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UC CalFresh Fresno helps transform challenge into change

The Issue

Poverty combined with high unemployment rates can be a recipe for disaster. Entire families become engulfed in crisis. Rescue the Children (Rescue), a ministry of the Fresno Rescue Mission, is a nonprofit that transforms lives lost to drug or alcohol addiction and assists homeless families and previously incarcerated women. Rescue provides an in-house rehabilitation and transition program. Priscilla Robbins oversees the program and noted the importance of including a nutrition and healthy living component.

What Has ANR Done?

For the past 5 years, UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Fresno County has been providing Rescue the Children residents with adult nutrition education classes using the Plan, Shop, Save and Cook (PSSC) curricula. During a class in April 2017, UC CalFresh staff mentioned how Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can be used to purchase vegetable plants for a home garden. This spurred a lively conversation surrounding the advantages of growing your own fruit and vegetables. A garden area behind the facility had been dormant for many years with sporadic support from volunteers. Stimulated by resident's interest, garden revitalization plans began to develop that could be sustained through residential efforts.

The Payoff

UC CalFresh and Master Gardeners partnered to reach 135 women and their children

In Federal Fiscal Year 2016 and 2017, 135 women completed the PSSC lesson series and graduated with a certificate of accomplishment. UC CalFresh coordinated with UC Master Gardeners to lead garden enhanced lesson delivery for five weeks leading up to the residents and their children planting five dormant garden beds at the facility. Additionally, UC CalFresh helped secure donations from Anthem Blue Cross, Jain Irrigation Inc., and Agri-Valley Irrigation, Inc. Garden resource books were donated to Rescue’s library. The benefits abound: food sourced in the garden is served at meal time; food waste is composted; children staying with their mothers regularly participate in the garden and are exposed to Nutrition Corner in the dining hall. Children attending nearby Addams Elementary receive additional UC CalFresh lessons at school, reinforcing key messages. Ultimately, the garden and lessons have become not only a source of food but a way to create connections between residents and their children, empowering them as they work together to build confidence, hope, and a new beginning.

Clientele Testimonial

"I have started making healthy food choices. I also plan to, once I go home, to practice all that I've learned about food prices and MyPlate. I can't wait to use the great healthy recipes I learned while taking this course." Course participant


Karina Macias, MPH, Nutrition Program Manager, UC CalFresh Fresno, karmacias@ucanr.edu;
Kristi Schultz-Sharp, UC CalFresh Supervisor & Garden Lead, knschultzsharp@ucanr.edu;
Nancy Zumkeller, UC CalFresh Coordinator, nzumkeller@ucanr.edu;
Andra Nicoli, MA, UC CalFresh State Office,