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UCCE Contra Costa

Letter From Our Bay Area County Director
As we transition from the health aspect to the economic impacts of COVID-19, our most vulnerable and underserved populations are and will continue to be disproportionately impacted. Poverty among predominantly communities of color continue to impact educational opportunities. Food security is and will continue to be a concern, as those most impacted do not have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy lifestyle. In addition, the senseless death of George Floyd has once again highlighted institutionalized racial injustices in America. Read More
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Contact Information

Cooperative Extension
Contra
Costa County
2380 Bisso Lane, Ste. B

Concord, CA 94520-4829

Main Office: 925-608-6670
Master Gardeners: 925-608-6683
Fax: 925-608-6697
Email:  cecontracosta@ucdavis.edu

Director:  Frank McPherson


Nutrition Program

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Contra Costa Stories
  • 4-H youth practice healthy living
    4-H youth practice healthy living

    Obesity among 6- to 11-year-old youth has tripled over the past 30 years. Many youth and adults lack basic meal planning and food preparation skills. In a typical week in 2007, the number of dinners that were cooked and eaten at home was 4.8, but only 57 percent were prepared from scratch (Food Technology, 2008). Empowering youth and their families to adopt healthy food habits - such as planning, preparing and sharing meals at home - will improve the well-being of the entire household.


  • EFNEP addresses childhood obesity through collaboration
    EFNEP addresses childhood obesity through collaboration

    Obesity in childhood increases a child’s risk of developing chronic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as social and psychological problems. Hayward, California, has the highest prevalence of overweight children in Alameda County’s 14 cities, and 50 percent of Hayward Unified School District’s students are overweight or obese. School-based education about healthy eating and fitness habits is a valuable tool to address this issue, but the school district lacked resources and staff needed to implement an evidence-based nutrition education program.


  • UCCE collaboration enhances students’ nutrition education experience
    UCCE collaboration enhances students’ nutrition education experience

    Poor food selection and inactivity contribute to the increase in childhood obesity rates and risk for chronic disease. Empowering school-age children to adopt a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and fitness education can help reverse this alarming trend. Schools are an ideal place for this education, but due to academic mandates it is often difficult to motivate educators to teach nutrition and fitness lessons. Teachers need something fun and creative to entice them to incorporate nutrition into their lesson plans.


  • Bringing integrated pest management to schools
    Bringing integrated pest management to schools

    Since the enactment of the Healthy Schools Act (HSA) in 2001, both UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) have been working with school districts in California to provide information about integrated pest management (IPM). The strategies employed in an IPM program include modifying horticultural practices, such as changing mowing heights and managing irrigation appropriately. These practices can reduce the amount of pesticides used on school grounds to help schools to meet the standards of the HSA and provide a safe and healthy environment for students, teachers and staff. DPR has coordinated numerous workshops for school districts covering general landscape and building IPM topics. However, attendees requested more detailed training about turf IPM since they manage turf areas like playgrounds and sports fields. UCCE has extensive experience in this area and was called upon to help schools implement this policy.


  • Collaborative 4-H and Nutrition project identifies why teens are not drinking water at  school
    Collaborative 4-H and Nutrition project identifies why teens are not drinking water at school

    Childhood obesity remains an American epidemic – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five children ages 6-19 is obese. Overweight and obese children are at increased risk of developing chronic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as social and psychological problems. The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB’S) is one factor that contributes to obesity and research shows that substituting zero calorie water in place of SSB’s can help reduce weight gain. In Contra Costa County, 17% of youth ages 12-17 drank one or more soda the previous day. Recognizing a need to create a positive impact, Contra Costa County 4-H and Nutrition Family and Consumer Science (NFCS) Advisors collaborated to educate teens at John Swett High School (JSHS) in the Bay Area, where 55 percent of the teens qualify for free and reduced lunch.


  • UCCE facilitates teen conference about sexual exploitation of youth
    UCCE facilitates teen conference about sexual exploitation of youth

    More than 200 minors are actively being prostituted by 115 pimps in Oakland, according to the Oakland Police Department. Thanks to the Sexually Exploited Minors Network and Measure Y funding, a Safe Place Alternative is up and running in Oakland. Community-based organizations are working with police, the probation department, the district attorney’s office and other city and county offices to deal with the needs of sexually exploited children; however the network had not held a youth activity.


