UC Food Blog
Which end of an asparagus do you eat? I am not going to eat that, it's too spicy! Pink milk cartons (non-fat) are only for girls.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources's UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties (UC CalFresh) was initiated in the 2014/2015 school year to work on increasing the likelihood that students will select and consume vegetables offered through the school meal program.
The collaboration included three components: monthly, school-wide seasonal produce tastings facilitated by UC CalFresh and supported by the school district; Smarter Lunchroom Movement strategies implemented by district food service staff with support from UC CalFresh; and classroom nutrition education with curricula provided by UC CalFresh and implemented by participating classroom teachers.
The monthly produce tastings were a coordinated effort between the UC CalFresh Nutrition Educators, student leaders from the Student Nutrition Advisory Council, and Cafeteria staff. The first goal was to familiarize the students in the five elementary schools with local, seasonal vegetables – and eventually get them on the school menu and on students' plates. During the months of March, April and May of 2015 more than 4,000 students at five participating schools
Student leaders participated in all aspects of the monthly tastings, from advising on what produce items to sample, to making signs advertising the featured produce, to handing out the samples to their peers. The voting results were overwhelmingly positive with a majority of students in favor of putting Brussels sprouts, asparagus and yellow bell peppers on the school menu. As a result of these findings, and the students' enthusiasm for trying new things, food service staff are working on incorporating a Brussels sprouts salad into their regular menu.
The second component included Smarter Lunchroom Movement (SLM) strategies from the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics. These strategies were introduced at a cafeteria manager training facilitated by UC CalFresh. At the training, district staff were introduced to SLM concepts and encouraged to identify two changes they wanted to implement in their
Students, at first surprised seeing adults eating school meals, welcomed the nutrition educators to their tables. Staff took the opportunity to talk to the students about their food, model healthy food habits and dispel myths about their food. Myths included things like pink milk cartons (non-fat) were only for girls and school lunches are unhealthy. By the end of the school year, all participating schools had improved their scores on the Smarter Lunchroom Self-Assessment Scorecard and plans are currently being developed to provide districtwide cafeteria branding.
The third component was the in-class curricula. Classroom curricula has been the primary focus of the UC CalFresh program for many years. UC CalFresh provides “No-Prep Nutrition Education Kits” and in class food demonstrations to enrolled teachers (Educator Extenders). These Educator Extenders teach evidence-based nutrition education lessons based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This year, as the collaboration with the school cafeteria developed, UC CalFresh staff rolled out the concept of Harvest of the Month mini kits and farm stands to coincide with the produce item being featured in the monthly cafeteria tastings. Educator Extenders had the
This collaborative effort has brought about many opportunities to educate, expose and inform students and staff about local produce and how delicious it can be in their school lunches. Students who once thought that sweet yellow, green and red bell peppers were too spicy had the opportunity to sample them and see for themselves. Students who did not know which end to eat an asparagus from got to sample it and then vote on whether or not they wanted to try it again. Food service staff also got to see how excited their students were to sample new items, including Brussels sprouts, and have a voice in their school menu.
For more pictures, visit the UC CalFresh Facebook page.
An initiative to maintain and enhance healthy families and communities is part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.
It was the first time a UC president has taken part in the long-running and nationally recognized gathering, noted the director of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), Lorrene Ritchie.
“I think it demonstrates her commitment to the Global Food Initiative and the work we do at UC ANR,” Ritchie said.
During her remarks, Napolitano said it was fitting for her to speak at the conference as it coincided with the one-year anniversary of the Global Food Initiative, a sweeping effort involving all UC campuses and UC ANR that was inspired by many of the same concerns addressed by conference participants.
“As we meet here in San Diego today, a billion people — most but not all of them in the developing world — suffer from chronic hunger or serious micronutrient deficiencies,” Napolitano said. “Another half billion — primarily in the industrialized nations of the world, like the United States — suffer from obesity.”
Since the biennial conference's inception, Patricia Crawford, UC ANR Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist, and other members of NPI have been involved in its planning. Crawford announced she is “passing the baton” to Ritchie to guide the conference moving forward.
More than 1,700 nutritionists and other experts on children's health attended the San Diego gathering June 29 – July 2. In addition to the NPI, the conference was hosted by the California Department of Public Health, California Department of Education, the California Endowment and Kaiser Permanente.
NPI hosted a preconference workshop on June 29 to bridge the gap between research and policy regarding the federal nutrition assistance programs and the Dietary Guidelines, which reach more Americans than any other nutrition policy.
“The preconference session provided a rare opportunity for policymakers and administrators, nutrition researchers, advocates, and funders to sit together to identify today's key policy issues and propose research to inform future policy debates and developments,” said Kenneth Hecht, NPI director of policy. “Participants also focused on another extremely important question: How to improve communications in both directions between researchers and policymakers.”
“Childhood obesity is a national security challenge. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said that very clearly in 2013,” Clinton said. “In New York City, where I live, the New York City Fire Department and Police Department have said they are worried they won't be able recruit enough people to fill their ranks if obesity rates continue.”
To help address the problem, the Clinton Foundation along with the American Heart Association established the Alliance for a Healthier Generation 10 years ago. Because of the program, nearly 300 California schools have made changes significantly reducing overweight among children.
During a workshop session, NPI's Ritchie and other panelists discussed the importance of policies and standards for healthy alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages for children in childcare settings. Crawford and other panelists presented data on childhood obesity trends and racial/ethnic disparities in California and discussed the health and financial consequences. They also addressed the cost-effectiveness of national and state excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and labels to inform consumers of the health risks of consuming sugary drinks.
Hecht also moderated a panel on local and national initiatives that are linking farm fresh produce to food bank recipients. NPI researcher Elizabeth Campbell, who participated in the discussion with a local farmer, a food bank employee and a public health anti-hunger advocate, said food banks should have policies to guide the nutritional quality of their inventory.
During the closing plenary, First Lady Michelle Obama sent video greetings to the Childhood Obesity Conference attendees to praise them for their work and encourage them to continue to fight to protect children's health.
“This meeting will feature speakers from multiple states outlining approaches to improve the efficiency and success of beef cattle reproduction,” said Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis.
“One particularly timely talk is that of Dr. Eric Scholljegerdes from New Mexico State University titled “Drought: Devastating natural event or a wakeup call for better cattle management,” said Van Eenennaam, who is also affiliated with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The program will include six general sessions covering a variety of topics, from physiology to genetics to management, and will present the latest information on reproductive technologies in beef cattle. The current program can be viewed online at http://www.appliedreprostrategies.com.
Key goals of the Beef Reproduction Task Force include promoting widespread adoption of reproductive technologies among cow-calf producers, educating producers in management considerations that will increase the likelihood of successful breeding of animals through artificial insemination and educating producers about marketing options to capture benefits that result from use of improved reproductive techniques.
The two-day conference will take place at the UC Davis Conference Center on campus.
The annual Beef Reproduction Task Force event is held in a different location every year. This is the first time that it will be in California and hosted by the UC Davis Department of Animal Science. The task force is a multi-state extension activity in cooperation with the North Central Agricultural and Natural Resources Program Leaders Committee and the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.
To register for the 2015 Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Symposium, visit http://www.cevs.ucdavis.edu/confreg/?confid=757. For additional information, visit the conference website at http://www.appliedreprostrategies.com or contact Alison Van Eenennaam at email@example.com or (530) 752-7942.
There are very few bays in Northern California that can support the recreational harvest of large clams, such as gapers (Tresus sp.) and butter clams (Saxidomus sp.), two of these are Humboldt and Tomales bays.
These days, during a big low tide, you might just find Melissa Partyka and Ronny Bond walking the muddy tidal flats of Tomales Bay, with their dog Lady Jane by their side, in search of clams. Partyka, a staff researcher and doctoral candidate in the Graduate Group of Ecology at UC Davis, and Bond, a water quality researcher and the field research manager, are both in the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Vet Med Extension Water and Foodborne Zoonotic Disease Laboratory, with the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security.
They are interested in studying communities of bacteria associated with the clams on these tidal flats. They are focusing on vibrios, a type of bacteria which have caused a growing number of illnesses over the last 10 years, particularly from consumption of undercooked seafood. One of these bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, has led to multiple instances of wound infection and amputation in the Gulf of Mexico, while another, V. parahaemolyticus, is the leading cause of gastroenteritis (stomach flu) from shellfish consumption. Partyka and Bond are trying to quantify the exposure of recreational clammers to vibrios in the sediment during clamming activity. Exposure may cause illness through wound infection, ingestion of sediments during collection (people get covered in mud), and contamination of equipment and food preparation surfaces back home (or at the campsite).
While there have been no reported cases of V. vulnificus infection in Northern California clammers, this bacterium has been isolated from intertidal flats in both Humboldt and Tomales bays. V. parahaemolyticus is found much more frequently and was responsible for cases of foodborne illness in consumers of local oysters a few years back. Though this doesn't mean that clammers need to be concerned, Partyka does suggest caution when out on the flats.
"Like all things pulled from the mud, clams are covered in bacteria, which means clammers are covered in bacteria," Partyka said. "It's a good idea to wash your hands and equipment well before preparing your clams and to clean and dress any wounds you get when out digging.”
Partyka knows from experience what a V. vulnifius infection feels like. A small barnacle cut on her pinky turned her finger into a sausage in a matter of days.
“People with healthy immune systems shouldn't have a problem” Partyka said, but young children and anyone with compromised health should keep a close watch on those cuts and seek out medical attention if swelling occurs.
Enjoy your summer clamming excursions and keep in mind the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services food safety tips when it's time to cook those clams. Wash hands and surfaces often, don't cross contaminate, cook to the right temperature and refrigerate promptly. And keep an eye out for Bond, Partyka and Lady Jane on the muddy flats of the bay.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) has found a way to help low-income families successfully stretch their food dollars and eat healthier while receiving food assistance.
The curriculum, called “Plan, Shop, Save & Cook,” was adapted for UC CalFresh nutrition education by UC ANR Cooperative Extension academics. The program, offered in 31 California counties, is proven to help recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) eat healthier and avoid running out of food by the end of the month. In California, SNAP is known as CalFresh.
The proof stems from an analysis of pre- and post-program surveys of nearly 4,000 adults who completed the four-part “Plan, Shop, Save & Cook” course. Researchers concluded that food assistance combined with nutrition and resource management education reduces food insecurity in low-income families. The results were published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
Plan, Shop, Save & Cook was implemented in California in 2011. From 2011 to 2013, educators in 15 counties asked participants to fill out a brief survey before and one month after completing the four-week course. The survey aimed to determine whether they were using key strategies shared in the classes, including planning meals, using a shopping list, comparing prices, reading labels, thinking about healthy choices and eating varied meals.
“We confirmed that our program helps educate and motivate participants, leading to healthier eating,” said Lucia Kaiser, UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist based in the Department of Nutrition at UC Davis. “Increasing resource management skills – the ability shop smart and read food labels – is important to reducing food insecurity.”
Kaiser, the study's lead author, also pointed out that receiving the supplemental food benefits is a critical factor in addressing food insecurity.
“Families need SNAP and access to healthy foods in their neighborhoods,” Kaiser said. “The people in our study who were receiving food assistance were eating the best. It's really important to help eligible people get enrolled and receive food assistance.”
In the United States, 14.5 percent of households are “food insecure” – they don't have access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Among those below the income eligibility cutoff for SNAP, the percentage of food insecure households is considerably higher. Food insecurity has been associated with inadequate nutrient intake, poor mental and physical health, substandard economic performance, increased risk of chronic disease, poor psychological cognitive function and obesity.
“It may seem counter-intuitive, but research has shown that body mass index is greater in households with lower socio-economic status,” Kaiser said. “Food insecurity and obesity may coexist because the least expensive foods are often lowest in nutrients and highest in calories, and in low income areas, healthy food is not always available.”
A higher level of food assistance benefits may allow families to purchase more fruits, vegetables, whole grain products and lean dairy and protein foods. Effective education also contributes to these healthy eating habits. The Plan, Shop, Save & Cook classes are offered to small groups of adults in community settings and include skill-building activities, such as writing a menu and comparing it to dietary recommendations. Participants taste low-cost healthy foods and receive recipes to try at home.
For more information about Plan, Shop, Save & Shop contact a county UC ANR Cooperative Extension office.
An initiative to maintain and enhance healthy families and communities is part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.