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Get Fresh intervention in Riverside County reaches 9,000 low-income individuals

The Issue

In Riverside County, the CalFresh program (federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) serves 289,188 low-income individuals. According to California Food Policy Advocates, 37% of low-income households in 2014 were food insecure, having limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Educating CalFresh participants about making healthy food choices and shopping on a limited budget can help to improve their nutrition and food security; however, the challenge is that this population is very hard to reach and may be at different stages of readiness to change behaviors.

What Has ANR Done?

To address this challenge, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) established a unique partnership with Riverside County's Department of Public Social Services Welfare Department (DPSS) and Department of Public Health (DOPH), resulting in the Get Fresh Project. Funding was provided by a U.S. Department of Agriculture SNAP-Education Innovative Grant. Through a collective impact approach, each partner identified their assets and together coordinated the Get Fresh Project, which reached 9,000 low income residents over a three year period. The team developed and evaluated the success of a four-lesson program and cooking video that teaches participants how to prepare healthy home-cooked meals on a budget. The delivery method was modified from lessons learned to fit the population served and resulted in a combination of in-class teaching and spotlight education (setting up informational tables to engage and educate the participants on a specific topic) at CalFresh offices, food pantries or food distribution sites, and other locations.

The Payoff

Collaborative nutrition education effort results in healthy behavior changes

UCCE surveyed a sample of Get Fresh participants (n = 70) in 2015 and found the following statistically significant behavior changes about 2 weeks after receiving the Get Fresh intervention: 39% of participants increased their frequency of consuming fruits or vegetables at the midday meal, 41% included more than one kind of vegetable at the main meal daily, and 19% increased frequency of shopping with a grocery list. UCCE also measured participants’ intent to change in 2014 and found that participants who received the Get Fresh intervention had significantly greater intent than the comparison group for the following behaviors: eating fruit and whole grains at breakfast, reducing sweet beverages, eating more than one kind of vegetable daily, and using a grocery list. This model of collaboration demonstrates the opportunities for multiagency management of programs in developing, delivering, and evaluating the effectiveness of nutrition education at food pantries and food distribution sites.


Supporting Unit:

Riverside County and UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program
Chutima Ganthavorn, CE Nutrition, Family, and Consumer Sciences Advisor in Riverside County, cganthavorn@ucanr.edu
Lucia Kaiser, CE Specialist at UC Davis, llkaiser@ucdavis.edu