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  • New review by NPI researchers on how to improve drinking water safety, access and consumption in the US

    Plain water is recommended to replace sugar-sweetened beverages to support health, yet concerns about tap water safety and barriers to access present challenges to making water the beverage of choice. In a new article, Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researchers and collaborators review evidence through a socioecological lens – considering the complex web of individual, relationship, community, and societal factors that influence water consumption. The paper reviews intake of drinking water in the US compared to requirements across age and racial/ethnic groups showing that most people do not drink enough plain water. It describes US regulations that support safe drinking water as well as strategies to reduce drinking water exposure to lead. Programs, policies, and environmental interventions that support access to safe and appealing drinking water, which is necessary to improve water intake, are also discussed, concluding with recommendations for research, policies, regulations, and practices needed to ensure optimal water intake by all. The review was published online in September 2020 by the journal Annual Review of Nutrition. Authors include Anisha Patel of Stanford Medicine Division of General Pediatrics, NPI researchers Christina Hecht and Lorrene Ritchie, Angie Cradock of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Marc Edwards of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


  • New study by NPI researchers finds that removing sweetened chocolate milk from school lunch reduces students' added sugar intake from milk, but does not reduce intake of calcium, protein or Vitamin D

    Sep 21, 2020

    Schools across the nation are instituting new policies to remove chocolate milk from their meal programs in an effort to reduce students' added sugar intake. These efforts have some stakeholders concerned that this policy may lead to a decrease in students' milk consumption--specifically the essential nutrients that milk provides such as calcium, protein and vitamin D--and may also lead to an increase in milk waste. However, the latest study from the Nutrition Policy Institute shows promising results that may alleviate these concerns. The study found that although the number of students that selected milk during lunch dropped by about 14% in the year the chocolate milk removal policy was implemented, there was no significant difference in the proportion of milk wasted before and after policy implementation. Further, although milk consumption declined by about 1 ounce per student post policy implementation, there was no significant decrease in the average amount of calcium, protein, or vitamin D consumed from milk. Finally, the chocolate milk removal policy did result in a significant reduction in added sugar consumption from milk, by an average of 3.1 grams per student. These results suggest that a school meal chocolate milk removal policy may reduce middle and high school students' added sugar intake without compromising intake of essential nutrients nor increasing milk waste. The study was conducted by NPI affiliated researchers Hannah Thompson and Esther Park from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health in collaboration with NPI researchers Lorrene Ritchie and Wendi Gosliner, and Kristine Madsen from the Berkeley Food Institute and UC Berkeley School of Public Health. The study was published online on August 27, 2020 in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease. The full study is available online.


  • USDA releases new report co-authored by NPI researchers showing that consistent 4-year participation in WIC is associated with better diet quality among low-income children

    Sep 14, 2020

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2 (ITFPS-2) captures data on caregivers and their children over the first 6 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, also known as the 'Feeding My Baby' study, previously produced four reports, the Intentions to Breastfeed ReportInfant Year Report, Second Year Report, and Third Year Report. The latest Fourth Year Report, which focuses on findings from children's fourth year of life, shows that consistent 4-year participation in WIC is associated with a higher quality diet among 4-year-old children. It also finds that caregivers who participate in WIC until their child is 4 years old truly value the education and support they receive through the program. In fact, the top reported reasons for continued participation are the education received from WIC (94 percent), the WIC food package (93 percent), and the perception that WIC personnel listen when participants talk about their child's health (91 percent). Findings from this new report also demonstrate how WIC nutrition education improves families' eating behaviors. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) director Lorrene Ritchie and NPI affiliated researcher Lauren Au from the University of California, Davis are co-authors of the new report. The study was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and conducted in collaboration with researchers from Westat including Christine Borger, Thea Zimmerman, Tracy Vericker, Jill DeMatteis, and Laurie May, as well as Shannon Whaley from Public Health Foundation Enterprise (PHFE) WIC and Linnea Sallack from Altarum Institute. The full Fourth Year Report, along with a brief summary of the study's findings, is available online.


