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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.

  • Students perceive that Universal School Meals reduce stigma, promote food security, simplify payments and increase participation

    Jul 15, 2024

    A recently published study reveals that California students appreciate Universal School Meals, reporting that having meals free of charge for all students made school meals more accessible, reduced stigma, improved food security, and streamlined the process for receiving meals. Prompted by the rise in food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020-2022 the USDA implemented an unprecedented change allowing schools to serve meals free of charge to all students regardless of household income.  For many students, school meals are their primary source of nutritious food. This qualitative study, conducted in 9 different regions in California, interviewed 67 middle and high school students, representative of the demographic profile of students in the state, about their experiences with Universal School Meals during the pandemic. Students expressed widespread appreciation for the program and a desire for its continuation. Students of different backgrounds agreed that the program supported food security by relieving the financial burden on families during an economically hard time. This was achieved through easier access to school meals by eliminating income barriers and the eligibility process. Universal School Meals also reduced the stigma faced by those who receive free or reduced-price school meals by including everyone in the program. There is still room for improvement, as students expressed concern about the quality and quantity of food served during the pandemic and perceived greater food waste. California was the first state to commit to continuing Universal School Meals beyond the 2021-2022 school year. This study was published online in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior co-authored by Dania Orta-Aleman, Monica Zuercher, Kassandra Bacon, Carolyn Chelius, Christina Hecht, Ken Hecht, Lorrene Ritchie, and Wendi Gosliner of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Juliana Cohen of Merrimack College. This research was funded by California General Fund SB 170.

  • Mixed-methods analysis shows high support among Maine and California parents for School Meals for All policy

    Jul 15, 2024

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, US Congress authorized the USDA to provide free school meals to all students regardless of family income. After the 2021-2022 school year, most states reverted to previous eligibility criteria, but California and Maine implemented permanent universal school meal policies. A new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics analyzed parent perceptions of these policies during the 2021-2022 school year using surveys and interviews. Results showed that parents, whether eligible for free or reduced-priced meals or not, believe universal free school meals help save time, money, and reduce stress. Parents showed high support for these policies and felt they reduced stigma, especially when applying for free or reduced-price meals. Opinions on meal healthfulness and quality were mixed, but parents appreciated the impact of the meals. Researchers suggested that states should consider adopting universal free school meal policies to reduce stigma and encourage higher participation among low-resource families. The study was conducted by Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Wendi Gosliner, Kenneth Hecht, Christina Hecht, Monica Zuercher, and Lorrene Ritchie, Leah Champman and Deborah Olarte from Merrimack College, Marlene Schwartz from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health, University of Connecticut, Lindsey Turner from Boise State University, Michele Polacsek from the University of New England, Anisha Patel from Stanford University and Juliana Cohen and Tara Daly from Merrimack College.

  • Research brief: Impacts of Government Investments in School Meals for All program in California

    Jul 8, 2024

    A recent Nutrition Policy Institute research brief explores how funds from the US Department of Agriculture and the State of California may have helped schools make improvements to their meal programs. The grants were distributed after California started the School Meals For All program to offer breakfast and lunch daily to all K-12 students at no charge, regardless of family income level, in 2022-23. The study surveyed 430 food service directors in March 2023, representing a third of all school food authorities in California, and asked about federal and local grants awarded from school year 2021-2022 until time of survey in 2023. Schools that had used the grant funds by the time of the survey reported purchasing new kitchen equipment, upgrading cafeterias, and improving operations. The grants also allowed schools to increase staff salaries and use more local produce. One school food service director put it this way, “The Kitchen Infrastructure and Training grant allowed us to make changes to our kitchens and buy new equipment that would help change the infrastructure of the way that we serve and do meals. And so, we are really making a huge push right now to get away from packaged foods.” However, many schools reported still lacking enough space for food preparation and storage, suggesting that continued investments are needed to further improve meal operations. Findings in this brief suggest that government investments in school meals may have improved the capabilities of SFAs to purchase, prepare, and store more fresh foods. The research was conducted by Monica Zuercher, Wendi Gosliner, Christina Hecht, Ken Hecht, Lorrene Ritchie and Dania Orta-Aleman from the Nutrition Policy Institute and funded by the State of California through CA SB 170, CA SB 154 and CA SB 101.

  • Study supports an increase in WIC Cash Value Benefit by identifying an impact on the amount and diversity of fruits and vegetables redeemed

    Jul 3, 2024

    Children participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children—commonly known as WIC—are at nutritional risk and need essential nutrients from fruits and vegetables to support development. The WIC food package includes a monthly Cash Value Benefit for purchasing fruits and vegetables. A  study in Los Angeles analyzed the impact of increasing the Cash Value Benefit on the amount and diversity of fruits and vegetables purchased by WIC participants. The Cash Value Benefit was raised from $9 to $35 per month and then adjusted to $24. Survey and redemption data from caregivers representing 1,463 WIC children showed that the diversity of fruits and vegetables redeemed increased significantly when the Cash Value Benefit increased. Although the study did not find a direct link between fruit and vegetable diversity and overall consumption, a diverse diet promotes adequate development and long-term health. The study was published online in Current Developments in Nutrition, and co-authored by Alana Chaney, Gayathri Pundi and Lauren Au of the University of California, Davis Department of Nutrition, Christopher Anderson and Shannon E Whaley of Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC, Lorrene Ritchie of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cassandra Nguyen from UC Cooperative Extension at UC Davis. This study was supported by the UC Davis Public Impact Research Initiative, US Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Project# CA-D-NTR-2689-H, Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, round 12, grant number 77239, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, grant number 2020-70267 and the University of California Office of the President Historically Black Colleges and Universities Fellowship.

  • NPI is seeking a graduate student Sustainable Agriculture and Food Fellow

    The Nutrition Policy Institute is seeking a University of California graduate student fellow to join our efforts to improve food and nutrition security among currently and formerly incarcerated individuals in California. This fellowship opportunity is part of the 2024-2025 UC Bonnie Reiss Climate Action Fellowship Program, which supports the UC's climate goals by reducing greenhouse gas emission and establishing climate programs and policies centered on equity, sustainability, and resiliency. In addition to working with the NPI Farm to Corrections project team, fellows will participate in UC systemwide activities. This fellowship is a 10-month commitment from September 2024 – July 2025. Fellows will receive a $5,000 stipend. Applications are due by July 31, 2024. The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, protected veteran status, or other protected categories covered by the UC nondiscrimination policy.

  • New study describes the benefits and challenges schools experienced during the first year of California’s Universal School Meal policy

    Jun 25, 2024

    California became the first state in the nation to enact a universal school meal policy in 2022. A new study published in Nutrients explores the benefits and challenges California schools experienced during the first year of implementing the new policy, sharing results from surveys completed by 430 California school foodservice professionals in March 2023. Benefits included increased meal participation and revenues, reduced meal debt and stigma, and improved meal quality and staff salaries. Schools experienced challenges related to product and ingredient availability, staffing shortages, logistical issues with vendors and distributors, and increased administrative burden due to the end of federal waivers and return of families needing to complete school meal applications for federal reimbursement. Schools reported that state funding and increased federal school meal reimbursement rates were key factors that supported policy implementation. Findings can be used to inform other states and jurisdictions considering similar policies. The study was published online in June 2024 by lead author Monica Zuercher from the Nutrition Policy Institute, additional NPI researchers Dania Orta-Aleman, Christina Hecht, Ken Hecht, Lorrene Ritchie and Wendi Gosliner, and collaborators Juliana Cohen, Michele Polacsek and Anisha Patel. The research was funded by California General Fund Senate Bill 170, Senate Bill 154 and Senate Bill 101. Learn more about NPI's research on universal school meal programs in California and across the nation.

  • New research brief explores perspectives on the Child and Adult Care Food Program’s serious deficiency process

    Jun 24, 2024

    The federal Child and Adult Care Food Program, commonly known as CACFP, ensures over 4.2 million children, mostly in families with low income, receive nutritious meals and snacks in childcare. However, not all qualifying childcare providers participate in this beneficial program. Research suggests that the serious deficiency process, designed to ensure program integrity, may hinder participation. Interviews with ten California CACFP sponsors—who administer the program for family childcare home providers and some centers—highlight key issues. Sponsors find the process too harsh, disqualifying providers for simple mistakes, creating equity issues for those with limited technology skills or non-English speakers, and being subjective, unclear and time consuming. These findings are timely as the USDA considers improvements. The full research brief, “CACFP Family Childcare Home Sponsor Perspectives - Serious Deficiency Challenges,” was published by the Nutrition Policy Institute, University of California, Berkeley, and the CACFP Roundtable. This research is part of a larger project funded by Healthy Eating Research, and national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

  • NPI collaborates on latest USDA WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2 Report

    Jun 21, 2024

    The federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children—commonly known as WIC—safeguards the health of pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and young children from low-income households who are at nutritional risk. The WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study, also known as the "Feeding My Baby Study," is the only national study to capture data on caregivers and their children over the first nine years of the child's life after enrollment in WIC, regardless of their continued participation in the program. The WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2: Sixth Year Report is the seventh in a series generated from this study. It focuses on children's dietary intake patterns, eating behaviors, and weight status during the child's 6th year, after WIC eligibility has ended. The report also explores whether patterns of WIC participation in early childhood are associated with dietary behaviors and nutrient intakes after WIC eligibility ends. Key findings from the report include:

    • Consistent 5-year participation in WIC is associated with better overall diet quality at age 6 compared to participation during only the first year of life.
    • Longer participation in WIC is associated with lower saturated fat intake at age 6.
    • At age 6, study children consumed recommended amounts of macronutrients but had inadequate intake of certain micronutrients, including vitamin E, calcium, and vitamin D.
    • Usual intake of fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein foods, and grains among study participants was consistent with that of a national sample but lower than recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

    The report was published by the US Department of Agriculture and includes Nutrition Policy Institute's Lorrene Ritchie as a co-author. Read a summary of the report online.

  • NPI releases Federal Fiscal Year 2023 CalFresh Healthy Living data briefs

    Jun 21, 2024

    A new set of data briefs developed by the Nutrition Policy Institute showcases the impactful programming carried out by local health departments through California's SNAP-Ed program in Federal Fiscal Year 2023.

    • FFY 2023 CalFresh Healthy Living Program at a Glance: Learn more about the community context and overall reach of local health department CalFresh Healthy Living in FFY 2023.
    • Policy, Systems, & Environmental Change Efforts: Learn about the audiences local health departments reached with policy, systems and environmental change—commonly known as PSE— efforts, as well as common settings and PSE approaches.
    • Educational Activities: Learn about the audiences local health departments reached with CalFresh Healthy Living education, as well as common settings and educational approaches.
    • Partnerships & Multi-Sector Coalitions: Learn about the ways local health departments engaged with community partners and multi-sector coalitions to support and sustain impactful interventions.
    • Program Effectiveness: Learn about the PSE practices in place at CalFresh Healthy Living sites as measured by site-level assessment questionnaires, behavioral outcomes of school-based interventions as evaluated via Impact Outcome Evaluation and outcomes from adult direct education.

    The data briefs were created by NPI's CalFresh Healthy Living Evaluation Unit.

  • Policy brief shows increase in WIC cash value benefit increases redemption for fresh fruits and vegetables

    Jun 19, 2024

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, provides nutrition assistance to low-income pregnant and postpartum women. The WIC cash value benefit (CVB) for fruits and vegetables was increased from $9/month to $35/month in June 2021 and was revised further to $25/month from October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023. A new policy brief from the Nutrition Policy Institute and PHFE-WIC researchers shows how an increase in the CVB increased the redemption amount and diversity of fruits and vegetables purchased among participating families. The brief highlights findings from a larger study of 1578 WIC-participating families in Los Angeles, California that analyzed their purchases during the increase of the CVB. Study results show that the increased CVB led to significant rises in both the prevalence and dollar amount of fruit and vegetable redemption, benefiting 53 of 54 commodity groups and enhancing dietary diversity for participating households. The policy brief was developed by Catherine Yepez, Christopher Anderson, and Shannon Whaley of PHFE-WIC, a program of Heluna Health, in collaboration with Lauren Au of the University of California, Davis, Department of Nutrition, and Marisa Tsai and Lorrene Ritchie with the Nutrition Policy Institute.

  • Outside interviews NPI’s Hannah Thompson on why cardiovascular fitness is a better predictor of children’s future health than body mass index

    Jun 14, 2024

    Outside interviewed Nutrition Policy Institute researcher and physical activity expert Hannah Thompson for a March 31, 2024 article, “School Fitness Testing Is a Nightmare. Should We Get Rid of It?” In the article, Thompson addresses why cardiovascular fitness is a better predictor of children's future health than body mass index, which is commonly known as BMI. “Even in the ‘overweight' category, BMI is not necessarily predictive of poor metabolic health. Cardiovascular fitness is.” Her interview provided context to recent changes in school fitness testing in California. The California Department of Education suspended student body mass index reporting as part of FITNESSGRAM® data collection in January 2022, citing concerns about mental health, accessibility and gender equity. “PE is not supposed to impact BMI,” said Thompson. “The whole idea of physical education—apart from recess or other physical activity opportunities—is to help younger students build the foundation and skills to go on and be active later in life.”

  • New study explores Maine and California's experiences successfully passing School Meals for All policy

    Jun 13, 2024

    During the first two years of the pandemic, the federal government enacted waivers to allow school meals to be offered to all students at no cost to families. In July 2021, California and Maine became the first states to authorize permanent universal school meals, mandating free school meals to combat food insecurity and improve students' physical and academic health. In this qualitative study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 key stakeholders between December 2021 and June 2022 to explore the factors contributing to the passage of school meals for all legislation in each state. The stakeholders interviewed included policymakers, state agency officials, and advocates. Researchers identified 11 themes from the interviews, including national attention on child hunger, budget surpluses, single-party political control, experienced policymakers, and the context of the ending of pandemic meal waivers. Documenting and sharing lessons from the implementation of universal school meals legislation in California, Maine, and other early adopting states can help inform the potential expansion of access to school meals in other states and nationally. This study was conducted by Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Wendi Gosliner, Kenneth Hecht, Christina Hecht, and Lorrene Ritchie, Amelie Hecht from the University of Wisconisin-Madison, Lindsey Turner from the College of Education, Boise State University, Michele Polacsek from the Center for Excellence in Public Health, University of New England, and Juliana Cohen from the Department of Public Health and Nutrition, Merrimack College.

  • NPR features Nutrition Policy Institute’s collaborative research on letters home from school on childhood obesity

    Jun 13, 2024

    National Public Radio's Shots health news interviewed Nutrition Policy Institute's Hannah Thompson on a 2022 study that showed that letters home from school on childhood obesity had no effect on student weight. The interview was featured in an April 9, 2024 NPR article titled “Arkansas led the nation sending letters home from school about obesity. Did it help?” Thompson is quoted, "It's such a tiny-touch behavioral intervention,” stating that parents don't know what to do with information about their child being overweight. “You find out your child is asthmatic, and you can get an inhaler, right?" Thompson said. "You find out that your child is overweight and where do you even go from there? What do you do?” Thompson and her collaborators' study findings are timely as school districts across the nation, including in California, are eliminating measurement of students' height and weight to calculate and report body mass index, commonly known as BMI, which is used as a proxy for body fat composition to assess for overweight and obesity. This is due to recent scrutiny from the American Medical Association of using BMI alone to assess obesity, given it does not consider differences across racial and ethnic groups, sex, gender and age.

  • Research Brief: School-based physical activity interventions that include policy changes together with improving physical activity opportunities may be the most effective approach for improving student fitness

    Jun 10, 2024

    A new research brief developed by the Nutrition Policy Institute highlights promising school-based CalFresh Healthy Living—California's SNAP-Ed program—physical activity interventions. The study used latent class analysis to describe the predominant combinations of CFHL physical activity interventions implemented in California public schools in partnership with local health departments. Using Fitnessgram data from over 440,000 students in nearly 4,300 schools, the researchers assessed whether intervention combinations were associated with student cardiorespiratory fitness, as measured by V02 max. The study found that students in schools with CFHL interventions focused on establishing or improving wellness policies and increasing opportunities for physical activity had better cardiorespiratory fitness than students in schools without CFHL interventions or in schools with other types of CFHL intervention combinations. The peer-reviewed study was authored by Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Gail Woodward-Lopez, and Wendi Gosliner from the Nutrition Policy Institute, Punam Ohri-Vachaspati and Francesco Acciai from Arizona State University, and John Pugliese from the California Department of Public Health. The research brief was created by NPI's CalFresh Healthy Living Evaluation Unit, including: Summer Cortez, Reka Vasicsek, Miranda Westfall, and Sridharshi Hewawitharana.

  • NPI partners to develop and evaluate a marketing campaign to increase school meal participation

    Jun 6, 2024

    Increasing participation in school meal programs can improve dietary quality and reduce nutrition insecurity. School food service directors have indicated an urgent need for marketing materials encouraging school meal participation. Nutrition Policy Institute will partner with Anna Grummon of Stanford University to develop and evaluate a marketing campaign to increase school meal participation. The evaluation will help to determine the school meal messaging that most resonates with parents. The two-year project, “Developing and evaluating a marketing campaign to increase school-meal participation to improve children's dietary quality and reduce food insecurity,” was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Healthy Eating Research program. The project started in November 2023 and includes NPI's Christina Hecht, Ken Hecht and Reka Vasicsek.

  • New Spanish podcast highlight’s NPI’s 10-year anniversary and Student Fellowship program

    May 30, 2024

    The Nutrition Policy Institute, founded in 2014, is celebrating a decade of impactful research. The latest episode of the Spanish-language podcast, Charla y Café al mediodía, features NPI senior researcher Ron Strochlic discussing the Institute's history and achievements. The podcast highlights NPI's origins at the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Weight and Health and its significant research on sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, the CalFresh Market Match program, and improving access to drinking water in schools and nutritious food in California prisons. Former NPI student fellow, Anna Rios, shared how the NPI Student Fellowship supported her career development. Rios is now a Harvard Medical School-trained neuroscientist. The NPI Student Fellowship, developed in honor of NPI's founding co-director Patricia Crawford, was designed to diversify and bring more equity to the field of public health nutrition, offering a unique mentoring and training experience in applied research. The podcast, produced by Ricardo Vela from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, News and Outreach in Spanish, is available online in both video and audio. In honor of NPI's anniversary, donations to the NPI Student Fellowship are encouraged. Contributions made by June 30, 2024, will be matched up to $10,000 by an anonymous donor.

  • Study reveals parent perceptions of school meals associated with student participation in school meals

    May 27, 2024

    School meals have been shown to be the healthiest source of food for US students on average and have been associated with multiple benefits to students. However, not all students eat school meals, even if they are eligible for free or reduced-price meals based on their family income. This study examined the association between parent perspectives about school meals and student meal participation during the school year 2021-22 in the context of the California Universal School Meals policy. NPI researchers surveyed 1,110 parents of California K-12 students and identified three groups of parental perceptions: positive perceptions (e.g. liking school meals and thinking that they are tasty and healthy), perceived benefits to families (e.g. school meals save families money, time, and stress), and negative perceptions (e.g. concerns about the amount of sugar in school meals and stigma). More positive parental perceptions about school meals and their benefits to families were associated with greater student meal participation, while more negative parental perceptions were associated with reduced student participation in school meals. Overall, study results emphasize that parent perceptions of school meals may affect student participation in school meal programs and that effective communication with parents to ensure parents are familiar with the healthfulness and quality of school meals may be critical for increasing meal participation rates.  A podcast interview with researcher Monica Zuercher and a press release were published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, further explaining the research study findings. The research study was led by NPI researchers Monica Zuercher,  Christina Hecht, Kenneth Hecht, Dania Orta-Aleman, Anisha Patel, Lorrene Ritchie, and Wendi Gosliner, as well as researchers Juliana Cohen, Deborah Olarte, and Leah Chapman with Merrimack College, Margaret Read with Partnership for a Healthier America, and Marlene Schwartz with the University of Connecticut.

  • New video in Spanish celebrates NPI’s ten-year anniversary

    May 24, 2024

    The Nutrition Policy Institute, founded in 2014, is celebrating ten years of high-impact research. A new video in Spanish highlight's NPI's accomplishments and contributions to public health in California related to universal school meals, improving the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (commonly known as WIC), provide fresh food in correctional facilities, improving quality and access to drinking water in schools and child care, and promoting access to fresh produce for families in need by promoting CalFresh (nationally known as SNAP) benefit use at farmers Markets. The video also highlight's the NPI Student Fellowship which aims to foster diversity in the next generation of public health nutrition leaders. The Spanish video description is below:

    UC ANR y NPI Celebran una década de impacto en la comunidad

    Únete a nosotros para celebrar una década de logros del Instituto de Políticas de Nutrición (NPI). Descubre cómo nuestras iniciativas han transformado la salud pública en California:

    • Comidas Escolares para Todos: Asegurando que cada niño tenga acceso a comidas nutritivas en la escuela.
    • Mejoras al Programa WIC: Optimizando el apoyo nutricional para mujeres y niños de bajos ingresos.
    • De la Granja a las Correccionales: Proporcionando alimentos frescos en instalaciones correccionales.
    • Beca Estudiantil NPI: Fomentando la próxima generación de líderes en nutrición pública.
    • Agua Potable en Escuelas: Garantizando la calidad del agua para una mejor salud infantil.
    • Beneficios de CalFresh en Mercados de Agricultores: Promoviendo el acceso a productos frescos para familias necesitadas.

    Tu apoyo es fundamental para continuar nuestra misión. Contribuye hoy y ayúdanos a seguir mejorando la nutrición en California. 

    The video, developed by the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resource's News and Outreach in Spanish, and a complementary news story, "Instituto de Políticas de Nutrición: 10 años de hacer que las opciones saludables sean más accesibles para todos," are available online.

  • NPI welcomes Elsa Esparza as new project policy analyst

    May 20, 2024

    Elsa Esparza joined the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources on March 18, 2024 as a part-time project policy analyst. Elsa is a registered dietitian and received her master's degree in public health from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. She previously worked with NPI in 2019 as a UC Global Food Initiative graduate student fellow. In addition to her current role at NPI, Elsa serves as the program director for the new Dietetic Internship at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Elsa is eager to contribute to research that will inform policies aimed at eliminating health disparities, especially among early childhood populations. She is also passionate about mentoring students who aspire to pursue careers in public health nutrition. Elsa has worked in many settings where public health nutrition is at the forefront, ranging from a federally qualified health center, an anti-hunger advocacy non-profit, a research institution, a family foundation, and now at the University of California. In her role at NPI, Elsa will serve as a co-project manager for the California School Meals for All evaluation.

  • NPI celebrates a decade of high-impact research

    May 15, 2024

    The Nutrition Policy Institute was established 10 years ago to address the growing nutrition problems in the U.S., where 1 in 6 families lack consistent access to food and more suffer from a nutrition-related chronic condition than do not. Our talented team remains steadfast in our vision to ensure access to nutritious food, beverages and opportunities for physical activity for all through conducting and translating policy-relevant research. To mark our 10-year anniversary, we'd like to share some of our key achievements.

    • School Meals for All - We have been dedicated to evaluating the impacts of every child, regardless of their background, having access to nutritious meals at school. Our efforts have helped to establish comprehensive school meal programs in our state. California became the first state in the nation to adopt school breakfast and lunch at no charge, providing access to better nutrition for over 6 million K-12 students annually.

    • Enhancements to the WIC Program - We have worked to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children which provides food and nutrition counseling for low income pregnant women and children.  By streamlining processes and expanding outreach, WIC services have improved. Over one million women and children receive WIC benefits annually in California – reaching nearly half of all children born in the state.
    • Farm to Corrections Program - One of our innovative initiatives, involving the Farm to Corrections Program, connects correctional facilities with local farms, thus promoting more fresh fruits and vegetables for incarcerated individuals while supporting local agriculture. Within the next 2 years, all 33 of California's adult facilities will be enrolled in the Farm to Corrections Program.

    We couldn't have achieved all this without our dedicated team, collaborators and funders. Special thanks also go to our past and current students, whose passion for positive change fuels our work. To continue this legacy, we established the NPI Student Fellowship in 2019 to increase diversity in the public health nutrition workforce and to honor our founding co-director, Pat Crawford. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we are pleased to announce a matching gift of up to $10,000 to support the NPI Student Fellowship. Any donation made between May and June 2024 will be doubled. A gift of any size will be appreciated and you can make your gift online. Your contribution will empower the next generation of nutrition research to policy leaders to continue our work toward healthier, more equitable communities. Read more about our impact over the last 10 years in this UC ANR news story—also available in Spanish—written by Mike Hsu. Watch this video in English or Spanish to learn about the history of the Fellowship and hear from students about their experiences.