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UC Calfresh Kings County engages students, teachers, and parents to make healthful choices

The Issue

One of the main avenues that schools can use to positively affect health is empowering students, teachers, and parents with nutrition knowledge and skills while providing opportunities for physical activity. However, poor eating habits and lack of exercise are major concerns among youth and adult populations in Kings County. Lack of knowledge and skills to make healthy food choices compounds the issue. Additionally, according to the SNAP-Ed work plan for the County, of the 65 schools located in the county, 83% are SNAP-Ed eligible (> 50% of students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals, FRPM, enrollment) and almost 68% of students are eligible for FRPM. Powered with this knowledge, key community stakeholders came together to create nutrition awareness and physical activity opportunities in schools where a high percentage of students participate in FRPM programs.

What Has ANR Done?

The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program and the Hanford Elementary School District READY Program have been collaborating for over four years. Nutrition education has been an important component of the program for students, teachers, and parents. During FY2017, nutrition educators mentored student tutors and provided technical assistance for teachers to teach nutrition and physical activity lessons, including, a “Yummy Curriculum-Serving Up MyPlate”, “Eat Fit”, “Choose Health, Food, Fun and Fitness”, and “CATCH”. After school tutors created a Chef’s Club where students make a healthy meal or snack and do taste tests. As part of the collaboration, the district office schedule after school visits for the entire school year. Each class participates in nutrition classes with the UC team twice a year, and students have come to recognize the UC CalFresh nutrition educators, referring to them as “healthy ladies" and "nutrition ladies.” Additionally, nutrition educators engaged youth to create murals and nutrition corners and implemented series-based nutrition classes and mini-workshops for parents. During the remainder of the year, the tutors continued nutrition lessons using evidence-based curricula.

The Payoff

UC CalFresh in Kings County reached 818 students, 9 school sites, and 113 teachers

Approximately, 818 students are enrolled and reached through the READY After School program in partnership with the UC CalFresh nutrition program. Nine school sites have adopted the tutoring model and Smarter Lunchrooms Movement. One hundred thirteen teachers are enrolled to implement nutrition lessons in the classroom. Teachers at one site have aligned nutrition lessons with common core standards for English Language Arts and Health Education. The READY After School Program and its partners have received recognition for nutrition education efforts by the California Department of Education. The effective partnership and program have also led to changes to the School Wellness Policy in the school district to improve healthy eating.

Clientele Testimonial

“In the READY after school program, our students are eager for their next visit from our “Nutrition Ladies” and often ask weeks in advance when their next lesson will be. The news that a Chefs Club was going to take place caused mass hysteria and…the first full club was Chefs Club" -Lead Tutor


Deepa Srivastava, Ph.D., NFCS Advisor, dsr@ucanr.edu; Susan Lafferty, Community Education Specialist II, susan.lafferty@co.kings.ca.us; Denise Cuendett, Community Education Specialist, denise.cuendett@ucanr.edu