  • Lorrene Ritchie presents new research on the impact of COVID-19 on California WIC participants

    Aug 28, 2020

    Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) director and cooperative extension specialist Lorrene Ritchie presented new information on the challenges faced by California families with young children that participate in the USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The presentation, titled "WIC Participation: Why do Families Stay and What has Changed During COVID-19?" was part of the California WIC Association and California WIC program's annual conference and trade show, which was held virtually on Friday August 28, 2020. Ritchie co-presented with collaborators Susan Sabatier at the California Department of Public Health and Shannon Whaley at the Public Health Foundation Enterprise (PHFE) WIC. They shared data from three studies: a state wide survey of WIC participants completed in 2019 prior to the pandemic as well as preliminary data from interviews and surveys with WIC families in Los Angeles County being completed this year. Funding for NPI's work was provided by The David & Lucille Packard Foundation and the California Department of Public Health.


  • Webinar recording: Redefining Basic Needs and Assessing Housing Insecurity in Higher Education

    Aug 27, 2020

    Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) and affiliated researchers recently conducted research across the University of California (UC) to develop new survey questions to assess student homeless and housing insecurity. They presented their findings during a free webinar, "Redefining Basic Needs and Assessing Housing Insecurity in Higher Education" on August 13, 2020. The webinar was featured NPI affiliated researcher Suzanna Martinez of UC San Francisco and the research team, Erin Esaryk and Eli Jimenez. Martinez shared the newly developed questions for the assessment of homelessness and housing insecurity, provided a student-informed definition of basic needs, and shared UC student experiences of housing and food insecurity from multiple campuses. These findings provide a comprehensive student definition of basic needs to inform research, programs, and policy to address housing and food insecurity in higher education. Findings were discussed in a question and answer session with student leader, Gwen Chodur, of the UC Graduate & Professional Council. The event was co-hosted by Ruben Canedo from UC Berkeley and Tim Galarneau from UC Santa Cruz, co-chairs of the UC Basic Needs Systemwide Effort. The webinar recording is available online. This research project was funded by the UC Global Food Initiative and the full research report and survey questions are available for download online


  • Lorrene Ritchie publishes invited commentary on why school meals matter now more than ever

    Aug 26, 2020

    Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) director and cooperative extension specialist Lorrene Ritchie commented on why school meals matter now more than ever as the United States is grappling with two major public health crises, the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism and inequities. The invited commentary was published online on August 20, 2020 in the journal Public Health Nutrition. Ritchie's commentary describes how the USDA National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which provided over 4.8 billion lunches to nearly 30 million children in the US during the 2018-2019 school year, supports improved food security for all students. This is important as students from lower income non-Hispanic Black or Hispanic families who have higher rates of participation in the NSLP than their non-minority counterparts. Given the historic levels of food insecurity Americans are now facing due to the COVID-19-related economic downturn, and the disproportionate effect it is having on black families, Ritchie also cites the importance of the NSLP in supporting health equity through improved nutrition. Ritchie shares evidence from a recent nationally representative study conducted by colleagues at Boston University School of Medicine which shows that NSLP participating students' diet quality improved after the school meal nutrition standards were updated in 2012-2013 to align with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010. Ritchie closes her commentary requesting public health researchers, practitioners and policy makers (1) object to any rollbacks to the HHFKA nutrition standards, and (2) advocate for school meals to be made available to all students without additional charge. The commentary is available online.


