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.



August 2, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Tia Shimada and Lorrene Ritchie on research to policy

Tia Shimada, director of programs at California Food Policy Advocates, and Lorrene Ritchie, director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and UC Cooperative Extension specialist, discuss how research can—and should—shape public policy. They will draw on years of partnership between advocates and academic researchers to share lessons learned about designing, conducting and disseminating policy-focused research. They will also talk about how advocates work with researchers of all stripes—from tenured faculty to think-tank data wonks—to advance state and federal policy.


July 26, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Mark Bell on the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Jigsaw

Mark Bell, vice provost of strategic initiatives and statewide programs for the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will talk about the interrelationship of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ (UC ANR) strategic initiativesstatewide programsprogram teams and workgroups and the new UC ANR public value statements. UC ANR improves the lives of Californians through its research and extension in the areas of agriculture, the environment, natural resources management, and human and community development. The division develops and delivers solutions to local problems in such areas as farming, nutrition, veterinary medicine, water quality and conservation, and offers programs for youth and families. The effects of these efforts have been widespread—from the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the fibers that clothe us, to the programs that sustain our natural environments and provide educational programs for inner-city at-risk youth.


July 23, 2018

Lorrene Ritchie presents at Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior 2018 Annual Conference

Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie presents "School Meals in the 21st Century: Using Technology and Design Innovation" at the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior 2018 Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She will discuss results from a study of school food service redesign to improve meal participation and dietary intake. The results have been used to inform policy related to targeted technological interventions, point of sale and staff promotions to improve school meal participation rates, improve participant diet quality and variety, and decrease obesity in school meal participants. Earlier this year, Ritchie was honored as a Gold Author by the Society's Journal of Nutrition of Education and Behavior (JNEB) in recognition of her many excellent manuscripts published in JNEB during the last ten years.


July 12, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Andrea Begley on furthering food and nutrition policy in Australia

Action to progress food and nutrition policy in Australia has not been successful in the past decade even though diet is the leading contributor to the burden of disease and the latest release of national nutrition survey results convincingly demonstrate the nutrition problems. Political responses in the form of programs or interventions can best be described as patchy. Serious questions remain about the capacity of the three tiers of government to plan, coordinate and implement effective solutions. Andrea Begley, senior lecturer in dietetics and public health at the School of Public Health at Curtin University in Western Australia, will discuss current attempts to improve diet quality, as well as ideas for furthering food and nutrition policy in Australia



July 11, 2018

Childhood Obesity Conference call for presenter proposals is open

The 10th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference (COC), to be held July 15-18, 2019 in Anaheim, California, invites individuals and organizations engaged in researching, developing, implementing and evaluating policy and environmental strategies that address root causes of childhood obesity to submit proposals for consideration for inclusion in the 10th Biennial COC program. The theme of the conference is "Beyond Obesity: Tackling Root Causes." The deadline for submission of proposals is Friday, August 3, 2018. In addition, the call for pre-conference session proposals will open in fall 2018.


July 2, 2018

In memoriam: Susie Nanney

On June 15, 2018, the Nutrition Policy Institute lost a colleague and friend, Susie Nanney. Susie was an associate professor at the University of Minnesota where she served as director of the population health division. She was the founding director of the Health Equity in Policy Initiative for the Program in Health Disparities Research. Her research focused on obesity prevention, hunger relief, health disparities and policy. She worked to improve children’s and family health in underserved and rural communities. We will miss her as a colleague and as a champion in promoting population health and reducing health disparities. An undergraduate scholarship is being established in her name at the University of Minnesota. The purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to undergraduate students with financial need. Donate to the Susie Nanney Scholarship Fund.


June 29, 2018

Christina Hecht and Laura Vollmer present a workshop in Chicago: Just Add Water! Healthy Beverages in Child Care

The Nutrition Policy Institute's Christina Hecht and Laura Vollmer present a workshop during the National Association for Family Child Care Conference in Chicago, Illinois. The workshop, Just Add Water! Healthy Beverages in Child Care, covers the importance of drinking water, not sugary drinks, for health. Attendees will learn the latest news on drinking water and beverages in child care. Results from a new study on nutrition standards in family child care, new beverage guidance for young children, and educational and promotional resources will be provided to help attendees put new drinking water guidance into practice. The workshop is at 10 a.m. in the Tegel room.


June 28, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Marianne Bitler on "Impacts of Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs"

Marianne P. Bitler, professor in the UC Davis Department of Economics, will discuss research on the effects of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC) on participants' food acquisition, diet and health outcomes. She will also discuss research on the long-term effects of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (previously known as the Food Stamp program) on participants' earnings and use of disability benefits.


June 26, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Ingrid Feng on "Farming for Native Bees: Seeking a Solution to the Honey Bee Crisis"

Ingrid Feng, whose experience includes work as a native bee researcher at the UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab, discusses the decline of honey bee populations and the potential of using wild native bees as an alternate pollination source for our nation's crops. Research shows that wild native bees have the capacity to pollinate just as efficiently as honey bees. Support for native bees in agricultural, wild and urban settings has implications for agriculture, conservation and public health, however. While native bees may alleviate the immediate honey bee crisis, they do not resolve the underlying problems resulting from dependence on one bee species for crop pollination. View the slides for this presentation. 


June 11, 2018

Lorrene Ritchie presents at Nutrition 2018, the American Society for Nutrition’s annual conference

Lorrene Ritchie presents Community Programs, Policies and Practices Related to an Increased Prevalence of Healthy Weight: The California Healthy Kids Study at Nutrition 2018, the American Society for Nutrition’s annual conference. She will be discussing characteristics of successful programs to promote healthy weight among middle schoolers.


June 1, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Safety Net Investments in Children: The Evidence on SNAP with Hilary Hoynes

In this talk, UC Berkeley Professor of Economics and Public Policy Hilary Hoynes will review what is known about the long-term effects of SNAP on health and economic outcomes. In particular, she will examine how giving more food assistance to families when children are young translates into outcomes in adulthood. She will present results from some of her work in progress, “Is the Social Safety Net a Long-Term Investment? Large-Scale Evidence from the Food Stamps Program.”


May 24, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: A Conversation about Genetically Modified Food,  Part 2: Plant Genetics and the Future of Food with Pam Ronald

Pam Ronald PhDa Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Davis, and Director of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy, discusses how integrated approaches are needed to enhance sustainable agriculture. The genetic engineering of crops launched in 1996; the marker assisted breeding of today and the genome editing of tomorrow are examples of a continuum of new technologies aimed at helping farmers produce food in a productive and ecologically based manner. Learn more


May 14, 2018

UC ANR/NPI Seeks UC Global Food Initiative Fellow

The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources/Nutrition Policy Institute are seeking outstanding UC students to apply for the 2018-19 UC Global Food Initiative Fellowship in Communications/Outreach. The UC ANR GFI Fellowship in Communications/Outreach focuses on community outreach and education, specifically: 1) educating the public through written, visual, and online communications about nutrition policy, food security, federal food programs, food waste reuse, childhood obesity prevention and other nutrition and food policy topics, and 2) educating the public through written, visual, and online communications about UC ANR’s impact on the above topics. The application deadline is Monday, May 21, 2018. For more information and application instructions, please see the UC ANR GFI Fellow in Communications flyer


May 10, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: The built environment and health equity in Alameda County

Anna Lee, Guenet Sebsibe and Jenny Wang of the Alameda County Public Health Department will discuss policy, program, and partnering efforts to increase health equity in Alameda County. Policy efforts include the Place Matters program, a local policy initiative addressing land use and transportation policy issues that involves collaboration with public health programs and community organizations. Program efforts include the Healthy Retail Program, which works with small corner stores in food deserts to offer healthier options. Partnering efforts include collaborations with schools, early childhood- as well as youth-serving organizations, parks and recreation centers, faith-based institutions, retail stores, low-income senior and family housing, and grassroots and community-based organizations.


May 3-4, 2018

Suzanna Martinez participates in UC Global Food Initiative Food Access and Security Basic Needs subcommittee meeting

Suzanna Martinez participated in the UC Global Food Initiative Food Access and Security Basic Needs subcommittee annual meeting at UC Santa Cruz. The meeting was led by Tim Galarneau and Ruben Canedo and attended by representatives from all 10 UC campuses and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. This committee of the UC Global Food Initiative convened to discuss achievements during the previous year and to plan activities for the coming year.


May 3, 2018

Join us for the Rural Food Banking in California webinar

Rural food banks face unique challenges in trying to help families reduce food insecurity. The California Association of Food Banks is working to support its rural members to address the challenges of rural food banking. Cooperative Extension and SNAP-Ed are also key partners with food banks and their affiliated agencies supporting the distribution of healthy foods and associated nutrition education. The UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute is working with food banks in California and around the country to develop and implement policies that support the provision of more healthy foods in food banksJoin us for a webinar on rural food banking on Thursday, May 3 at 1 pm PT. This webinar will bring together key stakeholders and explore the challenges of transporting, storing and distributing healthy foods to rural communities. Participants will learn about findings from an assessment of rural food banks in California identifying issues and concerns about the transportation, storage and distribution of healthy food. Participants will also hear directly about unique solutions that are being successfully implemented by rural food banks in California and other states. The webinar will include a brainstorming session to identify other ways that we can support rural food banks.


May 3, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Maggi Kelly on using mapping technology in public health and nutrition work

Maggi Kelly, professor and cooperative extension specialist in the Environmental Science, Policy and Management department and affiliated professor of Geography at UC Berkeley, will speak on how to use mapping technology in public health and nutrition work. Spatial data collection, analysis and visualization has changed dramatically in the last decade and we now are able to use this 21st-century mapping toolkit to address contemporary challenges in public health, nutrition, food systems, food security and obesity research, among other fields. In this talk, Kelly will review recent advancements in data, analysis tools and communication, and highlight key cases from her work and elsewhere that illustrate the exciting and dynamic geospatial landscape.


April 26, 2018

Dani Lee teaches about Nutrition Facts label on Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

University of California Office of the President (UCOP) staff celebrated Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day with a myriad of activities led by volunteers on a range of topics.  Nutrition Policy Institute's Dani Lee, also representing the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, taught kids how to read the Nutrition Facts Label to tell if a drink has added sugars.  


April 25–27, 2018

Nutrition Policy Institute presents at Healthy Eating Research annual meeting

A group of Nutrition Policy Institute staff attends the 12th annual meeting of Healthy Eating Research (HER) in Nashville, Tennessee, to present their research funded by HER. Lorrene Ritchie PhD, RD, director of NPI, presents with California Food Policy Advocates partner Elyse Homel Vitale MPH on “Nutrition in Licensed Child-Care Centers and Homes in California: Compliance With the 2017 CACFP Nutrition Standards and 2010 Healthy Beverages Standards.” Ritchie also presents a poster on “Relationship of School and Community Programs, Policies and Practices with Child BMI: the California Healthy Kids Study.” In a session dedicated to helping grantees understand how research and communicating research results effectively to the right audiences can influence policy debates, NPI Assistant Researcher Lauren Au PhD, RD,  discusses the tools she uses to reach and influence policymakers. Au also presents on “Eating School Meals Daily Is Associated with Healthier Dietary Intakes: The Healthy Communities Study.”  NPI Senior Policy Analyst Christina Hecht PhD presents with Angie Craddock ScD, MPE of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on “Early Adopters: Current Practices and Preliminary Findings in States Adopting School-Based Water Quality Testing Programs” and Hecht also presents with Anisha Patel MD, MSPH, MSHS of Stanford University on “Developing, Validating and Feasibility Testing a Cost-effective Photo-evidence Method to Assess Effectiveness of Access to Drinking Water in Schools.” NPI Director of Policy Ken Hecht LLB moderates the panel on “Innovative Strategies to Promote Water Access and Consumption” and NPI Associate Director of Research Gail Woodward-Lopez MPH, RD moderates the panel on “Schools II: Approaches to Healthy Eating and Wellness in Schools.” Healthy Eating Research is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that supports research on environmental and policy strategies that have strong potential to promote healthy eating among children, especially among lower-income and racial and ethnic populations at highest risk for obesity. Research is conducted in order to advance RWJF’s efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic and help all children in the United States to grow up at a healthy weight.