  • Project 4-H2O Provides Free Zero Calorie Education and Option at Sugartown Festival
    Project 4-H2O Provides Free Zero Calorie Education and Option at Sugartown Festival

    In Contra Costa County, the 2016 California Healthy Kids Survey found that only one out of four teens, ages 12-17, drank eight or more glasses of water the previous day. The same survey found that two out of three (62%) of teens drank two or more sodas the previous day - two times more teens than the national rate of 30%. Studies have found that Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) consumption is linked to weight gain, metabolic syndrome, tooth decay, and type 2 diabetes. Each 12 ounce soda contains the equivalent of eight teaspoons of added sugar, 130 calories, and zero nutrients. The American Heart Association recommends that children and teens limit added sugars to less than six teaspoons a day. Substituting zero calorie water for SSBs can help reduce added sugars, calories, and weight gain, ultimately reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases. Education and awareness are keys to helping individuals make informed choices. The annual Sugartown Festival in Crockett, CA is the largest community festival in the city drawing about 7,500 participants and provides an excellent opportunity to increase awareness.


  • Can Clickers Improve the  Nutrition Education Experience?
    Can Clickers Improve the Nutrition Education Experience?

    Nutrition education is an important part of improving the diets of Californians. Despite public awareness about the role of good dietary habits on health, most are not following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. UC CalFresh, a University of California program, offers nutrition education to low-income families, youth, and seniors throughout California. The goal is to help people make healthy food choices within limited budgets. UC CalFresh educators collect evaluation data using paper forms, but about 25 percent of participants do not complete the forms, making it difficult to assess participants' intent to change their eating habits. Innovative strategies to collect data could help participants assess healthful food choices and recognize how they spend their food dollars.


  • Children wash hands to prevent flu and other illness
    Children wash hands to prevent flu and other illness

    In the United States, on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 people die from seasonal flu complications each year. To prevent the seasonal and H1N1 flu, the Centers for Disease Control recommends getting a flu vaccine and practicing everyday preventive actions, such as frequent handwashing. Handwashing is easy and the most important step to help prevent the spread of the flu. Yet research indicates that many adults and students do not practice frequent or proper handwashing. In fact, 1 out of 5 people do not wash their hands after using the restroom (American Society of Microbiology, 2005).


  • UCCE educators empower parents to limit children’s screen time
    UCCE educators empower parents to limit children’s screen time

    Today's children are expected to live shorter lifespans than their parents and childhood obesity is one contributing factor. The lifetime cost of obesity is estimated at $19,000 per child. Sugar- sweetened beverages (SSBs), fast foods, and screen time are factors related to unhealthy weight. Forty- two percent of Alameda and Contra Costa children are overweight or obese, 31% drank one or more SSB daily, and 24% ate fast food two or more times during the past week. Food companies spent $1.7 billion marketing unhealthy food to children and only $280 million marketing healthy foods. Children are exposed to food marketing through screen time, including TV, mobile devices, and computers. Educating parents about the benefits of serving their children healthy foods and beverages, reducing screen time, and encouraging family physical activity can contribute to better health outcomes and reduced health care costs.


  • 4-H Teens Become Role Models for Healthy Living
    4-H Teens Become Role Models for Healthy Living

    The poor health status for Bay Point youth and families is a result of multiple risk factors: unhealthy weight; sedentary behaviors; limited access to affordable, healthy food; poverty; substance abuse; crime; and poor school performance. Thirty-six percent of students are at an unhealthy weight. Of the nineteen teens that attend Gateway Continuation High School, 63% identify as Latino, and 90% are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Engaging at-risk teens in an after school healthy living program can empower them to improve their health status.