  • NPI researchers develop survey questions to assess University of California students' basic needs and housing security

    Aug 26, 2020

    The University of California (UC) has focused on student food security since the inception of the UC Global Food Initiative (GFI) in 2014 and has been instrumental in shaping the state and national conversation around students' basic needs challenges. In 2018, as part of a GFI funded project, UC commissioned Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) affiliated researcher Suzanna Martinez at the UC San Francisco and NPI's director Lorrene Ritchie and graduate student researchers Laurel Moffat and Erin Esaryk to conduct a study titled “Defining Student Basic Needs in Higher Education: An Exploratory Study on Housing and Food Insecurity Among University of California Students.” The study explored the issue of student housing insecurity across the UC campus communities and developed, vetted and validated housing-related questions to accurately measure housing security. The study included a racially diverse group of 58 undergraduate and graduate students--of which 98% reported experiencing food insecurity in the last year and 24% reported that they had experienced homelessness since attending UC--from UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz. The students participated in cognitive interviews on housing-related survey questions and focus groups on the concept of basic needs and housing. The final survey contains four modules that assess a variety of living circumstances: students' current and past living situations (17 items), housing insecurity and challenges students encountered around housing (21 items), overcrowding issues (6 items), and food insecurity timing and issues regarding basic needs security (21 items). The full study, including the final survey questions, was released on August 13, 2020, and is available for download online.


  • Lorrene Ritchie and Gail Woodward-Lopez quoted in Morning Ag Clips article on healthy default beverage policies for restaurant kids' meals

    Aug 25, 2020

    Lorrene Ritchie, director and cooperative extension specialist, and Gail Woodward-Lopez, director of research at the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) were quoted in an August 25, 2020 article in Morning Ag Clips titled "New policies can help provide healthy beverages to children." The article highlights California's Healthy Default Beverage law, California State Senate Bill 1192, which requires that all restaurants in California as of January 6, 2019 offer only healthy beverages -- plain water or unflavored milk -- as the default beverage with kids' meals. The article also highlights research findings from NPI researchers in collaboration with University of Delaware on the impact of the law in California and a similar law in Wilmington, Del. Dr. Ritchie is quoted, "Parents look at menu boards and kids look at menu boards, but it is likely that what the cashier says also influences which drink they choose. In our data collection, we would order a kids' meal and wait for them to offer a drink. But mostly they said, ‘What drink do you want?' instead of ‘Do you want water or milk with that?'”. Woodward-Lopez is quoted, “NPI in partnership with the California Department of Public Health is working with some local health departments to provide training and materials to help restaurants comply with the letter and spirit of the law. Our next step is to measure whether this health department support is effective. The role of default beverage policies in this context is important and not well understood.” Read the full article online


  • NPI's National Drinking Water Alliance and 97 other signatories submit comments to the USDA on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

    Aug 24, 2020

    The National Drinking Water Alliance, coordinated by the Nutrition Policy Institute, developed and submitted a recent comment in response to the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The comment, addressed to U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health & Human Services' officials responsible for translation of the science in the report into the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), focused on the attention that the next DGAs should give to drinking water in place of sugar-sweetened beverages. The comment had 97 signatories, including 23 organizations, as well as 74 researchers, health professionals and advocates, among them, Glenda Humiston, PhD, Vice President of the University of California (UC) Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and 25 UC scientists. The comment asks for clear, actionable advice in the 2020-2025 DGAs that will help encourage the American public to drink water in lieu of sugar-sweetened beverages. It urges USDA to add a symbol for water to the MyPlate graphic and other educational messaging. Read the full comment and see all the signatories here.


  • Fact sheet series provides critical information for school meal provision

    Aug 24, 2020

    Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) partnered with Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics to develop a series of fact sheets to support the provision of nutritious and sustainable school meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. NPI's Christina Hecht led development of the fact sheets that are targeted to school nutrition professionals, school boards, and advocacy organizations.  The fact sheets distill the latest on the USDA Child Nutrition Program waivers that have provided flexibility for school districts, allowing them to maximize their meal service despite COVID-19 disruptions including school closures and supply chain problems. Each fact sheet in the series addressed a specific challenge: how to continue meal service during “spring break,” provision of school meals over the summer, and the transition to “back to school” school re-opening scenarios. The fact sheets also provide tips and resources from the field, aiming to encourage school districts to take full advantage of the USDA flexibilities to maintain meal quality and build student participation in the meal programs. As one example, when providing “grab & go” meals while schools are closed, districts can aid families, keep meals fresh, and reduce waste by providing “bulk foods.” By using the waivers for non-congregate feeding and meal times, a district could provide a weekly sack of foods equivalent to the amounts and nutritional requirements normally provided by single meals.  Bulk food provision can reduce the use of pre-packaged one-portion items, for example substituting a fresh melon for individual fruit cups. It can also minimize the number of trips a family needs to make to pick up school meals and it can support use of fresh and local produce. Fact sheets were designed for California districts and for a national audience; the latter were co-branded by the School Nutrition Association (SNA) and provided to SNA's 53,000 members. Template versions make it easy to pull and co-brand the information to target specific regions. The fact sheets and modifiable templates are available for download at the links below. 

