the EFI standards and improved channels of communication. The research findings indicate a range of costs and benefits associated with social certification and the Leadership Teams model, including improved food safety, improved channels of communication and improved conditions for agricultural workers. The research was funded by the Berkeley Food Institute and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Read more about “Making the Business Case for Improved Farm Labor Conditions” in Berkeley Food Institute’s Interdisciplinary Research Projects 2013-2017 booklet.


September 7, 2017

Nutrition Policy Institute affiliated researcher Kris Madsen begins role as faculty director of Berkeley Food Institute

Nutrition Policy Institute affiliated researcher Kris Madsen MD, MPH, begins a new role as faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute as of the start of the fall semester. Madsen looks forward to "working with faculty, students and staff across campus to advance sustainable agricultural practices, to ensure fair labor practices across the food chain, and to innovate to ensure access to affordable and healthy food in all communities."


August 28, 2017

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ workgroup releases 2018 Farm Bill priorities; NPI’s Lauren Au was co-chair of workgroup

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill have been released by the Academy’s Farm Bill workgroup. The workgroup was co-chaired by Nutrition Policy Institute’s Lauren Au and Creating a Hunger Free North Dakota’s Karen Ehrens. Working under the Legislative and Public Policy Committee, the Academy’s Farm Bill workgroup prioritizes four major areas of work, each of which has specific programmatic and structural recommendations for Congress to consider as they work on the 2018 Farm Bill. The four areas are: 1) Empower consumers — drive demand toward healthful foods and reduce food waste, 2) Ensure sound science and program evaluation for future evidenced-based decision making, 3) Support innovative nutrition assistance programs to improve access to healthful, affordable and safe foods, and 4) Support the food supply chain: producers and retailers that create a healthful and safe food system and reduce food waste.


August 24, 2017

USDA/ARS Center for WIC Nutrition Education Innovations publishes workshop summary and final report

The United States Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS) Children’s Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) at Baylor College of Medicine was awarded funding to create the USDA Center for WIC Nutrition Education Innovations (CNRC WIC Center) in August 2012. The major goal of the CNRC WIC Center was to develop and administer a competitive process to solicit, evaluate and fund innovative and effective WIC nutrition education sub-grants. A Request for Applications was developed and issued two times. University-based researchers, collaborating with state/local WIC collaborators, were eligible to respond. Four awards were made: 1) Dr. Rafael Perez-Escamilla at Yale for LATCH (Lactation Advice Thru Texting Can Help), 2) Dr. Lorrene Ritchie at University of California Nutrition Policy Institute for Online Nutrition Education: WIC in the 21st Century, 3) Dr. Jennifer Di Noia at William Paterson University for Online WIC Nutrition Education to Promote Farmer Markets Fruit and Vegetable Purchases and Consumption, and 4) Dr. M. Jane Heinig at University of California, Davis for Supporting Baby Behavior Through Pediatric Offices. These were distinct projects with different outcomes measures (breakfast dietary behaviors, salt reduction, breastfeeding maintenance for three months, timing of first postpartum contact between mother and Peer Counselor, improvements in fruit and vegetable intake and use of farmers’ market nutrition program and WIC cash value vouchers, and the effect of providing baby behavior tools and training designed for medical staff on provider knowledge and practice and on WIC participant outcomes (infant BMI z score). The USDA/ARS Center for WIC Nutrition Education Innovations has now published a workshop summary and final report on the funded studies.


August 7, 2017

NPI to evaluate Riverside Unified School District's innovative Food Hub

The Nutrition Policy Institute is evaluating a new model of distribution of fresh produce by a school district that benefits both farmers and the local community. The Food Hub, pioneered by the Riverside, California Unified School District, provides a model that can expand markets for specialty crops into areas that lack the resources and volume to make fresh produce part of their menus or sales, and that the growers previously have not been able to penetrate. Small school districts, corner stores, childcare homes and centers, small restaurants and WIC stores can all benefit from the increased access to fresh produce through the RUSD Food Hub. In addition, these outlets provide a place to sell small and cosmetically imperfect produce, thereby reducing food waste while also developing a new revenue stream for local farmers. If the RUSD Food Hub is successful, the model could be adopted by other large school districts, each of which can develop new markets for specialty crop growers while improving nutrition for needy communities.


August 4, 2017

Suzanna Martinez attends summer institute at NYU’s Langone Medical Center

Suzanna Martinez MS, PhD, just completed a training program in Behavioral Sleep and Medicine at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The training program, which is part of the Programs to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research (PRIDE), aims to increase the number of scientists and research-oriented faculty who are from backgrounds currently under-represented in the biomedical sciences by preparing them to successfully compete for external funding for scientific research in heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders. Successful completion of this institute establishes a network of 36 trained minority faculty applying proven behavioral cardiovascular disease risk reduction models to eliminate health disparities.


July 31, 2017

National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research spotlights Healthy Communities Study

The Healthy Communities Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was highlighted in the July 2017 issue of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research newsletter after the first study findings were published online in the American Journal of Preventive Health. The authors of the study, which included the Nutrition Policy Institute’s Lorrene Ritchie, concluded “Healthy weight among children is influenced by conditions that make it easier and more rewarding to engage in multiple behaviors related to physical activity and healthy nutrition.” 


July 23, 2017

Lauren Au presents at Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior conference

Lauren Au, PhD, RD, presented as part of the e-Learning and Nutrition Education for Lower-Income Audiences panel at the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior conference in Washington D.C. The panel raised awareness and demonstrated innovative eLearning delivery nutrition education programs especially tailored to lower-income audiences, such as those eligible for WIC, EFNEP, and SNAP-Ed. Au shared NPI’s research on WIC from two papers: If You Build It They Will Come: Satisfaction and Utilization of WIC Participants with Online and Traditional In-Person Nutrition Education, and Evaluation of Online and In-Person Nutrition Education Related to Salt Knowledge and Behaviors among Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children Participants.


July 18, 2017

Blog: From WIC to SNAP: Benefits Go Farther with Behavioral Science

ideas42 has just published a blog post discussing efforts to use behavioral science to maximize the impact of public programs, helping benefits reach more people who need them. ideas 42 and the Nutrition Policy Institute collaborated on a report, "Using Behavioral Science to Improve the WIC Experience," that was published in May.


July 5, 2017

Lorrene Ritchie co-authors Healthy Communities Study

Lorrene Ritchie is a co-author of Community Policies and Programs to Prevent Obesity and Child Adiposity, also known as the Healthy Communities Study. The observational study assessed the relationships of characteristics and intensity of community policies and programs with adiposity, diet and physical activity in children, taking advantage of variation across the U.S. in community actions to prevent child obesity. The study provides plausible evidence that comprehensive community policies and programs targeting a greater number of distinct physical activity and nutrition behaviors were associated with lower child adiposity.



Please see additional news items in our News section


You can now contribute to the work of NPI by making a tax-deductible donation. Your gift will help reduce food insecurity, obesity and diabetes by ensuring that healthy food, beverages and opportunities for physical activity are convenient, accessible, affordable and sustainable.


Webmaster Email: