Nutrition Policy Institute
Nutrition Policy Institute
Nutrition Policy Institute
University of California
Nutrition Policy Institute

2019 News Archives

December 5, 2019 

Lorrene Ritchie quoted in UDPI article on nutrition education in schools 

A recent UDPI article, CDC: Schools Aren't Doing Enough to Teach Kids About Nutrition, examining the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report on food and nutrition education in schools featured an interview with Nutrition Policy Institute Director, Lorrene Ritchie. Dr. Ritchie stated that "health education has never been a priority in American schools... so it's not shocking we're in dire straits when it comes to nutrition."



December 2, 2019

NPI submits letter to USDA to oppose proposed SNAP regulations on household heating and cooling expenses which could cause one of eight California participants to lose eligibility 

Recently proposed new rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), CalFresh in California, would cause nearly 26 percent of California SNAP participants to lose benefits while only 14 percent would gain benefits if enacted, as estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The proposed rule would standardize the methodology for calculating a household's heating and cooling expenses, also known as the standard utility allowance (SUAs), which is taken into consideration when determining program eligibility.

Nutrition Policy Institute's (NPI) director, Lorrene Ritchie, and director of policy, Ken Hecht, submitted a public comment to USDA in opposition of the proposed rule. In their comment, they state that most of California’s SNAP participants live in areas of the state experiencing notoriously high costs of living so their utility expenses are likely to be high. They also commented that the proposed rule would have negative impacts on California's economy, given the estimated $4.5 billion reduction in SNAP spending over five years.

Ritchie and Hecht voiced concern about low-income children participating in the school meal program as well. "The impact would be felt in school meal participation," commented Ritchie and Hecht, "as fewer students would be directly certified for free school meals and fewer schools and school districts would qualify for universal meals through the community eligibility provision." Public comments were due on or before December 2, 2019.



November 25, 2019

New NPI report captures participants' experiences when government shutdown caused disruption in 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 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 wellbeing. Data were collected February and March 2019 in four focus groups with low-income adults in Los Angeles, Tuolumne, San Mateo, and San Francisco.

Participants 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.

Participant recommendations for SNAP:

  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. Do not disrupt SNAP benefits in the future.

Read more in the research brief and full report.



November 21, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Building on low-income consumer perspectives and practices to inform healthy retail interventions

Sridharshi Hewawitharana, data analyst with the Nutrition Policy Institute, presented findings from three projects funded by the California Department of Public Health, Nutrition Education & Obesity Prevention Branch (NEOP) projects: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participant Voices; Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Prevention (CX3); and a healthy retail literature review. She outlined the barriers low-income consumers face to healthful eating, the strategies they use to address those barriers, and the evidence regarding healthy retail interventions. View the presentation and read the slides.



Thursday, November 14, 2019

New study suggests installing drinking water stations at community sites may increase water consumption by rural California communities with unsafe drinking water

Community sites in Kern County, Calif. received new, public drinking water bottle filling stations in one of the first studies to look at how promoting and increasing access to safe drinking water in non-school settings in communities with non-potable drinking water impacts community-level water consumption. Christina Hecht, PhD, of the National Drinking Water Alliance coordinated by the Nutrition Policy Institute, was co-investigator on the study. Results from the study were published on November 14, 2019 in Preventing Chronic Disease. Researchers found that, compared to sites with traditional drinking fountains, community members at sites with the new water filling stations drank more water. This increase in water consumption was higher in sites that received a $500 stipend, a toolkit of promotional activities, and technical assistance to promote the new water filling stations. Promotional activities varied by site and included purchasing cups to have on site or reusable water bottles to give away, displaying banners and posters about the health benefits of drinking water, distributing stickers promoting drinking of water, and more. 



November 3-7, 2019

Lorrene Ritchie presents cutting edge research on the effectiveness of community-level policies for improving childhood obesity outcomes

Global experts on obesity gather in Las Vegas, NV Nov. 3-7, 2019 for Obesity Week 2019, the leading, international scientific conference on obesity presented by The Obesity Society (TOS) in partnership with the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). Lorrene Ritchie, director of the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), will present the latest research on the effectiveness of community programs and policies on reducing childhood obesity outcomes in the workshop, "It's a Disparate Day in the Neighborhood - Cutting Edge Neighborhood Research With an Equity Lens" on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 8:30-10:00 a.m. In addition, Christina Hecht from NPI will be presenting on "Making Sure Water is a Safe Alternative to SSBs – Improving Water Consumption in Early Care and Education, School and Homes" from 1:30-3:00 p.m.



November 2-7, 2019

Several NPI studies presented at largest annual gathering of public health professionals

Researchers from the University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) will share the latest findings on California's newest healthy default beverage policy for restaurant kids mealscommunity eligibility provision in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, and how mobile produce stands can improve healthy food access at APHA 2019. APHA's Annual Meeting and Expo is the largest and most influential annual gathering of public health professionals with nearly 13,000 attendees joining each year. Gail Woodward-Lopez, associate director of research, will be releasing a new, comprehensive tool for self-assessing eating and actives practices in settings where children learn. Wendi Gosliner will also be presenting "Policy and Politics in the USDA Child Nutrition Programs".



November 1, 2019

Zero to 60 challenge: Can you go 30 days without drinking a sugary beverage? 

Soda is the number one source of added sugar in the American diet and more than 30 percent of all calories from added sugars consumed daily come from sweetened beverages. Think you can go 30 days without drinking a sugary beverage? The National Drinking Water Alliance, coordinated by the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute, encourages you to challenge yourself to live a healthier life by choosing water instead of sugary drinks and take the NB3 Foundation’s Zero to 60 challenge for the month of November.



