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  • New University of California and Stanford study reveals lack in California school district wellness policies

    Jul 12, 2021

    University of California researchers from multiple locations–Berkeley, Irvine, San Francisco, and the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI)–collaborated with researchers at Stanford University to investigate language concerning drinking water in school district wellness policies in a random sample of 240 California public schools. The U.S. Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires potable water to be made available at no charge to students in school cafeterias, and also requires school wellness policies that support nutrition standards. Because the strength and comprehensiveness of wellness policy are shown to be key to policy implementation, the research team aimed to learn what type of language was in use and whether that language related to actual school drinking water provision. Researchers found that the strength–scored on a scale of zero to 100–of water language in school wellness policies scored low, 11, while comprehensiveness scored 29. The findings, published online in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, present scores for about two dozen descriptors of water access. School wellness policy language scored highest for descriptors with an associated codified law–for example, the mandate for water access in the cafeteria–and lowest for descriptors of staff and student behaviors that foster water consumption–for example, allowing students to carry refillable water bottles, or requiring staff to drink healthy beverages when in front of students. Researchers found the strength and comprehensiveness of wellness policy water language to be negatively associated with actual school drinking water practices. However, this analysis was limited by the narrow range of the strength and comprehensiveness scores, making it hard to draw conclusions about this association. Steps to improve the usefulness of drinking water school wellness policies moving forward include stronger language concerning drinking water in model policy, such as the California School Boards Association model wellness policy language–used by 86% of study schools–and other supports for wellness policy implementation, including identifying a school “champion,” which was shown to be effective in a previous study conducted by researchers at NPI and Stanford. The school wellness policy study was conducted by Priyanka Sharma of UC Irvine, Gala Moreno and Anisha Patel of Stanford University and UC San Francisco, Emily Altman of UC Berkeley, Karla Hampton, JD, and Christina Hecht of NPI. The study was funded by a grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research.

  • Nutrition Policy Institute welcomes Celeste Felix

    Jul 12, 2021

    The University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) welcomed Celeste Felix to the team on July 11, 2021 as a Project Policy Analyst. Celeste recently graduated from UC Berkeley with an MPH in Nutrition. She started with NPI as a summer intern in 2020. Through her experience, she developed valuable skills and deepened her passion for reducing health disparities and food insecurity in overlooked communities. In her new role, Celeste will work on several projects to improve the nutrition of children through changes in food retail, school, and childcare settings.

  • New NPI study suggests online training for child care providers improves knowledge and awareness of California's Healthy Beverages in Child Care policy

    Jun 21, 2021

    California's 2010 Healthy Beverages in Child Care Act (AB2084) specifies that only unflavored low-fat milk or nonfat milk be served to children aged 2 years or older, allows no more than 1 daily serving of 100% juice, prohibits beverages with added sweeteners, and requires that safe drinking water be readily accessible throughout the day in all licensed California (CA) child care centers and family child care homes. A state-wide survey of CA child care providers conducted in 2016 by the University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) suggested that less than half (45%) of providers fully adhered to the beverage policy. Researchers at NPI partnered with the UCSF School of Nursing, California Childcare Health Program and UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) Cooperative Extension (CE), with support from a UC ANR grant, to develop a brief online training in English and Spanish for providers to increase adherence with the policy. Researchers evaluated the online training, 'Healthy Beverages in Early Care and Education', combined with six months of ongoing technical assistance from CE nutrition educators. The study enrolled 65 licensed child care providers in California. Results suggest that the online training can improve providers' awareness of the policy and knowledge of healthy beverage practices; however, it may not improve providers' adherence to the policy. Further, it suggests that additional technical assistance from CE nutrition educators beyond 6-months may be required to further increase awareness, knowledge, and policy adherence. Results from the study were published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior on June 1, 2021. The study was conducted by NPI researchers Danielle Lee, Kaela Plank, Hannah Thompson, Christina Hecht and Lorrene Ritchie in collaboration with Marisa Neelon from UC ANR, Karina Díaz Rios from UC Merced, and Abbey Alkon from the UCSF School of Nursing. The training is available online for free in English and Spanish for California child care providers, and for $15 for providers located outside of California.

