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.

By Danielle L. Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement