The Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) hosted an online Brown Bag event on Tuesday, June 30 from 12:00-1:00pm PDT titled "CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California - Programmatic Strategies, Adaptation to COVID-19, and Areas for Intentional Collaboration with NPI". CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California previously known as UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program is a SNAP-Ed program implemented by UC Cooperative Extension teams in 32 counties. The Brown Bag session highlighted programmatic strategies - including adaptation due to COVID-19 - with the goal of identifying potential areas of more intentional collaboration with NPI. Speakers included Kamaljeet Khaira, Barbara MkNelly, and MaryAnn Mills. The presentation slide deck is available online.
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NPI Brown Bag Event: CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California - Programmatic Strategies, Adaptation to COVID-19, and Areas for Intentional Collaboration with NPI
NPI researcher Janice Kao presents at the 2020 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference
The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) brings together California Community Colleges, California State University, University of California (UC) and representatives of private and independent colleges in California to share best practices in campus sustainability efforts. This conference focuses on the sharing of best practices and lessons learned from the people on the front lines of implementing sustainability efforts in California higher education. The conference will take place virtually for the first time ever this year, July 6-10, 2020. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researcher Janice Kao will present on Wednesday, July 8 from 9:15-10:30 a.m. PDT on 'Improving the Healthfulness and Sustainability of UC Vending Machines' in collaboration with UCSF Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute 2019 summer student research fellow Isa Harrison. Kao and Harrison will present on the UC Healthy Vending Policy, sharing results from a multi-campus evaluation of the policy.
New NPI study suggests vending machines in staff lounges are associated with sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by school staff
In their latest study, Nutrition Policy Institute researchers found that staff in schools with sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) vending machines in staff lounges were more likely to report consuming one or more SSBs per day compared to staff without SSB vending in staff lounges. Future research to examine the impact of extending SSB regulations to the entire school environment on school staff SSB consumption is an important next step. The study was published online on May 27, 2020 in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports. The study was lead by NPI researchers Suzanne Rauzon, Hallie Randel-Schreiber, and Hannah Thompson in collaboration with Elena Kuo from Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Center for Community Health and Evaluation, and Pamela Schwartz and Annie Reed from Kaiser Permanente. Read the full study online.
New NPI publication describes participants' experiences when the 2018-19 government shutdown disrupted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits
The federal government shutdown from December 22, 2018 – January 25, 2019 created an unprecedented disruption in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) in partnership with University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Advisors sought and received an Opportunity Grant from the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, to conduct a cross-sectional qualitative study to capture California SNAP participants' experiences during the benefit disruption. The study aim was to ascertain how the disruption affected participants' food security, health, and well being. Data were collected February and March 2019 in four focus groups with low-income adults in Los Angeles, Tuolumne, San Mateo, and San Francisco. The study was published in the journal Nutrients on June 23, 2020 by Wendi Gosliner, Ken Hecht, Elsa Esparza and Lorrene Ritchie from NPI in collaboration with Wei-Ting Chen from Stanford University (affiliated with UCCE at the time of the study), and Cathryn Johnson and Natalie Price from UCCE. Participants in the study reported that:
- SNAP benefits generally are too low for participants to afford an adequate, healthy diet. Despite much effort to manage limited food budgets, participants routinely run out of money for food.
- Eligibility determinations for SNAP feel overly restrictive, especially in high cost-of living areas, and the program is not adequately agile to respond in a timely way to frequent changes in participants' employment or other circumstances.
- Customer service and communications between SNAP offices and participants show room for improvement. The 2019 benefit disruption highlighted challenges in communications; few participants reported being informed about the disruption in a timely manner, if at all, and most reported confusion.
- Some participants described the 2019 benefit disruption as providing temporary relief from routine end-of-the-month scarcity; overall, the disruption caused a great deal of emotional stress, heightened food insecurity, and increased financial distress.
- The disruption resulted in many participants feeling more insecure about their SNAP benefits, and some losing faith in the government.
Participants recommended SNAP policy and program changes to:
- Improve benefit adequacy by increasing benefit levels.
- Modify eligibility and benefit formulas to better address high costs-of-living as well as the expenses associated with working (e.g., transportation, childcare).
- Improve customer service and communications.
- Prevent future disruptions.
Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are the largest single source of added sugars in the U.S. diet. Consumption of SSBs is a major contributing factor to excessive weight gain in young children and is linked to increased risk of dental decay, type-2 diabetes, metabolic dysfunction and heart disease later in life. For over 10 years, Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researchers have been working closely with child care stakeholders and advocates from the California Food Policy Advocates to improve the beverages served in licensed child care settings. The implementation of California's Healthy Beverages in Child Care Act (CA AB 2084) in 2012 was a major milestone for this long-term collaboration, which requires all licensed child care providers in California to serve only healthy beverages and serve no SSBs to children in their care. NPI's latest research brief shares results from state wide surveys conducted in 2012 and 2016 in collaboration with CFPA and the Sarah Samuels Center for Public Health Research & Evaluation that suggests only 45% of California child care providers are fully adherent to all four components of CA AB 2084:
- Serve only low-fat or non-fat milk to children aged 2 years or older.