October 24, 2019

NPI study shows child care centers, schools, hospitals and restaurants purchased over $2.9 million of California-grown fruits and vegetables with new Riverside Unified School District food distribution hub

Researchers at the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) at the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources conducted an evaluation of Riverside Unified School District's (RUSD) pilot food distribution hub. The hub began operations in 2017. Findings indicate that the RUSD distributed $2.9 million of California grown specialty crops from July 2017 through June 2019. Of that amount, $308,000 was purchased from 12 local growers in Riverside County, while $2.6 million was purchased from local produce distribution companies. The food hub purchased over $200,000 of cosmetically imperfect produce and introduced children at schools and childcare centers to new varieties of California-grown fruits and vegetables. Read the full evaluation report or summary for more information. 



October 21-23, 2019

NPI researchers share resources for child care providers on healthy beverages and drinking water at the 28th annual Child Care Food Program Roundtable Conference

The Child Care Food Program Roundtable Conference is an opportunity for stakeholders and members of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) from across the  nation to get together annually. This year, the Roundtable Conference is taking place October 21-23, 2019 in Rancho Mirage, Calif.  On Monday, October 21, Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) researcher Danielle Lee and NPI policy director Ken Hecht will announce, as part of a conference session, a new online training resource for child care providers to support offering healthy beverages. On Wednesday, October 23, NPI's Laura Vollmer and Christina Hecht of the National Drinking Water Alliance will engage providers on how to offer drinking water in accordance with CACFP requirements during their invited presentation on "Clean, Cool Tap Water". 



October 18, 2019

NPI's Laura Vollmer participates in The Community of Food, Society & Justice Conference panel on what's working for increasing access to healthy food

Nutrition Policy Institute researcher Laura Vollmer, MPH, RD will participate in a panel discussion, “Healthy Food Actionists: Lightning fast discussions about what’s working and why” at the The Community of Food, Society & Justice Conference on October 18, 2019 at the University of Michigan. Vollmer will present on efforts across the nation to improve access to healthy beverages, particularly drinking water, through her work coordinating the National Drinking Water Alliance



October 17, 2019 

Lorrene Ritchie quoted in LAist about unhealthy after-school program foods. 

A recent LAist article, We Got The Snack Receipts For LA Rec And Park's After-School Programs — It's Mostly Junk, featured quotes from Nutrition Policy Institute Director, Lorrene Ritchie. Dr. Ritchie explained that eating junk food at snack time can affect a child's overall health. "It's not massive gorging that contributes to obesity,". "It's just the small amount of extra calories every day."



October 17, 2019

Lorrene Ritchie quoted in Washington Post about unhealthy convenience foods marketed for toddlers.

A recent Washington Post article, Sweet excess: How the baby food industry hooks toddlers on sugar, salt and fat featured quotes from Nutrition Policy Institute Director, Lorrene Ritchie. The article discussed the new boom in unhealthy foods and beverages for children six months to 3 years old, packaged for convenience and often promising health benefits. Dr. Ritchie worries that low-income parents will be more inclined to spend their money on these heavily advertised baby foods, toddler milks and packaged snacks at the expense of healthier options. “The amount of funding spent to promote healthy foods, which is mostly via federal nutrition education dollars such as WIC and SNAP-Ed, is dwarfed by food marketing which is mostly for unhealthy and ‘treat’ foods and beverages. I fear we will never make a big dent in diet-related chronic disease until we level this playing field.”



October 10, 2019

UC ANR Global Food Initiative fellow, Elsa Esparza, will work with NPI researchers on a CDFA Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program Evaluation

Elsa Esparza, graduate student from the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, has been selected as Global Food Initiative (GFI) Fellow in the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources for 2019-2020. Esparza will work with NPI researchers to assess the effects of neighborhood stores obtaining refrigeration units on store fruit and vegetable offerings, and store owner and consumer perceptions of the program. Esparza also will help to create public facing research dissemination products designed to communicate with decision makers and other stakeholders.



October 3, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Nutrition research in a hard-to-reach population with Susana Matias, Cooperative Extension Specialist  from UC Berkeley Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology

Latino farmworkers represent a vulnerable and understudied population, with high rates of chronic disease and limited access to health care. Susana Matias, Cooperative Extension Specialist  from UC Berkeley Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology will present findings from a cohort study of Latino farmworker families in Central California and a randomized trial conducted in Salinas and Oxnard. Her results will elucidate their health risks, as well as promising intervention strategies in this medically undeserved population.



September 23, 2019

California Department of Food and Agriculture awards Nutrition Policy Institute $88,000 to evaluate the Expansion of the Riverside Unified School District Food Distribution Hub

In collaboration with the Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) and the Riverside University Health System – Public Health, Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Ron Strochlic and Ken Hecht received a 2019 California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant for the project “Expansion of the Riverside Unified School District Food Distribution Hub.” The award was $432,000 in full, with $88,000 awarded to Strochlic and Hecht. The RUSD food distribution hub began operations with CDFA Specialty Crop Block funding in 2017, and has been distributing fruits and vegetables sourced from local growers to smaller school districts, childcare centers, healthcare providers and restaurants in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Current funding, which begins in November 2019, will allow the food hub to continue growing, with the goal of achieving financial sustainability by the end of the grant period in April 2022.



September 23, 2019

California Department of Food and Agriculture awards Nutrition Policy Institute over $443,000 to Evaluate Text Message Marketing of Specialty Crops to CalFresh Participants

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Wendi Gosliner and Ron Strochlic received a 2019 California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant for the project “Technological Innovations to Increase Specialty Crop Consumption among CalFresh Participants”. The project aims to increase demand for and consumption of specialty crops – fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits – among San Diego County’s CalFresh participants by utilizing the County’s new text messaging system to provide all CalFresh participants with information about, 1) the benefits of consuming specialty crops; 2) affordable, seasonal specialty crops; and 3) how to select, store, and prepare specialty crops. The project will expose tens of thousands of San Diego County CalFresh participants to digital resources developed with cutting-edge behavioral science insights in mind. The project will be conducted in partnership with the University of California, San Diego Center for Community Health and ideas42 beginning November 2019 and will continue through November 2021.


