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UC CalFresh - Dignity Health partnership improves food decision-making in Kern

The Issue

We have all either experienced or heard about the disempowering effects of unemployment. However, did you know about its health effects? Studies have indicated that the unemployed experience poorer health and higher mortality rates than the employed population. Unemployment has been shown to lead to an increase in unhealthy behaviors related to alcohol and tobacco consumption, as well as diet and exercise, which in turn has the potential to contribute to greater health disparities.

What Has ANR Done?

Recognizing the negative effects of unemployment, particularly on diet and physical activity, UC CalFresh Nutrition Education teamed with Dignity Health’s Homemaker Care Program. This job training program is offered at no cost to Kern County residents receiving public assistance. The training equips participants with the skills needed to assist elderly and disabled adults that live independently.

UC CalFresh Community Educator in Kern County, Bea Ramirez, provided the food resource management curriculum, called Plan Shop Save Cook (PSSC), for Dignity Health’s Homecare Program participants. Topics covered in the class included reading Nutrition Facts labels, learning how to save money on food purchases, and using the principles of MyPlate to plan meals. Bea shared that she enjoys teaching the Homemaker Care trainees because “they are interested and motivated,” and they discuss applying what they are learning with their future clients.

The Payoff

The power of investing in people

In total, 31 pre/post surveys were completed by participants in the Dignity Health Homemaker Care Program. Evaluation results indicated that 52% of participants increased their frequency of reading Nutrition Facts labels when choosing foods; 26% increased their frequency of comparing unit food prices, and 42% reported greater food security (not running out of food by the end of the month). Evaluation data also showed a marked improvement in the use of MyPlate to make food choices. “What is most exciting about partnering with the Dignity Health Homemaker Care program is that we have the ability to positively affect both the diet content of the trainees and also help inform and potentially reduce nutrition deficiencies in our more homebound, less visible populations -- the elderly and the disabled."

Clientele Testimonial

"The UC CalFresh program presentations are extremely important and an integral part of our training program. We are very grateful that our organizations are collaborating together to reach, teach and help place trainees into meaningful work --giving them renewed hope for themselves, and their families." - David V. Mazone
Supervisor, Homemaker Care Program


Supporting Unit: Kern County

Margaret Johns, UC Calfresh Kern County mcjohns@ucanr.edu (661) 868-6217
Jan Gillespie, UC CalFresh
jjgillespie@ucanr.edu (661) 868-6214
Andra Nicoli, UC CalFresh State Office