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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. The full report is available upon request, please email Wendi Gosliner.



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