    "Back-to-School” Fact Sheet:

    • Back-to-School: We'll Keep Feeding Those Kids! UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute. Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics. School Nutrition Association. 12 August 2020. [Download (PDF)]

     

    “Summer Meals” Fact Sheets:

    • Calling all Districts! USDA Summer Meals Can Keep Kids Healthy (National version). UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute. Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics. School Nutrition Association. 20 June 2020. [Download (PDF)] [Download Template (Word document)]
    • Calling all Districts! USDA Summer Meals Can Keep Kids Healthy (California version). UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute. Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics. Updated 20 June 2020. [Download (PDF)] [Download Template (Word document)]

     

    "Spring Break” Fact Sheets:

    • Kids' Hunger Doesn't Take a Spring Break. While closed for COVID-19, school districts can serve meals over spring break (National version). UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute. Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics. 2 April 2020. [Download (PDF)] [Download Template (Word document)]
    • Kids' Hunger Doesn't Take a Spring Break. While closed for COVID-19, California districts can serve meals over spring break. UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute. Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics. 1 April 2020. [Download (PDF)] [Download Template (Word document)]

  • New NPI research brief on the implementation of healthy default beverage policies for restaurant kids' meals

    Aug 20, 2020

    At fast food and sit-down restaurants across California, kids' meals come with water or milk automatically. At least, that should be the case since state law requires restaurants to offer the healthy beverages by default to reduce the amount of sugary beverages served to children. California Senate Bill 1192, authored by Sen. Bill Monning (D-San Luis Obispo), went into effect in January 2019, but research by the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) has found that implementation has not been universal. The results, along with results from a similar study in Wilmington, Del., were published in an issue brief Aug. 20 on HealthyEatingResearch.org. Before the law, 10% of menu boards observed by the researchers in California list only the healthy beverages. Data collected after the law went into effect showed 66% of menu boards list the healthy default beverages. NPI researchers also collected data on the proportion of cashiers who verbally offered only healthy beverages with kids' meals when orders were placed. This happened only 5% of the time before the law was enacted, and dropped to 1% after. The law doesn't specify whether the cashier must offer the default beverages, but the spirit of the law suggests they should, as it would likely have a greater impact on the selections that children and parents make. In interviews with NPI researchers, most restaurant managers expressed support for the legislation, but didn't know much about it. The research brief was written by NPI researchers Lorrene Ritchie, Phoebe Harpainter, Marisa Tsai, Gail Woodward-Lopez and Wendi Gosliner in collaboration with lead author Allison Karpyn and Laura LessardJesse Atkins, Kathleen McCallops and Tara Tracy of the University of Delaware. The research was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and by the California Department of Public Health with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture. Read the full research brief online.


  • What made Berkeley’s sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax successful? A new study by NPI-affiliated researchers answers that question.