  • NPI researchers present on WIC participant experiences during COVID-19 at the National WIC Association annual meeting

    Jun 18, 2021

    The federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support to low-income women, infants and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unexpected and unprecedented changes to WIC service delivery in order to protect the health and well-being of staff and participants. Researchers at the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) presented two talks at the National WIC Association 2021 virtual annual conference, held online June 15-17, 2021. The first shared results of quantitative and qualitative data collected during the pandemic from WIC participants and WIC local agency directors in California. Results from this study highlight the significant success of the California WIC program in reaching participants and meeting their needs during the COVID crisis and suggest multiple strategies useful for continued program improvements throughout the nation. The second talk shared results from a survey of nearly 50,000 WIC participants in 11 states and 1 Indian Tribal Organization. Researchers shared WIC participant perspectives of what worked well and what was challenging about enrollment, nutrition education, shopping for WIC foods, and use of the WIC card and app(s). The survey also collected suggestions from participants on how they would like to receive WIC services once when it is safe to return in-person to WIC clinics, and how their physical, mental and financial well-being and food insecurity changed during the pandemic. Researchers involved in the studies included NPI's Lorrene Ritchie and Danielle Lee, Georgia Machell of the National WIC Association, private consultant Linnea Sallack, and Shannon Whaley of the Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC. The projects were funded by grants from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation; the California study was also funded by the California Department of Public Health.

  • California WIC participants and agency directors agree that COVID flexibilities be retained as program options going forward

    Jun 17, 2021

    Rich with quotes from California WIC participants and local agency directors, two new reports and a policy brief highlight the strong consensus that the waivers USDA put in place and the other modifications the state implemented to make WIC responsive to COVID should be incorporated as permanent options in the program. In light of Congress's imminent program reauthorization, these recommendations informed by research conducted by Public Health Foundation Enterprises (PHFE)-WIC and the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), part of the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), take on special significance. Researchers collected information on the experiences with WIC during COVID from interviews with 182 WIC participants, 22 interviews with local WIC agency directors and refinement of interpretation from a meeting with 12 WIC agency directors, and finally, recommendations from multiple perspectives shared at a convening of over 20 local, state, and national WIC participants, experts and leaders. The research team included Lorrene Ritchie, Christina Hecht, Nicole Vital, Ron Strochlic, Marisa Tsai, Claudia Olague, Anna Rios, and Ken Hecht from NPI, Lauren Au from UC Davis Department of Nutrition, and Christopher Anderson, Catherine Martinez, Martha Meza and Shannon Whaley from PHFE-WIC. The project was funded by a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation with additional funding from the California Department of Public Health WIC Branch

  • NPI researchers present on critical role of WIC during COVID-19 pandemic at the American Society for Nutrition's annual conference, Nutrition 2021

    Jun 11, 2021

    The federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support for low-income women, infants and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unexpected and unprecedented changes to WIC service delivery in order to protect the health and well-being of participants and staff. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researchers shared experiences of California WIC families during the COVID-19 pandemic at the American Society for Nutrition's annual conference, Nutrition 2021 Live Online, held virtually June 7-10, 2021. The presentation, titled "WIC is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons learned from Los Angeles County participants", shared results of data collected from WIC participants and local WIC agency directors in California. Results highlight the significant success of the California WIC program in reaching participants and meeting their needs during the COVID crisis and suggest multiple strategies useful for continued program improvements throughout the nation. NPI's Lorrene RitchieNicole Vital, and Marisa Tsai, presented at the conference in collaboration with Lauren Au of the University of California (UC), Davis Department of Nutrition, and Shannon Whaley, Chris Anderson, Martha Meza, and Catherine Martinez of Public Health Foundation Enterprises, WIC. The project was funded by a grant from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

  • New policy brief shows that participation in WIC is linked to higher diet quality in children

    Jun 3, 2021

    More than half of infants in the US participate in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. WIC provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk. In a recent study, researchers examined the association between the duration of WIC participation and the diet quality of 24-month-old children. They found that children who received WIC benefits during most of the first two years of life had better diet quality at age 24 months than children who, despite remaining eligible for benefits, discontinued WIC during infancy. These findings suggest nutritional benefits for eligible children who stay in the program longer and highlight the importance of helping them to do so. The study results have been compiled into a policy brief by the University of California (UC), Davis Center for Poverty & Inequality Research, and are available online. The research was conducted by Nancy Weinfield of the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Research Institute, Christine Borger of Westat, Lauren Au of UC Davis Department of Nutrition, Shannon Whaley of Public Health Foundation Enterprises WIC, Danielle Berman of the US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, and Lorrene Ritchie of the Nutrition Policy Institute within the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

  • New NPI resource provides information on safe reopening of building plumbing following pandemic closures

    May 14, 2021

    When buildings have had low or no water use – for example, during COVID-19 pandemic closures – it is important to restart building plumbing systems safely. UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) partnered with Purdue University Center for Plumbing Safety to produce an information sheet on how to safely reopen building plumbing following pandemic closures. Before sending water out, the public water utility undertakes a variety of treatments to ensure that tap water meets federal and state standards. These include corrosion control to prevent lead from flaking or leaching out of any lead-containing pipes, and disinfectants (usually chlorine) to inhibit microbial growth. However, these protections break down when water is not flowing, such as when taps are not in regular use. A simple but specialized flushing program is recommended to remove any stagnant water or bacterial buildup in the plumbing system. The information sheet briefly explains the problem and provides a list of resources targeted to the owners or operators of large buildings, particularly schools. A webinar, checklists for reopening plumbing, and downloadable flushing plans are among the resource links provided. The information sheet is available online.

  • Three new NPI policy briefs elevate San Joaquin Valley parent voices on importance of School Meals for All

    May 14, 2021

    Throughout the pandemic, the Nutrition Policy Institute policy team, Christina Hecht and Ken Hecht, have partnered with a Stanford University research team and two San Joaquin Valley community-based organizations to help improve access to school meals. The team's study included parent focus groups to capture parents' concerns and wishes regarding their children's school meals, and a parent PhotoVoice project to visually document school meals. Nearly all parent engagements were conducted in Spanish and study findings were reported to the community via a bilingual webinar and Radio Bilingüe. Recently introduced state (California SB 364) and federal (The Universal School Meals Program Act of 2021) legislation aim to provide free school meals for all enrolled children. Both bills include added funds for locally-sourced foods and the establishment of a “Summer EBT” program to provide low-income families with extra funds for food when schools – and school meal programs – are closed. Learn about the legislation and read parent viewpoints in Parent Voices: School Meals for AllParent Voices: Local Foods for School Meals, and Parent Voices: Summer EBT. This work was supported with funding from the American Heart Association Voices for Healthy Kids, The Center at Sierra Health Foundation and the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, Stanford Medical Scholars Program, Stanford Pediatric Resident Research Grant, and Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry. This work also received a United States Public Health Service 2021 Excellence in Public Health Award.

  • NPI researchers share the experiences of California WIC families during the COVID-19 pandemic at California WIC Association conference

    May 11, 2021

    The federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support for low-income women, infants and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk. The program reaches one out of every two infants born in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unexpected and unprecedented changes to WIC service delivery in order to protect the health and well-being of participants and staff. Nutrition Policy Institute researches shared experiences of California WIC families during the COVID-19 pandemic at the 2021 California WIC Association conference, held virtually May 3-7, 2021. The presentation shared results of data collected from WIC participants and local WIC agency directors in California. Results highlight the significant success of the California WIC program in reaching participants and meeting their needs during the COVID crisis, and suggest multiple strategies useful for continued program improvements throughout the nation. NPI's Lorrene Ritchie presented at the conference in collaboration with Shannon Whaley of Public Health Foundation Enterprises, WIC. The project was funded by a grant from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation

  • NPI researchers present on challenges and opportunities for SNAP-Ed programs during the COVID-19 pandemic at 2021 National Health Outreach Conference

    May 10, 2021

    USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) impacts the lives of participants through education as well as policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change initiatives at schools, early care and education facilities, food banks and pantries, and other community sites. SNAP-Ed, which focuses on individuals and families with low income and the communities in which they live, can improve health equity. However, SNAP-Ed interventions were dramatically impacted in 2020 by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers at the Nutrition Policy Institute presented relevant research findings at the 2021 National Health Outreach Conference, held virtually on May 3-7, 2021. Their presentation, entitled 'Challenges and Opportunities for SNAP-Ed Programs during the COVID-19 Pandemic', described the ways in which California's local health departments shifted their SNAP-Ed efforts,  barriers that COVID-19 created in their PSE work, and factors that facilitated new and continued efforts. Despite a 37% reduction in the number of SNAP-Ed sites reached in 2020 when compared to each of the previous two years, many successful PSE efforts were implemented by local health departments in 2020, including new interventions at numerous sites that were initiated in response to COVID-19. A common theme reported in relation to successful efforts was the importance of strong partnerships. NPI's Carolyn Rider presented these findings in collaboration with NPI researchers Janice KaoChristina BeckerEvan Talmage, and Gail Woodward-Lopez.

  • NPI research brief details steps to build effective access to drinking water

    Apr 27, 2021

    Drinking water is the healthy alternative to the sugary drinks that are a risk factor for many diet-related chronic diseases and tooth decay, and plain drinking water is also more environmentally friendly than packaged sugary drinks. Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researcher Christina Hecht, who coordinates the National Drinking Water Alliance, received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research program to develop a 'photo-evidence' tool to document the condition of drinking water access in schools and other community locations. This work was conducted in collaboration with the University of Washington School of Public Health and Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics. The tool, Assessing the Quality of Water Access (AQWA), is designed for use by community or citizen scientists and allows a documentary and quantitative survey of the elements that should be present to maximize water consumption. The AQWA toolkit is available online. Critical elements in drinking water access, dubbed ‘Effective Access to Drinking Water' were identified by researchers during the development of the AQWA tool. These include water dispenser cleanliness, condition and accessibility, adequate water flow, presence of cups, and educational or promotional messaging about drinking water and healthy hydration. A new research brief, entitled ‘Effective Access to Drinking Water in Schools: What is it and why does it matter?' provides a summary of the research on the importance of these elements as well as the evidence base on school drinking water access around the US. The research brief is available online. Contact Christina Hecht, at ceahecht@ucanr.edu, if your group might undertake a project using AQWA.

  • NPI policy brief calls for an added sugars standard for school meals

    Apr 26, 2021

    Congress is working on Child Nutrition Reauthorization, which has been delayed since 2015. The previous reauthorization resulted in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). Despite the delay, a recent study shows that school meals are the single overall healthiest source of eating in the U.S., suggesting children's nutrition has fared well under HHFKA. Limitation of added sugars in school meals was not incorporated into the HHFKA, due in large part to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) anticipating that maximum calorie levels in school meals would effectively curb amounts of added sugars. However, this was not effective as a recent study showed that most schools exceeded the guideline of 10% of total calories daily limit for added sugars at both breakfast (92%) and lunch (69%). In their latest policy brief, Nutrition Policy Institute researchers in collaboration with Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics, Cultiva La Salud, and the Dolores Huerta Foundation, share findings from a research project involving San Joaquin Valley parents of children who receive school meals during COVID-19 related school closures. Parent experiences of school meals were collected from focus groups and PhotoVoice documentation of one week's worth of school meals. Parents expressed concern about the freshness, nutritional quality, and amount of added sugars in the school meals. The brief, entitled ‘School Meals: Kids are Sweeter with Less Sugar' presents parent photographs together with parent quotes and a brief summary of the background. It concludes with the policy recommendation that Congress, through Child Nutrition Reauthorization, direct USDA to implement a standard for added sugars that aligns with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The brief is available online.

  • NPI researchers present at national 2021 Virtual Sugary Drink Summit

    Apr 26, 2021

    Researchers at the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) presented at the 2021 Virtual Sugary Drink Summit, hosted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, on April 20-22. The three-day event brought together public health experts and advocates to discuss national, state, and local policies that build community capacity for advocacy, improve health and health equity while reducing consumption of sugary drinks. Christina Hecht from NPI hosted a session on the importance of equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water. Marisa Tsai, an NPI researcher, presented a session titled, 'Evidence base for policy interventions to reduce SSB consumption', where she shared findings from NPI's recent studies on healthy default beverage policies for restaurant kids meals and a chocolate milk removal policy for school cafeterias. The summit culminated on Friday, April 23, when summit participants had an opportunity to participate in a virtual Hill day to visit their Congressional offices. Participants provided information on the evidence base and recommendations to improve nutrition and particularly to reduce consumption of added sugars, with a focus on upcoming legislation including Child Nutrition Reauthorization and the SWEET Act, that would impose a tiered national tax on sugary drinks.