September 23, 2019

University of California submits letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture to oppose proposed rule that would revise the definition of categorical eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Recently proposed new rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), CalFresh in California, would cut 3.1 million people off of SNAP if enacted, as estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In California, that would mean 230,000 - 390,000 or more low-income households would lose access to CalFresh. With support from Nutrition Policy Institute's (NPI) Wendi Gosliner and Ken Hecht, the University of California (UC) submitted to the USDA comments opposing the new rule. The letter was signed by UC President Janet Napolitano and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Vice President Glenda Humiston.

Research conducted by NPI shows that 40% of UC students experience food insecurity. The letter states concern that the proposed rule would hurt low-income college students by eliminating their eligibility for SNAP. Current regulations allow college students SNAP benefits if they are eligible for Federal Work-Study or Cal Grant participation. This is especially important for student parents who make up one-fifth of U.S. college undergraduates and are among the 40 percent who have participated in federal food assistance programs, with 25 percent having received SNAP benefits.



September 10, 2019

Research by Lauren Au of NPI shows association between food insecurity and childhood obesity

One in eight Americans lack access to enough food, and children growing up in food insecure households face many challenges such as behavioral problems, lower academic achievement, disrupted social interactions, and poor health. The prevailing belief is that children living in a food insecure environment leads to undernutrition, and not obesity. However, a study conducted by Lauren Au of NPI showed that children living in food-insecure households had high body mass index, waist circumference, greater odds of being overweight or obese, consumed more sugar from sugar-sweetened beverages, and less frequently ate breakfast and dinner with family compared to children from food-secure households. The study was conducted using data collected in 2013-2015 from 5138 US schoolchildren ages 4-15 years old from 130 communities in the cross-sectional Healthy Communities Study. The study is available online in the Journal of Nutrition.  



September 18, 2019

NPI evaluation suggests that increased use of local parks in California requires infrastructure improvements and sustainable programming

The Nutrition Policy Institute evaluated the Active Parks, Healthy People Pilot Program in three California counties – Fresno, Los Angeles, and Stanislaus. The program aimed to increase local park use and physical activity of program participants. Qualitative findings suggest three key facilitators to promoting park use include: 

  1. Improving park amenities through increased signage, lighting, play equipment, and facilities maintenance
  2. Supporting policy change around park use such as easing restrictions to park use after dark
  3. Establishing community tailored, sustainable park programming

More information about the research findings are available in this research brief and evaluation report.



September 5, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Advancing equitable food systems through evidence-based policy with Sabrina Adler and Nessia Berner Wong of ChangeLab Solutions

As an organization focused on using law and policy to advance health equity ChangeLab Solutions must balance the evidence-base research for action and the values and expertise of the communities we work with. Sabrina Adler, JD and Nessia Berner Wong, MPH from ChangeLab Solutions will join NPI to share examples of this approach in practice at the national, state, and local level; as well as how food system values influence this work. For more information please listen to the brown bag recording.



August 29, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Karen Jetter on a community-based participatory approach to developing affordable, healthy menus 

Karen Jetter PhD, researcher with the UC Agricultural Issues Center,  described the development of a community-based participatory research project with the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria in California in 2010 to develop two weeks of menu that are both affordable and meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Using market basket research techniques, Jetter worked with tribal community members to determine the cost of the menu to be as low as $25 per day for a family of four, or $750 for a 30-day month. At the time, maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for a low-income family of four was $668. In 2015, after adjusting for inflation and increase in food prices, the menu cost $27.95 a day or $838 a month, much higher than the maximum SNAP benefits in 2015 which decreased to $639 a month. This 4.3% decline in SNAP benefits while food prices were increasing makes it hard for the most economically vulnerable to afford a healthy diet. For more information, please see Jetter's presentation slide deck and the Brown Bag recording.



August 21, 2019 

National Drinking Water Alliance provides guidance on public comments for including drinking water in the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Development of the the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, in collaboration by the United States Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, is underway and the public comment period is open. The National Drinking Water Alliance released new guidance for individuals and organizations for public comments to include strong language about drinking water in the 2020 Dietary Guidelines and to add a symbol for water to the MyPlate Graphic. The deadline to submit a comment is May 1, 2020. 



August 8, 2019

National Drinking Water Alliance featured on WebMD

The National Drinking Water Alliance’s advocacy efforts were featured on WebMD, one of America’s most popular health news sources. The outlet’s in-depth article “Not Just One Reason Kids Don't Drink Enough Water,” authored by the Emmy-award winning medical journalist Jennifer Clopton, offers a comprehensive overview of the challenges that parents face in getting their children to drink healthy water instead of choosing sugary drinks or living with chronic under-hydration. Read the entire story online here.



August 1, 2019

NPI study on local health department leaders' experiences planning, implementing and evaluating SNAP-Ed programs is among most-read articles in 2019

NPI research titled the Leaders' Experiences in Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Complex Public Health Nutrition Interventions, written by current and former NPI researchers Heena Shah, Jaime Adler, Karen Webb and Wendi Gosliner, was among the most-read articles in 2019 in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Their article received 420 requests during 2019.



August 1, 2019

USDA releases new report co-authored by NPI researchers on feeding practices of infants and toddlers in the WIC program

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2 (WIC ITFPS-2) captures data on caregivers and their children over the first 5 years of the child’s life after WIC enrollment to address a series of research questions regarding feeding practices, associations between WIC services and those practices, and the health and nutrition outcomes of children receiving WIC. The study previously produced three reports, the Intentions to Breastfeed ReportInfant Year Report, and Second-Year Report. The newest report, Third-Year Report, focuses on caregivers’ employment, school and child care circumstances, as well as the feeding progressions, dietary intake and weight status of children from birth through 36 months. NPI Director Lorrene Ritchie and Associate Researcher Lauren Au are co-authors of the new study.



