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Research for healthy food, people and places

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.

Read more about our mission and vision, and learn about our impact.

 

News Brief Sign-Up

Be sure to sign up to receive Research to Action, the Nutrition Policy Institute's quarterly news brief providing information on research, policy, news, announcements, events, articles and action items focused on nutrition and healthy communities.

Join us on May 19-20, noon to noon for our 24-hour online giving campaign as we invite support of our mission.

News

  • Marisa Tsai recognized with an American Society for Nutrition emerging leader in nutrition science award

    May 17, 2022

    Marisa Tsai has been named as a finalist for the Emerging Leaders in Nutrition Science Abstract Recognition Award Program, a program of the American Society for Nutrition that recognizes the highest quality research presented by students and young investigators at Nutrition 2022 Live Online. Tsai is a research data analyst at the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute, and a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health. More than 700 abstracts were submitted by students and postdoctoral fellows and the award program aims to recognize the top 15% highest scoring abstracts. Abstracts were rated by more than 400 nutrition scientists. Finalists will be recognized during the Nutrition 2022 Live Online conference that will be held virtually from June 14-16, 2022. Tsai's abstract is titled “Larger WIC Cash Value Benefit for Vegetables and Fruit Is Associated With Lower Food Insecurity and Improved Participant Satisfaction in WIC Families With Children”.


  • New policy brief to inform California’s SB 1481 shows how the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program fills nutrition gaps for preschoolers

    May 17, 2022

    The federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides balanced and nutritious meals to nearly 800,000 California preschoolers each day. Research conducted by the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute shows that CACFP-participating childcare sites offer better quality meals compared to sites that do not participate. The CACFP can also reduce family food insecurity. California Senate Bill 1481 (Becker)—Food with Care—would establish a free daily meal program for children in childcare centers and homes that participate in CACFP, while also ensuring adequate and fair pay for child care providers. The bill is co-sponsored by CACFP Roundtable and Nourish CA. A new NPI policy brief synthesizes research showing the need for increased access to healthy food for preschool-aged children in California, citing inadequate access to healthy food contributing to increased risks of children's developing poor health outcomes such as overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, and other health and psychological issues. These health issues can cost California over $71 billion dollars annually.


  • Study identifies how to help college students access the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

    May 16, 2022

    Ensuring college students have access to nutritious and affordable food is critical to support their health and academic success. However, rates of food insecurity amongst college students—on average 43%—is three times higher than adults in the US. University of California researchers have identified ways to support college students in gaining access to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—known as CalFresh in California­—including having county staff present on college campuses to support SNAP enrollment and ensuring campus staff have strong relationships with county SNAP agencies. Researchers also identified inconsistent student SNAP eligibility information and procedures across county offices as a common barrier for students to access SNAP benefits. These themes were identified through in-depth interviews with twenty-one key informants, including staff from the UC on-campus Basic Needs Centers, campus financial aid offices, county agencies, and food banks. The findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior by Erin Esaryk and Lorrene Ritchie of the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, Laurel Moffat of Washington State University Extension, and principal investigator Suzanna Martinez of UC San Francisco Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. The study was funded by California State Legislature to the UC system for addressing students' basic needs as part of the UC Basic Needs Initiative.


  • Support the Nutrition Policy Institute Student Fellowship on Giving Day 2022 on May 19

    May 16, 2022

    Join the Nutrition Policy Institute for 24 hours of giving starting Thursday May 19, 2022, at 12:00 noon. Giving Day 2022 is an opportunity to donate to NPI to help make a difference in the lives of Californians through supporting access to healthy food and nutrition programs for millions of children and families. Funds donated to NPI will support the NPI Student Fellowship in honor of Pat Crawford, Cooperative Extension Specialist emeritus, and our founding co-director. Please be sure to select ‘Nutrition Policy Institute' and ensure the designation is ‘Nutrition Policy Institute Student Fellowship'. Consider sharing this opportunity with family and friends as many employers offer matching donations.


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  • UC researchers propose new tool to measure school food packaging waste as few standardized methodologies exist

    May 13, 2022

    Nearly half of the 14,500 tons of solid waste generated by public schools in the US is food packaging. University of California researchers have created a standardized method to measure this waste as a first step toward reducing it. They started by evaluating methods used to quantify and categorize the types of food packaging waste generated and how it is disposed of in school foodservice settings in a new publication in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The article debuts a proposed new instrument–Waste Audit for Sustainable Transitions and Evaluations (WASTE)–to help the research community better measure and understand food packaging waste in US school foodservice. The study was led by UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management doctoral candidate Jessica Heiges in collaboration with Danielle Lee, Wendi Gosliner and Lorrene Ritchie from the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, Hannah Thompson and Kristine Madsen from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Kate O'Neill from the UC Berkeley Department of ESPM, Laura Vollmer from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Kate Wobbekind from San Francisco Unified School District. This research was supported by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant number 2020-68015-30736.