- Limit juice to no more than one serving daily of 100% juice.
- Serve no beverages with added sweeteners, either natural or artificial.
- Make safe drinking water available and readily accessible throughout the day.
The research brief also shares how NPI researchers collaborated with the UCSF School of Nursing and the California Child Care Health Program, UC Cooperative Extension, and UC Merced to develop and evaluate a free, on-demand online training in English and Spanish to support child care providers to offer healthy beverages. The research brief is available online.
The Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) is excited to be working with five undergraduate and graduate student fellows over the summer of 2020. Celeste Felix and Caroline Long finished their first year in the University of California (UC), Berkeley School of Public Health, Master's in Public Health (MPH) Nutrition program and have joined NPI to complete their MPH summer internship requirement. They will be working with NPI researchers Wendi Gosliner, Ron Strochlic, and Marisa Tsai to evaluate two California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) programs including the California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP), California Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program, and a CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant funded pilot test of technological innovations to increase specialty crop consumption among CalFresh participants. Sophia Navarro is NPI's first Student Fellowship in honor of Dr. Pat Crawford. She will be working with NPI researchers Lorrene Ritchie and Marisa Tsai and Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics pediatrician and researcher Anisha Patel to analyze data collected from fourth grade students who have participated in the Water First Study to examine associations between milk type, calorie intake and body mass index. Anna Rios is a undergraduate student intern from UC Berkeley who will be joining NPI as part of the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) summer student research program. Rios will be working on an grant proposal to test the impact of milk type on toddler dietary intakes and weight. She will be working with Lorrene Ritchie, Marisa Tsai and Anisha Patel. Erin Esaryk is completing her Berkeley Food Institute fellowship at NPI and will be working with Lorrene Ritchie and UCSF researcher Suzanna Martinez to research food and housing insecurity among UC students.
Jun 15, 2020
Joanne Pakel Ikeda was a pioneer in the field of nutrition education for over 50 years. Joanne was a Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. She remained in that position until her retirement in 2006. Joanne loved her job, which included teaching, conducting nutrition education research and extending discoveries to the public, particularly to vulnerable populations. Joanne and colleagues in the Department of Nutritional Sciences established the Center for Weight and Health at UC Berkeley, which is now known as the Nutrition Policy Institute. The center, the first of its kind, facilitated interactions among researchers, policymakers, and community-based organizations to promote healthy weight and reduce food insecurity of children and their families. Joanne passed away on November 27, 2018. Her family, friends and colleagues will remember her always as a fearless leader who worked tirelessly to protect the nutritional health of the public, and in particular, the most vulnerable among us. Joanne's full In Memoriam is available online.
Nutrition Policy Institute researches present at the American Society for Nutrition's first-ever all-virtual conference
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Society for Nutrition will host Nutrition 2020, their annual conference, virtually for the first time ever. The conference will take place online on June 1-4, 2020, and is completely free for attendees, who can join from anywhere in the world. Two Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researchers will present their latest research as part of the virtual offerings. Marisa Tsai, NPI data analyst, will present two virtual abstracts titled 'Dimensions of School Food Environments and Their Association with Anthropometric and Dietary Outcomes in Children: The Healthy Communities Study' and 'Healthy Default Beverages in Kids' Meals: Evaluating Policy Adherence and Impact in California'. Hannah Thompson, NPI epidemiologist and an affiliated researcher with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, will present an abstract titled 'The impact of a district-wide chocolate milk removal policy on secondary students' milk purchasing and consumption'. Dr. Thompson's abstract will also have an on-demand virtual presentation available. There is no set time schedule for the virtual abstract presentations. The abstracts will be available through the meeting's online schedule planner and mobile app. Individuals interested in attending Nutrition 2020 can register for free online.