July 26, 2019

Over 1,000 people attend NPI-sponsored 2019 Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference in Anaheim

Real progress has been made in tackling the epidemic of childhood obesity since the first California Childhood Obesity Conference was held 20 years ago, but there is more work to be done. Three news stories from the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources chronicle NPI's involvement at the conference, where 1,025 public health, nutrition education, research, and other professionals gathered.  



July 25, 2019

NPI research informs BASIC Act – national policy to help college students afford basic needs

U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) introduced on July 23, 2019 the Basic Assistance for Students In College (BASIC) Act to ensure that college students—particularly those receiving Pell Grants or attending a community college or minority-serving institution—are able to afford basic, day-to-day necessities. This legislation would authorize a new discretionary grant program for colleges and universities to set up resources for students that need help in accessing basic needs (i.e. housing, food, affordable childcare). Early this year, several studies on the food insecurity experience among University of California students conducted by NPI researchers – Suzanna Martinez, Lorrene Ritchie, and Karen Webb – were included in the Government Accountability Office report suggesting that more than 30% of college students may face food insecurity on a national scale.



July 25, 2019

National Drinking Water Alliance releases new healthy hydration fact sheets

New quick-read versions of the National Drinking Water Alliance “Healthy Hydration” fact sheet are now available in English and Spanish. The factsheets highlight key reasons why water is a healthy choice for thirst-quenching. Access and download them both here. The National Drinking Water Alliance is coordinated by the Nutrition Policy Institute.



July 17, 2019 

Catalyst of change: Pat Crawford career retrospective

Nutrition Policy Institute's recently retired Pat Crawford, former senior director of research and UC Cooperative Extension specialist, is highlighted in this University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resource (UC ANR) career retrospective. The article chronicles Dr. Crawford's efforts to improve policies to support improved child nutrition and advance nutrition education and communication in California and beyond. Dr. Crawford's career retrospective was featured in Morning Ag Clips



July 16, 2019

Suzanna Martinez presents at University of California Regents Subcomittee on Student Basic Needs

Dr. Suzanna Martinez, NPI Affiliate Researcher and Assistant Professor in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF, spoke to a UC Regents Subcommittee on Student Basic Needs on July 16, 2019.  She presented findings from a series of focus groups with UC students that were conducted to refine survey questions on student housing insecurity. Building on the food insecurity work that she and Dr. Lorrene Ritchie began in 2015, this study, which was funded by the UC Global Food Initiative, aims to enable UC to collect data on the potential impacts on students of the high cost of housing in California.



July 15, 2019

California Department of Food and Agriculture awards NPI $250,000 to Evaluate the California Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program

In response to concerns about low fruit and vegetable consumption in low-income communities with poor access to healthy food in neighborhood food retail outlets, the California Budget Act of 2018 funded the Healthy Stores Refrigeration Grant Program. This program will disburse up to $4,500,000 to eligible stores, small businesses, cities, counties, and non-profits for the purchase of energy-efficient refrigeration units for small retail outlets. The units will be used to stock CA-grown fresh produce, nuts, and minimally processed foods. The California Department of Food and Agriculture awarded Nutrition Policy Institute researcher Wendi Gosliner nearly $250,000 to evaluate the program beginning July 2019 and continuing through June 2021. The study will assess the relationship between obtaining refrigeration units and outcomes related to (1) store environments and produce sales, (2) store owner perceptions and experiences, and (3) customer perceptions and experiences.



July 15–18, 2019

10th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference to take place in Anaheim, California

The 10th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference will take place July 15 to 18, 2019, at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel in Anaheim, California. The Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference is the nation’s largest, most influential collaboration of professionals dedicated to combating pediatric obesity/overweight. Nearly 2,000 attendees from across the country are expected to attend to share and discuss emerging research, best practices, community-based efforts and effective policy strategies that promote and sustain healthy eating and physical activity practices for children, adolescents and their families. This year’s theme is Beyond Obesity: Tackling Root Causes. Keynote speakers, presenters and panel moderators from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources / Nutrition Policy Institute include Glenda Humiston, Lorrene Ritchie, Pat Crawford, Christina Hecht, Gail Woodward-Lopez, Lauren Au, Hannah Thompson, Laura Vollmer, Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Carolyn Rider and Danielle Lee. Conference hosts include the California Department of Public Health, the California Department of Education, Nutrition Policy Institute of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, The California Endowment and Kaiser Permanente.



July 11, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Lori Dorfman on the digital frontiers of junk food marketing that targets kids of color

Lori Dorfman DrPH, director of Berkeley Media Studies Group, a program of the Public Health Institutedescribed how the era of Big Data and mobile marketing has transformed the food marketing landscape that ensnares children and youth today. All children deserve the opportunity to be healthy and thrive, but an all-too-common marketing practice in which food and beverage companies target kids of color with ads for junk food and soda is compromising the health of young African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. In her presentation, Dr. Dorfman outlined the current landscape of junk food and sugary drink targeted marketing, and shared concrete actions that kids, parents, advocates, researchers, and policymakers can take to help hold industry accountable. A PowerPoint slide deck, developed by Berkeley Media Studies Group with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is available for free download on their website, and Dr. Dorfman encourages advocates and others to adapt and use the presentation to help raise the visibility of targeted marketing as a health equity issue. For more information, please see the following publications: Health equity & junk food marketing: Talking about targeting kids of color and Big Data and the transformation of food and beverage marketing: undermining efforts to reduce obesity?