  • Study suggests SNAP shoppers can access organic fruits and vegetables at lower prices when shopping at farmers' markets compared to supermarkets

    May 13, 2022

    Participants of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program often report high prices and lack of access to high-quality, affordable produce as a leading barrier to increasing their fruit and vegetable consumption. Researchers at the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute compared the costs of the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables for a household when shopping at farmers' markets compared to supermarkets. Using data from eleven farmers' markets and seven supermarkets across California, they found that farmers' market prices tended to be lower than supermarkets for organic fruits and vegetables and higher than supermarkets for conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, though few differences were statistically significant. A family of three may pay $16.34 less on average if shopping at the farmers market instead of the supermarket for organic produce to meet their weekly recommended intake per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If purchasing a mixture of conventional and organic produce, it may cost $3.68 more on average to shop at the farmers' market. These findings are important to inform nutrition incentive programs such as Market Match which offer SNAP (CalFresh in California) participants financial incentives to use their benefits at participating farmers' markets. The study was published in the journal Nutrients by NPI researchers Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Karen Webb, Ron Strochlic, and Wendi Gosliner.


  • NPI presents early survey results at CA Department of Education Universal Meals Listening Session Tues., May 17, 2022, 2 p.m.

    May 12, 2022

    Through the California Universal Meals Program public school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools will provide breakfast and lunch at no charge to students requesting a meal, regardless of their free or reduced-price meal eligibility during each school day. On Tues., May 17, 2022, at 2 p.m., the California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division (NSD) is hosting the seventh listening session for the newly established California Universal Meals Program beginning in School Year 2022­–23. Wendi Gosliner, a researcher from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Nutrition Policy Institute, will share the early results of surveys conducted with families and members of the school nutrition community. The target audience for the listening session includes all state and local school nutrition professionals, superintendents, school business officials, and community partners involved in school meal service. This listening session is free and participants can attend online or over the telephone using Zoom. Please register in advance.


  • Webinar: Improving Drinking Water Equity & Access in Schools, Thurs., May 19, 2022, 10-10:50 a.m. PT

    May 11, 2022

    Nutrition Policy Institute researcher and policy advisor, Christina Hecht, will speak at an upcoming Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study online coffee chat Thurs., May 19, 2022, from 10-10:50 a.m. PT on Improving Drinking Water Equity & Access in Schools on. Hecht will share findings from evaluating the potential cost-effectiveness of a strategy to improve access to drinking water in California schools in collaboration with project partners Jessie Gouck from the California Department of Public Health and Joanne Seavy-Hultquist from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. Speakers will discuss how improving access to safe and appealing drinking water can be a key part of creating a healthy school environment that will set children up for a healthy future. Participants will be able to connect and learn from others about current initiatives, opportunities, and challenges to increase access to quality drinking water in their schools and communities. Hecht also coordinates the National Drinking Water Alliance. Register for free online.


  • Longer breastfeeding duration is associated with a greater variety of vegetables consumed by young children

    Apr 22, 2022

    Longer breastfeeding direction is significantly associated with greater variety of vegetables consumed by young children according to a new study published by University of California researchers. Researchers used dietary intake and breastfeeding data from participants in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)–the WIC Infant, Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2, also known as the ‘Feeding My Baby Study'. They also found that eating a larger variety of vegetables during the early stages of solid food introduction was associated with increased intake of vegetables later in childhood. These findings are important as they indicate several behavioral targets to increase intake of a greater variety of vegetables by young children. The study was conducted by Hannah Thompson at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and the UC Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) in collaboration with Christine Borger at Westat, Courtney Paolicelli at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Shannon Whaley at Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC, and Lorrene Ritchie at the UC NPI. The study was funded by the Office of Policy Support in the Food and Nutrition Service, USDA contract AG-3198-K-15-0050.


  • NPI’s Wendi Gosliner helps define plant-based food and assesses the policy landscape facing the plant-based food industry in Plant Futures online webinar

    Wendi Gosliner, senior researcher and policy advisor at the Nutrition Policy Institute, will co-present on Thursday, Apr. 14 a webinar on ‘Defining and expanding plant-based food: Why it matters and where it's headed'. Webinar participants will learn about needed food policy to support the growth and innovation of plant-based foods, the unique challenges the plant-based foods industry faces, and what questions consumers could be asking when assessing the food landscape. Gosliner will co-present with Sabina Vyas, senior director of impact strategies at the Plant Based Foods Association and Plant Based Foods Institute. The Plant Futures initiative launched in 2021 as a multidisciplinary program at the University of California Berkeley focused on plant-centric food systems and their impacts on human health, animal welfare, and planetary sustainability, with programming expanding to campuses across the globe. The webinar will take place at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Registration is free, open to the public, and available online.


Please see additional news items in our News section

You can now contribute to the work of NPI by making a tax-deductible donation. Your gift will help reduce food insecurity, obesity and diabetes by ensuring that healthy food, beverages and opportunities for physical activity are convenient, accessible, affordable and sustainable.