  • UC ANR teamed up to investigate effective integrated pest management for bed bugs in low-income, multiple-occupancy housing
    UC ANR teamed up to investigate effective integrated pest management for bed bugs in low-income, multiple-occupancy housing

    Bed bugs, their bites, and the associated social stigma continue to plague many Californians and draw widespread attention from the media. Although bed bugs can occur within a wide range of human habitations and income-levels, it’s those who live in low-income, multiple-occupancy housing who appear to suffer the greatest. Integrated Pest Management (IPM), first developed by UC in the 1940s for agriculture, offers a theoretical framework for bed bug management in multiple-occupancy housing


  • Alameda 4-H improves the financial literacy of 4th and 5th-grade students
    Alameda 4-H improves the financial literacy of 4th and 5th-grade students

    People develop financial attitudes and behaviors at an early age and today’s youth have significant spending power $211 billion a year in the US (http://www.statisticbrain.com/teenage-consumer-spending-statistics/). While youth are good at spending, various surveys on the financial literacy of teens, consistently report a grade of F or less than 69 percent. This issue is especially salient for limited-income youth and their families. From Tom Torlakson (California State Superintendent) to the US Mint, policy- makers, and organizations have been drawing attention to the need to equip young people to be the competent financial consumers and managers of tomorrow. Multiple groups have recently developed curriculums and programs to meet this need. However, many programs are not research-based, so it is unclear if they lead to financial literacy.


  • Incarcerated youth blossom while working with 4-H, Master Gardeners
    Incarcerated youth blossom while working with 4-H, Master Gardeners

    Roughly 1 in 5 U.S. children have mental health problems, and only 20 percent to 25 percent receive treatment (CA Adolescent Health Collaborative, 2010). In the juvenile justice system, some studies report as many as two-thirds of adolescents have mental health disorders. Alameda County Probation's Camp Sweeney is an unlocked 24-hour facility serving boys aged 14 to 18 years. The teens at Camp Sweeney exhibit a range of maladaptive behaviors and have various physical and mental health needs, which should be treated as part of their rehabilitation.


  • 2018 National Youth Summit on Agri-Science “opened eyes” of CA teens to how agricultural science applies to their daily lives
    2018 National Youth Summit on Agri-Science “opened eyes” of CA teens to how agricultural science applies to their daily lives

    Youth today are confused about where their food comes from. Children have been quoted as saying cheese comes from plants and pasta from animals (Newsweek, 2017). This confusion is no surprise, as only two percent of Americans live on farms today, disconnected with food and agricultural production. Further, most of the youth today are not aware of the science of food, agriculture, and production, or the need for young people to consider careers in these fields. Creative minds are needed so that we can address the looming worldwide food shortages in the future.


  • UCCE Integrated Approach Increases Students' Water Consumption
    UCCE Integrated Approach Increases Students' Water Consumption

    Over the last four decades, rates of childhood obesity have more than tripled for school-aged youth. Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) intake contributes to excessive weight gain. Youth's risk for obesity increases an average of 60% with every additional daily serving of soda. In Shasta County 39% of children ages 2-17 consumed one or more SSBs daily and 33% were considered overweight or obese. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage individuals to choose water as the best non-caloric substitute for SSBs. UCCE was ready to mobilize resources and partnerships to improve the health outcomes of Shasta County youth through education, marketing and promotion, and environmental changes that supported water consumption.


  • UCCE helps low-income Californians increase food security
    UCCE helps low-income Californians increase food security

    From 2007 to 2009, during the nation’s economic downturn, food insecurity in California’s low-income adult population increased from 35 percent to 40 percent. These adults were not able to procure sufficient food to maintain a healthy diet for themselves and other household members. Food insecurity effects academic achievement, increases the risk of obesity and chronic disease and impairs mental health. A 2012 UCLA Health Policy Brief reported that 38 million low-income adults in California were food insecure and that rates were highest in low-income Spanish-speaking households and those with children. Although participation in federal food assistance programs has increased since 2007, many recipients experience food resource management challenges, lacking skills to maximize their food dollars to buy, prepare and store healthy foods. Providing low-income families with food education along with resource management skills can help improve the overall health and food security of the household.


Spotlight Stories

Contra Costa Master Gardener Events

Calendar of events

Calendar and Events
Event Name Date
Forest Stewardship workshop - Santa Cruz 9/21/2020
Open Garden Day & Plant Sale 11/7/2020

All About Tomatoes