July 8, 2019

NPI's UC Global Food Initiative fellow Melanie Colvin presents on housing and food insecurity in California at 2019 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference

Melanie Colvin, MPH, Nutrition Policy Institute graduate student researcher and University of California Global Food Initiative (UC GFI) fellow, presented her work on addressing food insecurity and housing insecurity in California at the 2019 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference in Santa Barbara, CA on Monday, July 8. Her presentation was part of a pre-conference workshop for UC GFI fellows. Colvin's GFI fellowship focused on documenting organizations in California that address both housing insecurity and food insecurity simultaneously. A final report with policy and program recommendations is forthcoming.



June 25, 2019

Nutrition Policy Institute video highlights policy wins

The Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) envisions a world in which healthy food, beverages and opportunities for physical activity are accessible, affordable, equitable and sustainable for everyone. NPI's mission is to conduct and translate policy-relevant research to transform environments for healthy children, families and communities. Our objectives are to: improve federal nutrition programs and policies; pursue structural changes in food systems; and improve physical and social environments. NPI conducts research that improves the nutrition, health and well-being of people and communities across the state and the nation. Watch our new video to learn how we are mobilizing research to tackle the critical nutrition policy issues of our time.



June 25, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Mahasin Mujahid and Moira O'Neill on Rethinking School Lunch Oakland

Since 2009 more than 70 percent of Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) students have qualified for free or reduced-price lunch—well above the national average. Recognizing that persistent risk of hunger and poor health outcomes impact educational outcomes, OUSD with the Center for Ecoliteracy, launched Rethinking School Lunch Oakland (RSLO). RSLO is comprehensive systems change approach to school meal reform that requires, among other things, infrastructure and equipment investment to improve the quality of school food. Mahasin Mujahid, Associate Professor and Chancellor's Professor of Public Health at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and Moira O'Neill, Associate Research Scientist in the Institute of Urban and Regional Development, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment at UC Berkeley, lead a discussion on RSLO, its implementation and its impact on student eating, particularly in schools where food insecurity appears prevalent.



June 24, 2019

Suzanna Martinez and Lorrene Ritchie publish new study showing the impact of food insecurity on health outcomes among college students

The Nutrition Policy Institute's affiliated researcher, Suzanna Martinez, and NPI director, Lorrene D. Ritchie, published a new study in the journal Nutrients showing the relationship between food insecurity and health-related outcomes in college students. Data collected from over 8,700 graduate and undergraduate students at the University of California 10 campus system in 2015 show that students who experienced food insecurity had decreased sleep and decreased physical activity which was related to increased body mass index and poor health as measured by student self-report. Students experiencing food insecurity also had fewer daily servings of fruits and vegetables which was related to poor health. Findings from this study highlight the importance of food security for a healthy college experience. Martinez and colleagues published previous work on college student food insecurity, including a 2017 report on University of California student food and housing security, a 2018 study exploring the psychosocial effects of food insecurity in college students, a 2018 study exploring the relationship between college student food insecurity and lower academic performance, a 2017 study identifying factors associated with college student food insecurity, and another 2017 study identifying ways in which universities can work to address student food insecurity. 



June 18, 2019

Evan Talmage, Sara Brizendine and Nutrition Policy Institute restaurant kids meal healthy default beverage research team members win UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Award

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Award Program recognizes and rewards outstanding staff individual and/or team performance. Recipients of the 2019 STAR Award include Nutrition Policy Institute’s researcher Evan Talmage, contracts and grants manager Sara Brizendine, and the restaurant kids meal healthy default beverage research team members including Sara Brizendine, Temika Green, Phoebe Harpainter, Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Danielle Lee, Meirong Liao, Rochelle Mandel, Anna Martin, Kaela Plank and Evan Talmage. Recipients of the STAR Award were recognized by ANR leadership at a special event in Davis, Calif. on June 18.



June 8–10, 2019

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers present at Nutrition 2019 Conference

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers will present on several topics at the American Society for Nutrition’s 2019 Annual Meeting (#Nutrition2019) in Baltimore, Maryland.

  • Kaela Plank, NPI evaluation specialist, presents on Saturday, June 8 from 8 to 10 a.m. in a session on Food Security, Nutrition and Health on Household Food Insecurity Is Associated with Higher Adiposity Among U.S. Schoolchildren Age 10-15 Years.  
  • Danielle Lee, NPI policy analyst, presents on Sunday, June 9 from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m. on an Evaluation of an Interactive, Online Training for Child Care Providers on Healthy Beverages for Young Children.
  • Sridharshi Hewawitharana, NPI data analyst, presents on Sunday, June 9 from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. on Utilization of the California Nutrition Incentive Program Among CalFresh Shoppers and Its Association with Food Security Status.
  • Kaela Plank also presents on Monday, June 10 from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. on Duration of WIC Participation Is Associated with Higher Dietary Quality and 24 Months.



June 5, 2019

Student fellowship established to honor retiring Pat Crawford

The Nutrition Policy Institute has established a student fellowship to honor Patricia Crawford, an inspiring leader and mentor whose pioneering accomplishments have helped to safeguard abundant and healthy food for all and promote healthy people and communities. Crawford was honored as one of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health’s 75 most influential alumni. She recently retired from NPI and to honor her immense and thought-leading contributions, NPI has set up a fellowship fund in her honor to train the next generation of students on nutrition research and its policy impacts. Help us honor Pat by donating to the student fellowship fund.



June 5, 2019

Lauren Au presents on school nutrition, WIC infant and toddler feeding practices, at international conference in Prague

Nutrition Policy Institute Assistant Researcher Lauren Au will give two presentations at the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity during the group's annual conference in Prague. Au's talks include "School Nutrition Successes and Opportunities for Improvement Post Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act: The Healthy Communities Study" and "Diet Quality of U.S. Infants and Toddlers 7-24 Months Old in the WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2."  



June 2, 2019

In memoriam: Leann Birch

We remember Leann L. Birch, whose research led to new insights on childhood nutrition and obesity. Her pioneering research brought developmental psychology to the study of nutritional issues involving young children, moving the science of nutrition beyond a focus on foods and nutrients to consider why children eat and how eating habits are developed early in life. She was the chairwoman of several committees on childhood obesity and published more than 200 scholarly articles. Her research findings repeatedly made news over the years.



May 31, 2019

Nutrition Policy Institute CalFresh fact sheet for Monterey County cited in Salinas Californian

The Nutrition Policy Institute CalFresh fact sheet for Monterey County was cited in The Salinas Californian, in an article about CalFresh benefits becoming newly available to people who receive Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payments (SSI/SSP) benefits. The article noted:  "About 45,000 Monterey County residents rely on CalFresh and more than $72 million is directly returned annually into the county's economy, according to the Nutrition Policy Institute. In total, over one in 10 residents use CalFresh monthly, per U.S. Census data."  



May 16, 2019

UC ANR and UC NPI seek UC Global Food Initiative Fellow

The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and the UC Nutrition Policy Institute (UC NPI) seek outstanding UC students to apply for the 2019-20 UC Global Food Initiative Fellowship in Communications/Outreach. The UC ANR GFI Fellowship in Communications/Outreach focuses on community outreach and education, specifically: 1) educating the public through written, visual, and online communications about food policy, nutrition policy, food security, federal food programs, food waste prevention, childhood obesity prevention and other nutrition and food policy topics, and 2) educating the public through written, visual, and online communications about UC ANR’s impact on the above topics. The application deadline is Friday, May 24, 2019. For more information and application instructions, please see the UC ANR GFI Fellow in Communications info sheet.



May 10, 2019

Researchers publish findings on California SNAP-Ed leaders’ experiences planning, implementing and evaluating nutrition promotion and obesity prevention programs

A team of researchers affiliated with the Nutrition Policy Institute, the American Cancer Society and San Francisco State University have just published findings of their study Leaders' Experiences in Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Complex Public Health Nutrition Interventions. Included in in the May 2019 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, the study found that implementing new, complex interventions to improve diet and activity environments and behaviors is both exciting and challenging for local health department leaders. They expressed a desire for additional resources and capacity-building to facilitate success, particularly related to policy, systems and environmental change programs. In addition, attention to the specific needs of rural counties is needed.



May 9, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Dr. Carl Winter on Pesticides in Food: Residues, risks and reality

Pesticide residues in foods represent an issue of considerable public concern. How much residue is in our foods and are these amounts risky? Dr. Carl Winter, Cooperative Extension food toxicologist and vice chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, will address these issues and provide answers to several popular consumer questions about food safety. Dr. Winter is a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists and the 2012 recipient of the Borlaug Council for Agricultural Science and Technology Communication Award. View the presentation, read the slides and hear Dr. Winter sing about food safety



May 1, 2019

Ron Strochlic collaborates with UC Berkeley Food Institute on immigrant food research

The Nutrition Policy Institute’s Ron Strochlic collaborated with the UC Berkeley Food Institute on research that sheds light on gender dynamics and fear of immigration policies as a barrier to immigrant families participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The research was cited in a fact sheet distributed by Protecting Immigrant Families.



April 24, 2019

Lorrene Ritchie presents on CACFP meal standards at 2019 National Child Nutrition Conference

Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie presents on Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meal standards at the 2019 National Child Nutrition Conference. Her presentation is part of the “State Findings for New Meal Pattern Readiness” workshop on Wednesday, April 24, from 2 to 3 p.m. The workshop will cover the food environment in child care settings across four states (California, Mississippi, Georgia and Connecticut) and discuss progress on implementation of the updated CACFP meal patterns across the four states, as well as supports and barriers to implementing the updated meal patterns.



April 24, 2019

Christina Hecht presents ANR Spotlight Series Webinar on school drinking water

Nutrition Policy Institute Senior Policy Analyst Christina Hecht presents a webinar on school drinking water as part of the ANR Spotlight Series of webinars. The webinar takes place on April 24, at 11 a.m. Titled “School Drinking Water - What we should know and do,” the webinar covers negative effects on health of sugar-sweetened drinks, positive effects of drinking water, health impacts of contaminants in water and what steps you can take to make a difference. Findings from a collaborative study on testing lead in school drinking water, conducted by the Nutrition Policy Institute and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, will be discussed. The Zoom webinar can be accessed at; +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656; Webinar ID: 751 701 428.



April 3, 2019

Lorrene Ritchie quoted in Washington Post about preferred dietary guidelines for children ages 0 to 2

A recent Washington Post article, What to feed your baby? New dietary guidelines weigh in on pregnant women, infants and young children featured quotes from Nutrition Policy institute Director Lorrene Ritchie. The article focused on the upcoming 2020 version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which for the first time will attempt to provide strong, evidence-based recommendations for pregnant women, infants and young children. “There was a time when we did not view 0 to 2 as a target for obesity prevention,” said Lorrene Ritchie, a nutrition and nutrition policy specialist in Berkeley, Calif. “We felt young children were much better at self-regulating. Obesity is the canary in the coal mine for health. It’s kind of like the climate change of public health.” The article continues: “It is too early to say what specific recommendations the committee will make, but Ritchie would like to see: a preference for breast-feeding over formula and beginning to transition to solid foods at around 6 months, with a focus on a diet that is mostly plant-based, low in sugar, salt and fat. Another shortcoming of current guidelines, she says, is that they give no recommendations for the consumption of water. (Most other countries include water guidelines). Even infants beginning at 6 months should be exposed to water in a cup. Optimally, the only beverages children should drink are milk and water, no other beverages artificially or naturally sweetened,” she said.



March 26, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Ken Hecht on the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act authorizes all of the federal school meal and child nutrition programs that provide funding to ensure that low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods. The child nutrition programs touch millions of children each day and improve educational achievement, economic security, nutrition and health. The Nutrition Policy Institute's Policy Director Ken Hecht leads a discussion on the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act and potential changes to improve the current policy. 