    Aug 14, 2020

    Berkeley, California made history by passing the nation's first sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax paid by beverage distributors in 2014, which garnered unanimous support from City Council and 76% of the vote in a public referendum. NPI-affiliated researchers Jennifer Falbe (lead author) and Kristine Madsen published a new article titled “Implementation of the First Sugar-Sweetened  Beverage Tax in Berkeley, CA 2015-2019” in the American Journal of Public Health. The article identifies policy and contextual characteristics that made the tax a success, shares recommendations for other cities, and highlights two critical findings. First, this tax on the beverage industry generated over $9 million that was invested into the community through public health and health equity programs. These programs aim to prevent the diseases caused by SSBs. Examples include the public school's Gardening and Cooking Program, a Head Start obesity prevention program, and Healthy Black Families' programs to reduce racial health inequities. The City's SSB tax advisory committee, which represents community and expert voices, was instrumental in making these investments, which are featured in short videos by The Praxis Project. Second, interviews with retailers indicated that beverage industry claims that SSB taxes amount to “grocery taxes” that raise food prices were false.

    The article was published online ahead of print on July 16, 2020. Authors include Jennifer Falbe, UC Davis Department of Human Ecology; Anna H. Grummon, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Nadia Rojas, UC Berkeley School of Public Health; Suzanne Ryan-Ibarra and Lynn D. Silver, Public Health Institute; and Kristine Madsen, UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Berkeley Food Institute. Read the complete article online.


  • New NPI study shows that the Community Eligibility Provision improves access to school breakfast and lunch in high-poverty schools

    Aug 5, 2020

    The National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs help reduce food insecurity and improve nutrition for school-aged children. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows schools with high levels of children in poverty to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost to all students. It was introduced through the bi-partisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to increase participation of low- to moderate-income students in the federal school meals programs. The CEP automatically reimburses schools for a fixed percentage of meals corresponding with their poverty level, making universal meals financially viable by reducing administrative costs and improving economies of scale in meal preparation and distribution. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researchers' latest study suggests that when high-poverty schools implement CEP, participation in the school breakfast and lunch programs for students who are near or above the cut-off for free or reduced priced meals increases. Data for the study came from the 2013-2014 Healthy Communities Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health. NPI researchers compared 842 kindergarten through eighth-grade students from 80 schools implementing CEP to 1,463 students from 118 schools without CEP. The study was published on August 4, 2020 in the Journal of School Health by lead author May Lynn Tann of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Evidence for Action program at the University of California (UC), San Francisco. Additional study authors include Barbara Laraia and Kristine Madsen of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Rucker Johnson of the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, and Lorrene Ritchie of the Nutrition Policy Institute. The study abstract is available online. For full access to the study, please email  may.lynn.tan@ucsf.edu.


  • New NPI study of voluntary kids’ meal healthy default beverage standards in California fast-food restaurants shows promising effects and room for improvement

    Aug 4, 2020

    A recent study by Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researchers assessed differences in quick-service, or fast-food, restaurants with and without voluntary healthy default beverage standards for kids' meals. ‘Voluntary standards' are restaurant commitments to offer healthier drinks with kids' meals. Researchers evaluated the beverages shown on kids' meal menu boards, beverages offered by cashiers with kids' meals, and kids meal beverages selected by customers in 111 quick-service restaurants--70 with voluntary standards and 41 without--in SNAP-Ed eligible neighborhoods in 11 California counties. Data was collected by menu board and cashier order observations and customer surveys in December 2018 prior to the January 2019 implementation of a new California law (SB-1192) that requires all restaurants offering a kids' meal make the default beverage offered water, unflavored milk or a nondairy milk alternative and that only these beverages be displayed on kids' meal menus or advertisements.

    Results from the study showed that significantly more quick-service restaurants with voluntary healthy default beverage standards for kids' meals offered unflavored milk or water on their menu boards compared to restaurants without voluntary standards. Customers at restaurants with voluntary standards reported purchasing healthier drinks and less soda compared with customers at restaurants without voluntary standards. These results suggest the voluntary healthy default beverage standards were effective at positively influencing restaurant practices and customer behavior. However, not all quick-service restaurants followed their own standards and much room for improvement remains. Additional intervention may be necessary to support full implementation of the standards and to maximize the impact on customer behavior and jurisdictions passing healthy default beverage laws for restaurant kids' meals may need to provide education and outreach alongside enforcement to ensure full implementation. The study was published online on July 22, 2020 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health by NPI researchers Phoebe Harpainter, Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Danielle Lee, Anna Martin, Wendi Gosliner, Lorrene Ritchie and Gail Woodward-Lopez. Read the full study online.


  • New report by NPI researchers describes schools' challenges, needs and priorities before reopening in Fall 2020

    Aug 3, 2020

    In May 2020, Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Suzanne Rauzon and Hallie Randel-Schreiber collaborated with Kaiser Permanente, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and other national school health partners to survey educators across the nation about overall readiness to return to learning for the upcoming school year. Their results are available in a new research report released in July 2020, which describes the anticipated school health challenges, needs and priorities for schools in Fall 2020. Using findings from a survey and interviews of school staff and school health experts, the report examines the health challenges that are anticipated and resources needed to promote the physical and social-emotional health of the school community. It also includes reflections on the unexpected benefits or “silver linings” of the extensive disruption, rapid adaptations and changes experienced in spring 2020. The full report is available online.


  • New study from Nutrition Policy Institute affiliated researchers shows sugar-sweetened beverage taxes have minimal or no impact on retailers, contrary to beverage industry claims

    Jul 27, 2020

    Retailer attitudes pertaining to excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are shared in a new study by Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) affiliated researchers Kristine Madsen and Jennifer Falbe. In response to evidence that SSBs increase the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, three California cities—Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco—have enacted excise taxes on distributors of SSBs. The beverage industry claims that SSB taxes are harmful to retailers and local economies, and that they lead to taxation of other food products, a so-called “grocery tax.” Madsen's team investigated these claims to see how they hold up..

    Researchers conducted interviews in 2018 and 2019 regarding the effect of SSB excise taxes on small and large grocers, corner and liquor stores, and various chain stores, as well as the attitudes of the retailers who sell such products. A random sample of 103 retailers in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco were selected for interviews from neighborhoods ranging from lowest to highest median household incomes. Study findings show, contrary to beverage industry messaging, that 70% of retailers in the three cities experienced minimal or no impact on their businesses as a result of tax. While a minority of retailers expressed reservations about the SSB tax, two-thirds held a favorable view of it. More than half of the retailers in the study said the tax should be enacted by more cities, or even rolled out statewide. Furthermore, no evidence emerged to support the beverage industry's claim that prices of non-SSB foods have been raised as a result of the tax, invalidating the “grocery tax” messaging. The study was published online on May 28, 2020 in Preventive Medicine Reports by lead authors Julian Ponce with the University of California (UC), Berkeley School of Public Health and Haoxuan Yuan with the UC San Francisco Center for Vulnerable Populations (CVP). The study was conducted in collaboration with Dean Schillinger and Ryane Daniels of the CVP; Hina Mahmood and Matthew Lee of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health; NPI affiliated researcher Jennifer Falbe of the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology; and senior author Kristine Madsen of the Berkeley Food Institute and UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

    Read the full article in Preventative Medicine Reports here.


  • NPI researcher Janice Kao presented at the 2020 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference

    Jul 13, 2020

    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 took place virtually for the first time ever this year, July 6-10, 2020. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researcher Janice Kao presented 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 presented on the UC Healthy Vending Policy, sharing results from a multi-campus evaluation of the policy. The presentation slides are available online


  • NPI Brown Bag Event: CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California - Programmatic Strategies, Adaptation to COVID-19, and Areas for Intentional Collaboration with NPI

    Jul 2, 2020

    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


  • New NPI study suggests vending machines in staff lounges are associated with sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by school staff

    Jun 29, 2020

    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

    Jun 25, 2020

    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:

    1. Improve benefit adequacy by increasing benefit levels.
    2. Modify eligibility and benefit formulas to better address high costs-of-living as well as the expenses associated with working (e.g., transportation, childcare).
    3. Improve customer service and communications.
    4. Prevent future disruptions.

    Read more in the research brief and the study


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