  • UC Merced conference provides research findings on farmworker health and safety

    The University of California (UC) Merced Farmworker Health Research Conference brought together researchers from across the country, UC officials, local and state leaders, and community members on April 9 for a virtual conference on farmworker health. The conference is part of a study that started in May 2020 and runs through June 2022. Researchers aim to expand on findings from the 1999 California Agricultural Health Workers Survey, conducted by the California Institute for Rural Studies, and will focus on the long-term health of farmworkers. University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researcher Ron Strochlic will be contributing to the study by conducting interviews with growers and other stakeholders to identify ways to increase farmworkers' access to health care. Strochlic also served on the conference planning committee, in collaboration with the event chair, Edward Flores, co-director of the Community and Labor Center at UC Merced, and fellow committee members Ana Padilla, executive director of the Community and Labor Center, public health Professor Paul Brown and graduate student Nimrat Sandhu of UC Merced, Christy Getz, associate cooperative extension specialist of UC Berkeley, consultant Joel Diringer and legislative advocate Noe Paramo of California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. The conference was funded in support by the California Department of Public Health and the California Endowment. Conference presentations and discussions were uploaded to the Community and Labor Center's YouTube channel, where they will be available until June 9, 2021.

  • NPI researchers partner with California Health Departments to share COVID-19 pandemic successes

    Apr 22, 2021

    The COVID-19 pandemic had both positive and negative impacts on the implementation of the California Department of Public Health's CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL) activities over the past year. CFHL, known nationally as SNAP-Ed, supports healthy, active, and nourished lifestyles by teaching Californians about good nutrition and how to stretch their food dollars, while also building partnerships in communities to make the healthy choice, the easy choice. CFHL activities are implemented by California's Local Health Departments (LHDs) and other agencies. Researchers at the University of California (UC) Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) evaluated the impact of COVID-19 on CFHL efforts using data gathered in the Program Evaluation and Reporting System (PEARS), a tool used by CFHL professionals to track policy, systems, and environmental change efforts (often referred to as PSE), direct nutrition education, indirect education, partnerships, and multi-sector coalitions. In addition, NPI researchers surveyed 54 LHDs in October 2020 to understand more about how the pandemic impacted their programs. Evaluation results showed that LHDs found new ways to deliver CFHL interventions during COVID-19, building on existing capacity and branching out into new areas, including developing new sites and partners, developing new skills to implement programming virtually, and developing novel food procurement and distribution mechanisms. NPI researchers presented results from their evaluation in a March 23, 2021 webinar, titled Challenges and Opportunities for Local Health Departments Implementing CalFresh Healthy Living during a Pandemic, with over 50 state agency and LHD staff in attendance. The webinar was hosted by the NPI PEARS team, including Carolyn Rider, Janice Kao, Christina Becker, and Evan Talmage in collaboration with Jennifer Murphy and Kylie Gacad from California State University, Chico, Anna Luciano from Orange County Health Care Agency, and Jessica Bellow and Gaby Gregg, from Community Action Partnership of Orange County. The webinar slides and recording are available online.

  • New NPI study evaluates restaurant kids' meal beverage offerings before and after implementation of healthy default beverage policies in California and Wilmington, DE

    Apr 19, 2021

    Over 40% of US children ages 2-5 years consume sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), a concerning statistic given SSB are a leading contributor to child obesity. One-in-three children eat at quick-service restaurants on any given day and policies that require restaurant kids' meals to offer only healthy default beverages are one strategy to improve children's beverage intake. Researchers at the University of California (UC) Nutrition Policy Institute and the University of Delaware Center for Research in Education and Social Policy recently examined restaurant beverage offerings in 111 quick-service restaurants in California and 16 quick- and full-service restaurants in Wilmington, Delaware before and after restaurant healthy default beverage policies were implemented. California law, SB1192, requires that only water and unflavored milk or a non-dairy equivalent be offered with restaurant kids' meals. The Wilmington policy, ordinance no. 18-046, allows for flavored milk and unsweetened 100% juice or juice diluted with water in addition to the beverages allowed in California. Observations of restaurant menus showed improvement from 2019 to 2020 in beverages offered with kids' meals in California, but not in Wilmington, post-policy. However, during orders of kids' meals, only 1% of restaurant cashiers or servers offered the healthy default beverage in California and none in Wilmington after the policies went into effect. Less than one in four restaurant managers interviewed in California knew about the beverage policy, and none did so in Wilmington, despite most managers in both California and Wilmington expressing support for the policy. This study suggests the need for additional efforts to strengthen the implementation of kids' meal beverage policies. The study was published in the journal Public Health Nutrition by NPI researchers Lorrene Ritchie, Phoebe Harpainter, Marisa Tsai, Gail Woodward-Lopez and Wendi Gosliner in collaboration with Tara Tracy, Kathleen McCallops and Allison Karpyn from the University of Delaware and Isabel Thompson from UC Berkeley. The study was funded by the California Department of Public Health, with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – USDA SNAP, a grant to Duke University from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

  • New research brief on removing chocolate milk from school cafeterias' positive impact on student population nutrition

    Apr 15, 2021

    Sugar-sweetened beverages, including chocolate milk, are the leading source of added sugars in youths' diets. During the 2017-18 school year, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) implemented a policy removing chocolate milk from school lunches as part of a district-wide strategy to reduce students' intake of added sugars. A new research brief from the University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute (UC NPI) describes the impact of this policy on students' intake of milk and its associated nutrients. This impact was measured by UC researchers in a study of students' milk selection and consumption in 24 SFUSD middle and high schools during one lunch period at each school during each study year. The study included 3,158 students in 2016 before the policy and 2,966 students after the policy was implemented in 2018. Study results showed that after chocolate milk was removed, milk taking at lunch declined, but average per-student intake of key nutrients from milk did not. In addition, students' intake of added sugars from milk declined significantly. The study suggests that removing chocolate milk from school cafeterias may improve student nutrition. The research brief encourages schools to consider eliminating chocolate milk to help reduce students' added sugar intake. The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the UC NPI, UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Berkeley Food Institute, and SFUSD Student Nutrition Services. This work is supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant no. 2015-68001-23236 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The research brief is available online. The full research study is also available online.


  • New toolkit from Feeding America provides guidance on how to develop a food bank nutrition policy developed by NPI

    Mar 23, 2021

    Feeding America published a new resource, the Nutrition in Food Banking Toolkit, aimed to guide the charitable food sector to better meet the nutritional and cultural food needs of people they serve. The toolkit, released on March 23, 2021, was developed by Feeding America's Nutritious Food Revisioning Task Force, made up of more than a dozen food banks and national organization staff, with input and expertise from partnering organizations. This first edition of the Nutrition in Food Banking Toolkit is composed of three main sections, each focused on a different aspect of the charitable food system. Healthy Eating Research (HER) Nutrition Guidelines for the Charitable Food System provides recommendations to improve the quality of food in food banks and food pantries in order to increase access to healthier food for food-insecure households. Applying an Intercultural Competence Lens provides insights and recommendations for developing nutrition-related cultural competence at the organizational, partner, and individual levels. Role of Food Bank Nutrition Policies: A Guide to Action provides food banks with strategies to achieve nutrition policies that lead to a more nutritious food supply. The final section on food bank nutrition policies was developed by University of California (UC) Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researcher Karen Webb and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources advisor Laura Vollmer. This section was adapted from NPI's Guide to Drafting a Food Bank Nutrition Policy, which was created for the online course Developing a Food Bank Nutrition Policy. Toolkit partners include Healthy Eating Research (HER); the CDC's Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network; UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity; UC NPI; MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger; Partnership for a Healthier America; and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The toolkit is available online.

  • NPI researchers use factor analysis method to evaluate the effect of school nutrition environments on child health

    Mar 22, 2021

    Researchers at the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), University of California, Davis, and the University of South Carolina published a new study describing the use of factor analysis methods to evaluate the effectiveness of school nutrition environments on child health outcomes. Given the complexity of school food environments, factor analysis can be a useful method in identifying latent or unmeasured factors underlying observed environmental characteristics to determine which have the largest influence on child health outcomes. Researchers applied this method to data collected from the Healthy Communities Study which included 4,635 children in the US between the ages of four and 15 years from 386 elementary and middle schools in 2013–2015. Although the findings from the study were mixed, results suggest that restriction of unhealthy foods in school is associated with lower added sugar intake by children. The study was published online in March 2021 in The Journal of Nutrition. Co-authors include Marisa TsaiLorrene Ritchie, and Gail Woodward-Lopez from NPI, Lauren Au from the University of California, Davis, and Edward Frongillo from the University of South Carolina. The study was funded by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

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