New study from Nutrition Policy Institute affiliated researchers shows higher retail prices for sugar sweetened beverages after excise taxesMay 28, 2020
Oakland and San Francisco, Calif. became the first large, western U.S. cities to pass excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) in November 2016 with the goal of reducing SSB consumption and raising revenues for public health education. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) affiliated researchers examined how much the excise taxes increased retail prices for SSBs in Oakland and San Francisco. In their latest study, they found that retail prices of SSBs significantly increased by approximately the amount of the excise taxes–1 cent per fluid ounce–within four to 10 months of implementation. The prices of beverages that were not taxed–water, milk, and 100% juice–were unaffected. The study was published online on May 21, 2020 in the American Journal of Public Health by lead author Jennifer Falbe with the University of California (UC), Davis Department of Human Ecology. The study was conducted in collaboration with Scott Kaplan of the UC Berkeley Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Alberto Ortega Hinijosa of IMPAQ International, Kristine Madsen of the Berkeley Food Institute and UC Berkeley School of Public health, and Matthew Lee and Nadia Rojas of UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
Nutrition Policy Institute study suggests that obesity prevention programs and policies should be implemented in multiple settings to be most effective
Nutrition Policy Institute's director and cooperative extension specialist Lorrene Ritchie and colleagues published a new study suggesting that efforts to prevent childhood obesity may be more effective when community programs and policies are both intensive and are implemented in multiple settings in which children live, learn, and play. This finding has important implications for practitioners, suggesting that to be effective communities need to plan a sufficient number of programs and policies of higher intensity (i.e. longer duration, fuller reach, and greater strength of strategies) among multiple settings where children can be exposed to these interventions. The study was published in Preventing Chronic Disease on May 7, 2020 by lead author Vicki Collie-Akers from the University of Kansas Medical Center along with co-authors Stephen Fawcett, Jerry Schultz, Kandace Fleming and Rebecca Swinburne Romine also from the University of Kansas, as well as Edward Frongillo from the University of South Carolina, and Sonia Arteaga from the National Institutes of Health. Study data were collected in 2013-2015 from 130 communities across the United States as part of the in the cross-sectional Healthy Communities Study, a six-year observational study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
New book ‘Bite Back: People Taking on Corporate Food and Winning’ features chapter written by NPI’s Wendi Gosliner and Kristine MadsenIndustrial diets—rich in processed, refined foods and beverages high in fat, salt and sugar and low in nutrient density—have proliferated in the U.S. and across the world. A new book titled Bite Back: People Taking on Corporate Food and Winning, edited by Saru Jayaraman and Kathryn De Master from the University of California, Berkeley, describes how the industrial diet and the systems supporting it emerged and how they retain dominance. The book features a chapter written by Wendi Gosliner, senior researcher and policy advisor at the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), in collaboration with Kristine Madsen, associate professor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute. Gosliner and Madsen describe how the food industry worked to exploit human biology and physiology by engineering hyper-palatable irresistible food and beverage products, flooding our physical and social environments with these products and cues to consume them, then using their profits to wield political power to reinforce the policies and systems that make these products less expensive and more convenient than healthier alternatives. The chapter also provides examples of how people can collaborate to counteract this dominance. The first edition book was released in May 2020 by University of California Press, and is recommended for college courses on food policy and food, environment & society.
Grantee experiences from the CDFA Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program captured in new NPI report
Wendi Gosliner, Senior Researcher and Policy Advisor at the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), with Marisa Tsai and Elsa Esparza, examined experiences among umbrella organization grantees of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program. The Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program provides energy-efficient refrigeration units for corner stores in low-income areas to stock California-grown fresh produce, nuts and minimally processed foods. Findings from the participants, who were primarily composed of organizations operating healthy retail programs, shed light on ways in which the program is working well, as well as opportunities for improvement. The full report is available online.
Nutrition Policy Institute study suggests that child care sites participating in CACFP offer more fruits and vegetables to infants
Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researchers' new study of 297 licensed California child care providers that care for infants suggests that those participating in the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) offered fruits and vegetables more often and sweetened yogurt less often to infants in their care compared to sites that did not participate in the CACFP. Additionally, more CACFP participants compared to those that did not participate in CACFP were in alignment with the current recommendations to not offer cow's milk to infants prior to their first birthday. However, the study also showed that CACFP participants were less likely to usually provide breastmilk to infants, suggesting the need for additional support and recommendations for CACFP participants on breastfeeding resources for providers and families. The study was conducted in 2016 prior to updates to the CACFP nutrition standards which went into effect in October 2017. Results from the study were published online ahead of print on April 29, 2020 in the Maternal and Child Health Journal. The state-wide child care study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Healthy Eating Research Program, and was conducted by NPI's Lorrene Ritchie, Danielle Lee, Klara Gurzo (currently with Stockholm University Department of Public Health Sciences), and Lilly Nhan (currently with University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health) in collaboration with Elyse Homel Vitale of the Child Care Food Program Roundtable (previously with California Food Policy Advocates) and Sallie Yoshida of Social Policy Research Associates (previously with Sarah Samuels Center for Public Health Research & Evaluation).
New flyers on the safety of eating produce and help buying fresh produce for those in need during COVID-19
In collaboration with the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine Center for Community Health and ideas42, the Nutrition Policy Institute's Wendi Gosliner and Ron Strochlic developed new flyers to help address concerns about produce safety during the coronavirus pandemic. The flyers also include information on what help is available to help people in need buy fresh produce, highlighting CalFresh, school meals, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), food distribution sites, senior meals, and the nutrition incentive program which allows low-income shoppers to match their food dollars on fruits and vegetables at participating farmer's markets. The flyers are available in both English and Spanish.