March 21, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Hannah Thompson on the impact of litigation on physical education and student fitness in California

Hannah Thompson PhD, MPH is a research scientist at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and an affiliated researcher at the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute. Her expertise is in the evaluation of programs related to physical activity and obesity. Her research focuses on identifying best practices to improve health outcomes, with a focus on children in communities at highest risk for inactivity and poor health. In this talk, she will discuss the benefits and limitations of using litigation to change educational practices and improve student health. Litigation has recently been used in California in an attempt to increase physical education (PE) provision in schools; several lawsuits have been filed against 129 school districts found to be noncompliant with state PE law.  Thompson will cover findings from two Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded studies examining 1) districts’ and schools’ perceptions of the lawsuits' impact on PE quantity and quality, as well as the unintended consequences of a litigious approach, and 2) the impact of these lawsuits on students' cardiorespiratory fitness. 



March 13 - 15, 2019

Nutrition Policy Institute presents at Healthy Eating Research annual grantee meeting

Nutrition Policy Institute staff attends the 13th annual grantee meeting organized by Healthy Eating Research (HER) in Detroit, Michigan, to present their research funded by HER. Lorrene Ritchie PhD, RD, director of NPI, presents with NPI Policy Analyst Dani Lee on “Infant Nutrition in California Child Care Centers and Homes Prior to Implementation of New CACFP Standards.” NPI Assistant Researcher Lauren Au PhD, RD,  discusses Diet Quality of U.S. Infants and Toddlers 7-24 Months Old in the WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2,” and School Nutrition Successes and Opportunities for Improvement Post Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act: The Healthy Communities Study.” NPI Senior Policy Analyst Christina Hecht PhD presents with Angie Craddock ScD, MPE of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on “Early Adopters: Current Practices and Preliminary Findings in States Adopting School-Based Water Quality Testing Programs.” Hecht also presents with Anisha Patel MD, MSPH, MSHS of Stanford University on “Testing Drinking Water in California Public Schools for Lead and Other Contaminants in the Context of an Obesity-Prevention Strategy.” Healthy Eating Research is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that supports research on environmental and policy strategies that have strong potential to promote healthy eating among children, especially among lower-income and racial and ethnic populations at highest risk for obesity. Research is conducted in order to advance RWJF’s efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic and help all children in the United States to grow up at a healthy weight.



March 8, 2019

CalHealthReport article on AB 842 mentions Nutrition Policy Institute research featured in California Agriculture

An article in CalHealthReport on AB 842: Child nutrition: school, childcare and preschool meals, a new law proposed by Assembly members Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) and Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), cites Nutrition Policy Institute research, Communitywide strategies key to preventing childhood obesity, that was featured in California Agriculture. The CalHealth Report article goes on to quote NPI Director Lorrene Ritchie: “The link between healthy, sufficient food and early childhood learning is well established. We have determined that early childhood education is so important for grasping skills early on such as reading, but any child who is hungry can’t pay attention and is at risk for falling behind, and staying behind,” said Ritchie.



March 7, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Suzanne Rauzon on trends in obesity and school prevention interventions

Suzanne Rauzon directs community-based prevention research projects that have a policy and environmental focus, particularly in schools. She is the study director of the Thriving Schools Initiative evaluation for Kaiser Permanente. In this talk, she will look at the recent trends in obesity, a decade of achievements in school interventions in obesity preventions, and what’s next. Suzanne holds degrees and credentials in communication technology, human nutrition and exercise physiology and has a masters in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. She is credentialed with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of Sports Medicine.



March 6, 2019

Christina Hecht quoted in The Guardian about testing school drinking water for lead

A recent article in The Guardian on the lead contamination of drinking water in schools, A hidden scandal: America’s school students exposed to water tainted by toxic lead, includes results from a joint study by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the Nutrition Policy Institute, a tap water contamination map from the National Drinking Water Alliance website, and quotes NPI Senior Policy Analyst Christina Hecht: “Still, said Christina Hecht, a researcher with the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute, one of the key takeaways from her study of state lead testing policies is the wide variation in how lead is meant to be tested. The problem, ‘Calls out for federal attention.’” The article goes on to mention the billions of dollars it would take to remove lead from schools, but adds that the investment could save as much as $84 billion annually in health care costs.



March 1, 2019

Nutrition Policy Institute authors lead new study examining the contribution of WIC-eligible foods to the diet of toddlers

A new national observational study examines commonly consumed foods and estimates the proportion of WIC-eligible foods in the diet of 13- and 24-month-old toddlers. The study also assesses nutritional differences by WIC participation status at 24 months. Nutrition Policy Institute authors Lauren Au and colleagues Lorrene Ritchie, Klara Gurzo and Kaela Plank led the study. The results showed that at 13 and 24 months, most (60% and 63%, respectively) of the commonly consumed foods were eligible for purchase as part of the child WIC food package. WIC-eligible foods provided more than 40 percent of calories and close to 50 percent or more of other nutrients, and the contribution of WIC-eligible foods to overall micronutrient intake increased between 13 and 24 months. Children still on WIC at 24 months obtained a larger proportion of calories and most other nutrients from WIC-eligible foods than children no longer on WIC. The study concluded that WIC-eligible foods could contribute to the overall diet of toddlers enrolled in WIC prenatally or in early infancy. Further, there may be additional nutritional benefits of staying on the WIC program through 24 months.



February 28, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Erica Gunderson on pregnancy and lactation: an early window into women's cardiometabolic health

Erica Gunderson PhD, MS, MPH, RD is a senior research scientist and epidemiologist in the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California. She conducts longitudinal studies to better understand the relationship of pregnancy and lactation to the development of obesity-related metabolic diseases and cardiovascular disease in women. Her research focuses on gestational diabetes mellitus and modifiable risk factors to prevent progression to type 2 diabetes during midlife. She has led numerous studies based on the multi-center NHLBI NGHS and the CARDIA cohorts of young black and white women.



