Beginning in 2015, we implemented a “Schools as Hubs of Health” model of comprehensive nutrition education program delivery in SLO & SB Counties. Utilizing a socio-ecological framework, our local programming focuses on developing sustained engagement with partnering school districts, administrators, teachers, families, and other community-based organizations. The majority of our direct education occurred at schools within the Santa Maria Bonita School District with a predominantly (93%) Latino youth population, the majority (75%) are English Learners, and 90% of youth qualify for free or reduced cost meals. Primary goals of comprehensive school-based programming are: 1) Increase student consumption of healthy food and beverages, 2) Increase student physical activity, and 3) Create sustainable, evidence-based environmental changes that support wellness in surrounding school communities. The components of the Schools as Hubs model includes direct education, improved social and community norms, and support for policy, systems and environmental changes. The Schools as Hubs of Health was implemented at 4 targeted school sites in SB County and one in SLO County, intentionally engaging schools that serve predominately low-income Latino students. This program reached >4,000 students annually in more than 150 classrooms. Annually adult extenders and youth volunteers provide over 5,500 hours of nutrition education delivery in these school and educate an additional >3,000 community members at community events. Highlighted project outputs & outcomes include:
- A statistically significant decrease inbody mass index (BMI) percentile was observed in youth participants (n=138).
- Supported the buildingor reinvigoration 12 school and community gardens, providing opportunities for youth to spend time outdoors, learn about nutrition, and grow food.
- Documented statistically significant positive youth development outcomes (n=59) from participation, including public speaking, program planning, and teaching others.
- Documented improved policy changes at the school and districtwide levels (>22 schools).
- Secured a $1.2 million, multi-state grant from USDA/NIFA to expand our program into other communities with the CA State 4-H office.