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CalFresh Healthy Living, UC Creates Institutional Change for Young Learners

August 21, 2023 | California

Aug 21, 2023

SNAP-Ed in California is called CalFresh Healthy Living.

Summary

Hundreds of 3-to-5-year-old children in Yolo County, California can identify healthy food choices thanks to the addition of nutrition education in their monthly Head Start lesson plans! The CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL), University of California (UC) and it’s implementing agency UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) in Yolo County served 15 Head Start sites, reaching 270 preschool students during the 2021-2022 school year. The reach, coupled with the quality of content and training provided by CFHL, UCCE Yolo County, prompted the Yolo County Office of Education Head Start Program to include nutrition education in monthly lesson plans. This is now being replicated in nearby Sacramento County Head Start programs.

“Children now have a greater knowledge about healthy food choices and are often naming the foods, “go”, “glow”, “grow.”

– Prairie Head Start teacher

Go, Glow Grow nutrition education curriculum materials
Go, Glow Grow nutrition education curriculum materials are delivered to Head Start educators in a kit.

Challenge

Prior to the pandemic, the CFHL, UCCE Yolo staff worked directly with Head Start teachers and provided individual curriculum trainings, technical assistance, and classroom taste-tests.  This delivery method required monthly coordination with teachers. It was time-intensive and costly. 

Solution

Collaboration between CFHL, UCCE Yolo staff and the Yolo County Office of Education Curriculum Coordinator led to the institutionalization of Go, Glow, Grow, a nutrition education curriculum for preschoolers. Go, Glow, Grow lessons introduce MyPlate and 3 categories of foods: “Go/ Carbohydrates, “Glow”/ Fruits and Vegetables, and “Grow”/ Dairy and Protein. This curriculum is an appropriate fit for the Head Start program because the lesson aligns with the preschool Desired Results Developmental Profile for the California Department of Education. All teachers are trained during a two-hour professional development day. Curriculum kits contain all materials for lesson delivery and are loaned to teachers at the beginning of the school year. 

“We used the Go, Glow, Grow kit and the children enjoyed the curriculum a lot…children enjoy learning what foods make them grow because they will ask how their eating will make them grow big and tall.”

– Head Start teacher

​Go, Glow, Grow curriculum kit for classrooms
​Go, Glow, Grow curriculum kit for classroom

 

After finishing the lesson series, 15 teachers completed the Teacher Observation Tool evaluation survey, and all agreed or strongly agreed that students were:

  • able to identify healthy food choices,
  • willing to try new foods offered at school, and
  • washing their hands before eating. 
  • Additionally, 87% of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that students chose fruits or vegetables during school mealtimes or parties. 

CFHL, UCCE Yolo County Teacher/Extender Training

Teachers were trained to deliver Go, Glow, Grow curriculum lessons during a teacher in-service day in the fall of 2021. In previous years, teachers were trained individually and CFHL, UCCE Yolo staff scheduled 15 separate events.  Coordinating an all-staff training event streamlined the training process, saved staff time and SNAP-Ed funds.

Nutrition Educator talking to a small group of students about MyPlate

Sustaining Success

The Go, Grow, Glow curriculum training and institutionalization within Yolo County Office of Education Head Start program is a successful extender model for an early childhood education program. The model is being replicated in nearby Sacramento County and 28 Head Start teachers were trained in January 2023. Overall, the pilot program increased the number of students participating in nutrition education classes and improved program delivery, efficiency, and reach over the 2 counties.


SNAP ED Evaluation Framework Indicators: ST1, MT1, ST7

Program logos for Cal Fresh Healthy Living, University of California, and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

 

 

CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California  

Andra Nicoli, MA amnicoli@ucdavis.edu, Program & Policy Analyst, Strategic Initiatives

Kamal Khaira, MS kjkhaira@ucdavis.edu, Director

CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) - Yolo County

Alyssa Borland, arborland@ucanr.edu, Nutrition Educator

Marcel Horowitz, MS, MCHES, mhorowitz@ucanr.edu, Healthy Youth, Families & Communities Advisor

Monica Drazba, mcdrazba@ucanr.edu, Program Supervisor

Christie Hedrick, MPH, clhedrick@ucanr.edu, EFNEP Statewide Coordinator