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Increasing Health Equity

Project #1: Schools as Hubs of Health

Additional funding secured for local research and education (during review period): >$2.7 million

Funding secured for program expansion to other communities: $1.2 million

Impact:  This project contributed to the following condition change: improved health for all. These measured outcomes (documented in the table below) demonstrated knowledge and skills learned, which led to the adoption of healthy behaviors. Additionally, the measured outcomes demonstrated that decision-makers, educators, and practitioners also gained new knowledge and skills, which led to districtwide, school, and organizational policy, systems, and environmental changes that created more opportunities for students and families to make healthy behavior changes. These changes led to a reduction in youth participants’ BMI, which is positively correlated with increased health and fiscal savings. In the USA, obesity increases annual medical care costs over $3,400/individual (Cawley, et al 2015; Biener, et al 2017), so interventions that result in a significant decrease in BMI (such as the SHC program discussed above) can reduce annual health care costs. So, for the 138 youth that had significant reductions in BMI, this program could save a combined $28 million dollars over their lifetimes. As these program models, which have received Federal funding for multi-state implementation, there is great potential for increased fiscal savings and increased health. Collectively, these efforts contribute to the UC ANR public value: promoting healthy people and communities.



Support, Source & Duration

Outputs and Outcomes

UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program:Served as local PI and provided academic oversight & guidance; conducted program evaluation

·  4-H YDP, SLO/SB

·  SB County Public Health

·  4 Local School Districts

·  Santa Maria Parks & Rec

·  LiveWell SB


·  SLO County Food Systems Coalition

·  Food Bank, SB

·  Dignity Health

·  MG, SLO


Increased annual UC CalFresh grant award by $692,000, providing an estimated, additional $2.7 millionto the local program during the review period.


10/2015 – 09/2019


Funding Source:

USDA/Food and Nutrition Service; CA Depart of Social Services, CalFresh; and UC Davis

·       Increased student, parent, and educator consumption of healthy foods and beverages

·       Increased students’ physical activity

·       Created sustainable, evidence-based environmental changes that support wellness in school communities (i.e. hydration stations)

·       Improved school wellness policy changes at the school and districtwide levels (>22 schools)

·       Supported 150+ educators annually in providing >4,000 hours of nutrition education and physical activity services

·       Provided technical assistance and evidence-based research to support a Safe Route to School plan that was approved by City Council.

·       Research demonstrates that these outcomes are associated with reductions in obesity, increases in physical activity, and improvements in nutritional behaviors.

CA 4-H Mindfulness Project:

Served as co-PI; conducted local research

·  UC ANR Statewide 4-H YDP Office

·  4-H Statewide Academic Coordinators

No additional local funding


07/2014 – Ongoing

·       National Pilot of Mindful Me: Short-term outcomes were measured with paired pre and post assessments (completed by teachers for primary youth, self-report for teens). Statistical analysis revealed that primary youth experienced significant increase in each of 13 components measured in the instrument.

·       Teachers who taught mindfulness reported that beyond supporting their students’ development, leadings the lessons also helped them learn about mindfulness practices, which they incorporated into their own lives.

·       Expected outcomes from youth participation in the curricula include short term (skill development), midterm (increased stress management, mindful eating, etc.), and long term (improved physical, emotional, and social health) outcomes.

Shaping Healthy Choice Pilot Program:

Served as a research collaborator; provided local academic oversight and guidance

·  UC CalFresh

·  UC Davis Center for Nutrition in Schools

·  Local School District

No additional local funding


10/2015 – 06/2017


Travel support for staff training provided by UC Davis Center for Nutrition in Schools

As a result of participating in the Shaping Healthy Choices Program, participants demonstrated (paired pre and post assessments) statistically significant:

·       Increased nutrition knowledge

·       Increased vegetable identification

·       Reduced BMI

Smarter Lunchrooms Movement:

Provided local academic oversight and guidance; conducted program evaluation

·  UC CalFresh Nutrition Education

·  Cornell University

·  4 Local School Districts

·  UC Davis Center for Nutrition in Schools

No additional local funding


10/2015 – Ongoing


·       Trained front line cafeteria staff and students to promote school food

·       Implemented regular student surveys to assess attitudes and preferences for menu items tasted in the cafeteria.

·       Integrated youth engagement and leadership in 5 school cafeterias

·       Saw significant improvements in scorecard results


THRIVE! Santa Maria, Healthy School Pantry:

Provided local academic oversight and guidance; conducted program evaluation

·  UC CalFresh Nutrition Education

·  4-H YDP, SB

·  THRIVE! Santa Maria

·  Local School District

No additional local funding


10/2015 – Ongoing


·       Coordinate food demonstration recipes with the food families received in the distribution.

·       4-H SNAC Club student leaders often participate in the recipe preparation and education with families about nutrition.

·       Engages 200 families each month through direct education and one-on-one conversations with parents and indirect education including sampling and receiving a healthy recipe that they can make at home with the food provided.

·       Closes the communication loop with youth and their families and to reinforce the health messaging delivered during the school day with families.

Food Smart Families:

Served as local PI and provided academic oversight & guidance;  conducted program evaluation

·  UC CalFresh Nutrition Education

·  4-H YDP, SB

·  THRIVE! Santa Maria

·  Santa Maria-Bonita School District



Service Value:



01/2016 – 05/2016


Funding Source:

National 4-H Council

·       Led to the development of 4-H SNAC Clubs and youth education model

·       Reached more than 2,300 youth from low-income families

·       Chartered 3 new in-school 4-H clubs with 1,696 members group enrolled and 47 youth members individually enrolled.

·       Students led peer-to-peer education at neighboring schools.

·       Students taught families and individuals in the community about shopping for healthy foods on a limited budget.

School Salad

Bar Video Project:

Provided local academic oversight and guidance; conducted program evaluation

·  UC CalFresh Nutrition Education


·  Adam Elementary School

·  LaFreniere Videography



02/2016 – 05/2016


Funding Source:

Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs, Smarter Lunchrooms Movement; eXtension

·       Video has been shown to 3,600 students and 100 staff at 4 schools in the Santa Maria Bonita School District, and 25 local decision-makers at the District School Board meeting

·       The video has been used at schoolwide assemblies, K-6 classrooms, and promoted nationwide through the eXtension website, as well as through numerous mass media and social media sites (e.g. Cornell Cooperative Extension, Colorado Department of Education’s Office of School Nutrition, UC ANR Food Blog)

·       Increased administrator (at the district and county levels, as well as throughout Extension) support for including youth engagement strategies in nutrition education.

·       Student leaders are now recognized as an important part of school wellness and are being invited to participate in schoolwide events.

Feasibility for Teachers to Implement the Shaping Healthy Choices Program:

Served as co-PI; provided local academic oversight and guidance; conducted program evaluation

·  Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, PI

·  Jessica Linnell & Shannon Klisch

·  4 local schools

No additional local funding


09/2016 – 06/2017


·       Participating youth, regardless of treatment group, improved nutrition knowledge from pre to post with no significant differences between groups

·       This study underscored a common theme in the literature that while extender models for nutrition education would be of value, there are barriers to teacher implementation.

·       While the number of teachers implementing the SHCP as extenders initially increased, the subsequent decline and teacher feedback revealed the implementation is too demanding.

4-H Student Nutrition Advisory Council

(4-H SNAC) Clubs:

Provided academic oversight and guidance; conducted program evaluation



co-PI; technical assistance; local academic oversight;

program evaluation







·  UC CalFresh Nutrition Education

·  4-H YDP, SB/SLO

·  2 Local School Districts




·  Anne Iaccopucci, PI

·  CA State 4-H Office

·  4-H YDP, SL0

·  Nevada 4-H

·  Central Sierra. MFP 4-H









10/2016 – Ongoing


Funding Source: 4-H Statewide Program; Local 4-H Program (since 7/2018)  


$1.2 million


09/2019 – 08/2024


Funding Source:


Children, Youth, and Families At-Risk

Enhanced youth engagement efforts focused on creating systems and environmental changes to support wellness in their school communities.

As a result of participation, 4-H SNAC Club student leaders reported:

·       improved individual nutrition outcomes (i.e. eating less junk food, drinking less soda, drinking more water)

·       improved family nutrition outcomes (i.e. family purchasing healthier foods, preparing healthier foods)

·       positive youth development outcomes (i.e. making a positive difference in my community; acting as a mentor)

·       learning new culinary skills (i.e. chopping vegetables with a knife, preparing a healthy snack).


Youth had statistically significance increases in leadership skills (i.e. leading groups, public speaking).


Program was selected for funding from USDA for expansion and implementation in new communities.

UC Garden Nutrition Extenders


Provided academic oversight and guidance; conducted program evaluation


·  UC CalFresh Nutrition

·  4-H YDP,      SLO & SB

·  UC Master Gardeners

·  UC Master Food Preservers

·  California School Garden Training Program

·  California School Garden Network

No additional local funding


Service Value:



10/2017 – Ongoing


·       Supported the building, reinvigoration, and/or maintenance of 12 school/community gardens

·       Increased adult volunteer programming focused on creating and sustaining school gardens.

·       Provided regular opportunities to spend time outdoors, learn about nutrition, and grow food.

·       Supported farm to fork connections between the garden and the cafeteria.

·       Incorporated garden lessons at all grade levels

·       Increase teacher familiarity and excitement with their school garden

·       Provided outdoor classroom management training and demonstrated the instructional benefits of teaching outdoors

Preceptor  – Cal Poly, SLO Dietetics Internship Program

Provided academic guidance

·  UC CalFresh Nutrition Education

·  UC Master Food Preservers

·  Cal Poly Dietetics

No additional local funding


10/2017 – Ongoing


·       Supported and evaluated 5 interns in completing their rotations.

·       Produced new trainings for staff and volunteers.

·       Increased interns’ knowledge of CE programs and engaging schools, communities, and students to improve community health outcomes

Engaging College Students to Improve the Health of California’s Youth


If funded, will serve as co-PI; provide local academic oversight; and technical assistance

·  UC Davis Center for Nutrition in Schools

·  CalPoly, SLO

Proposals Under Review:

$1.4 million


If funded:

7/2020 – 6/2025


Funding Source:


Research & Extension Exp. for Undergrads; USDA/NIFA AFRI Applied Science Program

Anticipated Outcomes for youth:

·       Increased nutrition knowledge

·       Enhanced overall dietary patterns and increase fruit and vegetable intake

·       Increased adolescent cooking skill self-efficacy, self-efficacy to teach nutrition, civic engagement, and motivation to attend college

·       Improved BMI percentiles

Anticipated Outcomes for college interns:

·       Improved curriculum facilitation and evaluation skills

·       Increased competence in nutrition and agriculture research

The long-term goal: Prevent chronic diseases in adulthood through the attainment of food literacy and improvements to dietary patterns in youth.

Project #2: Increasing Community Health

Additional funding secured for local research and education (during review period): $32,578

Impact: This project contributed to the following condition change: improved access to positive built and natural environments. These measured and anticipated outcomes (documented in the table below) demonstrate knowledge and skills learned, which led to adoption of behaviors that can improve community wellbeing. Additionally, as educators and practitioners also gain new knowledge and skills, we anticipate improved policies, systems, and environments, which will create more opportunities to spend time outdoors, reduce community exposure to pesticides, and increase access to clean drinking water. In this way, this project improves access to positive built environments, green spaces, and the outdoors for people and communities. As these efforts continue, we anticipate impacts will support community wellness across California and beyond. Collectively these efforts contribute to the UC ANR public value: promoting healthy people and communities.



Support, Source & Duration


4-H SLO Hikers:

Provided academic oversight and guidance

·  Lopez Lake Ranger Staff

·  SLO City Parks & Recreation Department

No additional local funding


06/2013 – 06/2016


·       Increased youth participation in community-based physical activity

·       Increased participation in family physical activity

·       Supported service projects to help protect parks and open space


Agua Pura:

Served as PI; provided academic oversight and guidance

·  4-H YDP, SB




07/2013 – 06/2018


Funding Source:

SB County Public Works Department

·       Engaged >1,200 individuals annually in this bilingual (English/Spanish) watershed educational outreach program

·       Raised awareness of how individuals’ actions can affect local water quality. 

·       Increased participants’ understanding of their environments

Healthy Beverages in Childcare: Putting Policy into Practice:

Served a co-PI; provided oversight to local research

·  Lorrene Ritchie, Nutrition Policy Institute

·  Karina Diaz Rios, UCCE Specialist

·  Marisa Neelon, NFCS Advisor

·  University of California San Francisco

·  Dayna Ravalin, RD

·  Local Childcare providers

·  Community Childcare Advisors

Local Grant Award: $16,578


04/2016 –Ongoing


Funding Source:

UC ANR Competitive Grant Award

·       To develop, pilot-test, and evaluate the utility and sustainability of a standardized, online training for licensed providers (including childcare centers and family daycare homes both participating or not in CACFP) on ways to create and maintain a healthy beverage environment for children 2+ years old in childcare [completed].

·       To provide education and technical assistance (TA) on the need for and importance of this training through Cooperative Extension academics [completed].

·       To convene childcare stakeholders, including partners at the USDA, the state, and the Childcare Food Program Roundtable, to review study findings, identify policy solutions and further research needs, and disseminate results to inform training in California and in other states on the upcoming federal nutrition standards.

UC Master Gardener Program, in San Luis Obispo & Santa BarbaraCounties:

I served as PI, and provided local academic oversight and guidance

·  UC Master Gardener Statewide Program

·  Program Coordinator

·  Program Volunteers

No additional local funding


07/2017 – 06/2018

UC Master Gardener Program in SLO County offered residents free monthly “Advice to Grow By” workshops in the Master Gardener demonstration garden. As a result, participants (n=593) reported:

·       Choosing low water use plants (100%)

·       Installed or improved drip irrigation (80%)

·       Reducing turf areas in their yard (40%)

·       Improved their pest monitoring practices and reduced their overall use of pesticides (72%)

·       Avoided planting or have removed invasive plants from their yards (64%)

Workshop participants also reported additional benefits including an increase in edible gardening, increased donations to the local food bank, and more time spent gardening and outdoors in general.

Factors that Influence Management Practices to Conserve Resources and Increase Climate-SmartPractices:

Served as co-PI

·  Maggie Reiter, PI

·  Recreational Managers

·  Matthew Barnes, University of MN

No additional local funding


07/2018 – Ongoing


Research Objectives:

·       Promote community health and wellness through improved land management practices

·       Increase understanding of land managers’ successes, concerns, and motivation to increase naturalized areas

·       Increase understanding of how community members can access private greenspaces to increase time spent outdoors and promote physical activity

·       Develop educational materials that address research findings to support conversion of turf into naturalized areas