April 23 - 25, 2018

Suzanna Martinez attends 2018 PRIDE (Program to Increase Diversity among Individuals Engaged In Health-Related Research) annual meeting

Suzanna Martinez attended the 2018 PRIDE (Program to Increase Diversity among Individuals Engaged In Health-Related Research) annual meeting, which took place in Bethesda, Maryland. PRIDE is an all-expense-paid Summer Institute, research education and mentoring initiative sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Last August, Martinez completed a Summer Institute training program in Behavioral Sleep and Medicine at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. At the PRIDE annual meeting, she networked with junior faculty working in the area of chronic disease prevention in the Latino community, and she made several contacts, including some for future collaboration. The Summer Institute initiative addresses the difficulties experienced by junior investigators and transitioning postdoctoral scientists in establishing independent academic research careers and negotiating through the academic ranks. The primary outcome of this program is to increase the number of scientists and research-oriented faculty who are from backgrounds currently under-represented in the biomedical sciences and those with disabilities, by preparing them to successfully compete for external funding for scientific research in heart, lung, blood, and sleep (HLBS) disorders.


April 21, 2018

Pat Crawford honored by UC Berkeley School of Public Health

As part of its 75th anniversary celebration, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health honored Nutrition Policy Institute Senior Director of Research Pat Crawford DrPH, MPH, RD as one of its 75 most influential alumni in recognition of her significant contributions to reduce the epidemic of childhood obesity in California and across the country. Crawford is also an adjunct professor at the School and co-founded and directed the Center for Weight and Health at UC Berkeley for 15 years before joining the Nutrition Policy Institute.


April 20, 2018

USDA study finds positive nutrition outcomes among WIC participants; Lorrene Ritchie and Lauren Au are co-authors

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) was established to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant women and infants who are at nutritional risk. The WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2 (WIC ITFPS-2), also known as the “Feeding My Baby” Study, captures data on caregivers and their children over the first 5 years of the child’s life after WIC enrollment to address a series of research questions regarding feeding practices, associations between WIC services and those practices, and the health and nutrition outcomes of children receiving WIC. The study previously produced two reports, the Intentions to Breastfeed Report and the Infant Year Report.  The newest report, the Second-Year Report, focuses on caregivers’ employment, school and child care circumstances, as well as the feeding progressions, dietary intake and weight status of children from birth through around 24 months. Key findings show positive nutrition outcomes among WIC participants. NPI Director Lorrene Ritchie and Assistant Researcher Lauren Au are co-authors of the new study.


April 20, 2018

Christina Hecht presents drinking water workshop at National Child Nutrition Conference

Nutrition Policy Institute Senior Policy Advisor Christina Hecht presents an interactive workshop on “Offering help with 'offer':  Meeting the new Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) water provisions” as part of the National Child Nutrition Conference in San Antonio, Texas. See the schedule.


April 18, 2018

Improving community health: NPI researchers identify promising approaches for healthy eating and active living in low-income communities

12-article supplement about Kaiser Permanente’s Community Health Initiative published today by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine features papers by UC Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Suzanne Rauzon, Gail Woodward-Lopez and Janice Kao. The NPI researchers evaluated Kaiser Permanente’s 10-year place-based initiative focused on policy and environmental supports for healthy eating and active living in high-risk communities. With partners at the Center for Community Health and Evaluation, they developed the “Population Dose” method to evaluate multi-sector, multi-level community health initiatives. Findings of their study confirm that 1) Successful community change requires reaching a broad segment of the populations, strong strategies for change and frequent exposure to those; 2) Community changes in healthy eating and activity were most impactful in school and child care settings—and included a focus on increasing physical activity; and 3) Successful sustainable changes in the food and activity environment in child care settings requires changes in institutional practices in combination with supportive policy. These papers included in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine Supplement are:

The final evaluation report of the Community Health Initiative, completed by Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Center for Community Health and Evaluation, and University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute, is also available.


April 17, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Angie Tagtow on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: The Role of Science, People, & Politics

Angie Tagtow is a strategic advisor with more than 25 years of experience working at local, state, federal, and international levels in agriculture, food and nutrition policy; public health; and food and water systems. In 2014, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the Executive Director for the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, where she co-led the development and launch of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Tagtow will talk about the process of developing the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) as well as proposed cuts to the federal nutrition education and food and nutrition programs, touching on the nutrition and health status of the U.S. population, the background of the DGAs, the anticipated process of developing the 2020-2025 DGAs and opportunities for engagement and action.


April 15, 2018

Researchers respond to USA Today article author

Researchers involved in prominent college student food insecurity studies around the country responded to an April 11 article in USA Today by James Bovard entitled “Starvation issues in universities? The real college problem is obesity.” The researchers, including Nutrition Policy Institute’s Suzanna Martinez, pointed out Bovard’s errors of fact and lack of compassion for students who have limited financial resources and/or support from their families. The researchers’ comments were published in an April 15 letter to the editor in USA Today. In addition to Martinez, the other researchers who signed the letter are Nick Freudenberg of City University of New York School of Public Health, Sara Goldrick-Rab of Temple University and Aydin Nazmi of California Polytechnic State University.


April 10, 2018

Lauren Au highlights nutrition research in American Society for Nutrition's Farm Bill webinar

Nutrition Policy Institute Assistant Researcher Lauren Au PhD, RD, will speak about nutrition research as part of the American Society for Nutrition’s “The Farm Bill and Beyond: Advocating for Nutrition and Research” webinar. The webinar aims to inform ASN members about the 2018 Farm Bill and its impact on nutrition-related work and research. With drastic cuts proposed for many nutrition research funding agencies, federal support for nutrition research funding, federal nutrition programs and nutrition-related public health initiatives is more important now than ever before. The webinar will provide an overview of the Farm Bill, explore the nutrition-related elements of the Farm Bill, and review the overall importance and impact of advocacy for nutrition and research, as well as provide insight to best practices and approaches to overcome challenges. Au also recently co-authored The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill.


April 5, 2018

NPI Brown Bag: Ruben Canedo on University of California Basic Needs: Impact, updates and future directions

Ruben Canedo, University of California System Basic Needs Co-Chair, will provide an update on the latest systemwide basic needs data, the impact of system and campus efforts and the next phase of these efforts. Canedo is an alumnus of UC Berkeley and a co-founder of the Undocumented Student Program at UC Berkeley. He serves as Director of Strategic Equity Initiatives for UC Berkeley's Division of Equity & Inclusion. This role allows him to serve as both UC Berkeley's Basic Needs Committee Chair (since 2013) and UC System Basic Needs Committee Co-Chair (since 2014). Ruben is also part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's "Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT)," a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. TRHT seeks to unearth and jettison the deeply held, and often unconscious, beliefs created by racism—the main one being the belief in a “hierarchy of human value.”


April 4, 2018

Lorrene Ritchie speaks at UCLA policy seminar on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The UCLA MCH Nutrition Leadership Training Program hosts a policy seminar on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) during National Public Health Week featuring Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie PhD, RD and former Executive Director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion Angie Tagtow MS, RD. According to the USDA, the 2020-2025 edition of the DGA will take a lifespan approach and include new nutrition guidance for pregnant women, infants, and toddlers up to 2 years of age, and those old than 65 years. Ritchie and Tagtow will highlight the process for developing the Dietary Guidelines; the role science plays in informing the Dietary Guidelines; actors and stakeholders engaged in the development process; and strategies we need to take to preserve and protect a significant investment in Americans’ health. In addition, the latest research on best feeding practices for infants and toddlers will be presented, including results from the WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study.


April 3, 2018

Global Food Institute Fellow Sonya Zhu presents results of capstone project

Sonya Zhu is a Master of Public Health-Master of Public Policy (MPH-MPP) candidate at UC Berkeley and a UC ANR Global Food Initiative (GFI) Student Fellow, based at the Nutrition Policy Institute. She will present the results of her GFI/MPH Maternal & Child Health capstone project. Using data from the Healthy Communities Study (HCS), Zhu examined the association between household food insecurity and child adiposity, dietary intake and diet-related behaviors.


April 2, 2018

Lauren Au co-authors the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill

Nutrition Policy Institute Assistant Researcher Lauren Au is co-author on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill. The Academy's guiding principle for farm bill recommendations is a commitment to policies that improve health for everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable to food insecurity.  


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: