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Something Fresh and Juicy

The Issue

Between 2001 and 2005 the percentage of overweight and obese children and adolescents in California increased by 6%. This increase in obesity is largely due to poor eating habits and inadequate physical activity. In 2005 California spent $28 billion on obesity-related costs. Obesity and related costs could be substantially reduced by serving more healthful school lunches. School lunch programs are designed to provide a substantial portion of age-appropriate daily nutrition, but many schools still rely on packaged foods and high-fat items that are not healthful for children. Often district and food service administrators are not convinced that students will accept more healthful selections.

What Has ANR Done?

UCCE Monterey County Nutrition Education staff initiated a fotonovela project, "Fast Food High School," with high school students. The students wrote three separate nutrition-related stories. They explored critical issues and pressures of life they experience living in a "supersized" environment. They also developed learning materials to address the key pressures they identified, such as popularity, familial diabetes, and quick weight loss schemes. In the third edition, UCCE staff and the Health Academy students at Alisal High School articulated their concerns about the healthfulness of school food. These concerns attracted the attention of school district administration and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) "Steps for a Healthier Salinas School Health" consultant.

The Payoff

Salad Bars for 14,000 Students

The school district was already discussing the feasibility of offering salad bars at three selected schools in the Fall 2006 semester. Concurrently, but separately, Alisal High School (AHS) students began to develop their fotonovela, voicing their concerns about the lack of healthful food choices. The project led to collaboration among UCCE staff, the AHS Health Academy educator, the Food Service Director, the CDC grant subcontractor and high school administrators to build a salad bar in advance of the original plans. Students and farmers from the Agricultural Land-Based Training Program donated fresh produce. The joint effort resulted in students literally enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors. The decision to extend the fresh salad bars to all district high schools makes them available to 14,252 students, exceeding the original goals of all participants.


Supporting Unit: Monterey County

Sonya Varea Hammond, UCCE Monterey County Director
Kathleen Nolan, UCCE Food Stamp Nutrition Program Nutrition Educator
1432 Abbott Street
Salinas, CA 93901