February 21, 2019

Kristine Madsen and Jennifer Falbe publish new study showing that soda consumption in Berkeley declined 52 percent after soda tax

Nutrition Policy Institute affiliated researchers Kristine Madsen and Jennifer Falbe have published a new study in the American Journal of Public Health showing that soda consumption in Berkeley declined 52 percent after the soda tax was implemented. The researchers' study is generating a lot of interest. KNEB, an ABC News Radio affiliate, quoted Madsen on the dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages: “Sugar-sweetened beverages are the single dietary item [that has been] shown to cause obesity.” Quoted by NPR, Madsen said, "It's a pretty high bar for public health to be able to say that something is causing a major epidemic," she says. "We can do that for sugar-sweetened beverages." UC Berkeley News also quoted Madsen: “This just drives home the message that soda taxes work. Importantly, our evidence comes from low-income and diverse neighborhoods, which have the highest burden of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, not to mention a higher prevalence of advertising promoting unhealthy diets.” She went on to say: “I really want to push back against this idea that taxes are the sign of a nanny state. They are one of many ways to make really clear what we value as a country. We want to end this epidemic of diabetes and obesity, and taxes are a form of counter-messaging, to balance corporate advertising. We need consistent messaging and interventions that make healthier foods desirable, accessible and affordable.”



February 21, 2019

Lauren Au provides update on the Farm Bill at Nutrition Leadership Network meeting

The Nutrition Policy Institute's Lauren Au provides an update on the Farm Bill and how it will affect nutrition assistance programs and the Registered Dietitician profession. Her talk is part of the Western Maternal Child Health Nutrition Leadership Network Meeting. The purpose of the Nutrition Leadership Network is to provide leadership training, support, technical assistance and opportunities for collaborative learning so that the practice of public health nutrition is strengthened across the western states. Learn more about Au's presentation.



February 20, 2019

Research to Action shares lessons learned from the Healthy Communities Study

The February 2019 issue of the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) Research to Action news brief examines the Healthy Communities Study, a 10-year National Institutes of Health-funded study investigating the impact of community-based nutrition and physical activity programs on childhood obesity. Learn more about the largest national study of its kind and how it helps to inform future efforts to improve child diet and physical activity.



February 15, 2019

Lorrene Ritchie honored by Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior as Gold Author

In recognition of her many manuscripts published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB) during the last ten years, Lorrene Ritchie has been honored as a Gold Author. “We truly appreciate the excellent manuscripts you send,” Susan Pollock, managing editor of JNEB, noted.



February 14, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Lauren Au on demystifying the grants process

Lauren Au, assistant researcher at the Nutrition Policy Institute, will lead an interactive grants workshop that will showcase examples from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She will cover the following topics:

  • Where do you find information about grants?
  • How do you choose which grants to apply for?
  • What is the scoring/funding level for RWJF or NIH grants?
  • What is an example timeline for grants to be funded?
  • What skillsets are important for successfully securing grant funding?



February 7, 2019

UC Global Food Initiative Healthy Vending Work Group publishes UC Healthy Vending Policy; NPI’s Janice Kao is co-chair of work group

The Nutrition Policy Institute is part of the UC Global Food Initiative Healthy Vending Work Group, which aims to improve access to healthy food and beverage options sold in vending machines for students and employees throughout the entire UC system. NPI’s Janice Kao is co-chair of the work group. Through research of existing healthy vending policies and extensive outreach with stakeholder groups throughout UC, the work group has developed the UC Healthy Vending Guidelines and a Best Practices Implementation Toolkit. See the UC Healthy Vending Policy section of our Resources page for more information.



January 31, 2019

NPI Brown Bag: Susan Watson on the evolution of CA4Health: From community transformation to community of practice

Susan Watson MPH, program director for both the CA4Health community of practice to advance chronic disease prevention and health equity across California, and the California Adolescent Health Collaborative that works to improve the wellness of youth across California, presents a special brown bag. She will discuss how CA4Health leveraged its role as a community transformation grantor focused on rural and smaller communities to become an inclusive statewide community of practice advancing chronic disease prevention and health equity across California. CA4Health did this by building capacity, increasing intersectional awareness and advocacy, and highlighting the importance of community voice in the democratization of health. Throughout her career, Watson has prioritized working on issues related to equity, community health, and the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities. Watch the presentation and view the slides.



January 9, 2019

New research from Harvard and NPI: Millions of children in the U.S. could be getting too much lead in the water they drink at school

Despite an uptick in awareness of and attention to the issue of lead in drinking water, many students in the U.S. attend public schools in states where not all taps are tested for lead, according to a report released today from the Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California. Even among states that have a policy or program in place to test school drinking water for lead, the report finds there is notable variation in program development and protocols. The report, State Approaches to Testing School Drinking Water for Lead in the United States, describes the features of statewide initiatives in 24 states and the District of Columbia that were in operation between January 2016 and February 2018. A related research brief summarizes select characteristics of state-level policies and programs to test for lead in school drinking water. The report and research brief were funded by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.



January 9, 2019

U.S. Government Accountability Office releases report on college student food insecurity

U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and Ed Markey (D-MA), released a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showing that college students around the country are struggling to afford food and basic nutrition. The report reviewed 31 studies on college student food insecurity, including studies conducted by the Nutrition Policy Institute. The report is the first time a federal government agency confirms that food insecurity is a widespread issue and recommends the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) take steps to help enroll potentially eligible students in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. GAO also found that almost 2 million at-risk students who were potentially eligible for SNAP were not currently receiving benefits. However, because many students are ineligible for assistance under SNAP, GAO also recommends further action is taken to address food insecurity on college campuses.

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