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UC CalFresh: Bringing Nutrition Education to Life in Fresno Classrooms

The Issue

Elementary school teachers need educational materials and methods to help inspire and engage school children to make healthier food choices. This is critical to public health initiatives addressing health concerns such as early onset obesity. Among children aged 2 to 9, 17 percent are obese -– a figure that has tripled since 1980 (CDC data). In the next 20 years, obesity could contribute to 7.9 million new cases of diabetes, 5 million new cases of chronic heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer (Robert Wood Johnson’s health report card).

What Has ANR Done?

Since 2010, UC CalFresh Fresno County has been piloting elementary school nutrition curricula delivered through SMART Board, an interactive technology available in most schools. A major appeal of SMART Board nutrition education is the ability to engage visual and tactile learners. Photos can be moved by a student’s finger on a whiteboard to help bring the printed curriculum to life.

Through SMART Board nutrition education, teachers can bring images and videos about agriculture and healthy foods into the classroom, and quickly update information. UC CalFresh SMART Board nutrition education is available to qualifying Fresno Unified School District elementary sites. Twenty lessons have been created, including Farm to Fork (K-2nd grade), RAMP (3rd grade), and Nutrition to Grow On (4th-6th grade) curricula, with the help of UC Cooperative Extension Fresno County staff.

The Payoff

Nutrition Lessons get A+

In 2011-12, UC CalFresh evaluated the SMART Board nutrition education pilot program in 19 schools (surveying teachers, K-6 students, and administrators). There is overwhelming interest by teachers to regularly use SMART Board for nutrition education lessons in the future. Eighty five percent of teachers say SMART Board nutrition lessons reduce prep-time compared to printed curricula, and over 90 percent say it engages students more than traditional education methods.

Most importantly, 85 percent of the students “really liked” the SMART Board nutrition education and wanted to use it again. Students liked the interactive element, the games and the activities. UC CalFresh Fresno staff are completing improvements to the lessons and plan to launch the program statewide in 2013.


UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program, State Office; Andra Nicoli, (530) 754-9059, amnicoli@ucdavis.edu

UC CalFresh Nutrition Education, Fresno County; Shelby MacNab, Youth Program Manager, (559) 600-7222, smacnab@ucdavis.edu

Sara Bosse, Senior Nutrition Manager, (559) 600-7234, bosse@ucdavis.edu