Nutrition Policy Institute researchers receive a grant to study the challenges faced by California families with young children on WIC due to COVID-19
Nutrition Policy Institute Director and Cooperative Extension Specialist Lorrene Ritchie received a $100,000 grant from The David & Lucile Packard Foundation to study the challenges faced by California families with young children that participate in the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is in collaboration with Shannon Whaley, director of research and evaluation at Public Health Foundation Enterprise-WIC. The project will identify barriers that WIC participants in California are experiencing in using WIC food benefits. It will also identify WIC families short-term unmet basic needs, such as food and housing insecurity, as well as access to unemployment benefits, health care, and childcare, while required to remain at home. The project will also identify how California WIC agencies are implementing federal waivers and other modifications to WIC services due to COVID-19 that can be later used to inform WIC. The 12-month project will begin on May 1, 2020 with NPI researcher Nicole Vital as the project manager.
New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collaborative study with NPI researchers identifies factors associated with the intake of drinking water among US high school students
Researchers at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, partnered with researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Stanford University, and Nutrition Policy Institute's Christina Hecht, investigated factors associated with the intake of drinking water among US high school students. Data on 10,698 students was obtained from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a nationally representative sample of US high school students. Because adolescents are the highest consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), and many drink little water, the study sought to understand the associations between plain water intake and youths' demographics, academic grades and other behavioral factors. The understandings gained may inform interventions to increase consumption of water in place of SSBs among US adolescents. Almost half (48.7%) of high school students reported little plain water consumption (only two or fewer times per day) and nearly one-quarter (24.6%) drank plain water less than once per day. Analysis using logistic regression found that factors most strongly associated with low plain water consumption were regular consumption of soda (≥1 time per day) and low consumption of vegetables (report was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion on March 18, 2020.
Nutrition Policy Institute submits comments to USDA in opposition of proposed rule to roll back nutrition standards for meals in child care and school
The Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) submitted on April 22, 2020 comments in strong opposition to the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) “Simplifying Meal Service and Monitoring Requirements in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs” proposed rule. The proposed rule would roll back nutrition standards in both the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. For nearly twenty years, researchers at the NPI and its predecessor organization have engaged in research and evaluation to improve nutrition policy in California and the nation, with special emphasis on the challenges for low-income children in accessing a healthy diet. "Today, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges have been greatly magnified," commented NPI Policy Director Ken Hecht. "The numbers of unemployed low-income families whose children need nutrition assistance has grown exponentially at the very time when schools, the operating site for most child nutrition programs, are closed. Fortunately, Congress and the USDA have acted quickly to expand and ease access to the essential food programs. Unfortunately, the proposed rules to which these comments are addressed seem largely counterproductive to children's health and well being and unresponsive to the pandemic."
Nutrition Policy Institute and UC Berkeley researchers receive grant to study impact of COVID-19 mitigation measures on economically disadvantaged Californians
Nutrition Policy Institute Senior Researcher and Policy Advisor Wendi Gosliner along with her colleagues Professor Lia Fernald at the University of California (UC), Berkeley School of Public Health and Dr. Rtia Hamad of UC San Francisco received a $10,000 grant from the Berkeley Population Center to conduct a study entitled, “EffectsofCOVID-19 Mitigation Strategies on Economically Disadvantaged Children and Families in California." They will be interviewing 30 families with young children in Alameda, Merced, and LosAngeles counties to capture the impacts of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mitigation strategies -- shelter-in-place orders and school closures -- as well as safety net responses -- increased CalFresh benefits for some and changes in school meals -- on families' well being and food security. The study aims to capture knowledge, perceptions, and utilization of various supports during the crisis and ways in which current and future policy response measures could better meet families' needs.
Nutrition Policy Institute's Christina Hecht is keynote speaker at CSU Northridge Public Policy Day on April 20
Christina Hecht, senior policy advisor for the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute, was the keynote speaker at the California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Food and Nutrition Public Policy Day. The all-day event was hosted online on Monday, April 2020 by the CSUN Marilyn Magaram Center for Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics. The theme was 'Legislation for All', and attendees learned from a variety of experts about the critical food and nutrition issues affecting California communities as well as how to make an impact through advocacy and public policy.
Nutrition Policy Institute researcher Lauren Au receives 2020 Tufts University Friedman Rising Star Award
Nutrition Policy Institute associate researcher, Lauren Au, is the honored recipient of the 2020 Tufts University Friedman Rising Star Award for making significant contributions to the nutrition field and demonstrating a continued commitment to effect change. Lauren is described as “an exceptionally capable researcher, mentor, and colleague, who has consistently demonstrated her commitment to the pursuit of a research career”. Lauren graduated with her PhD in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from Tufts in 2013.