CHC Fall 2015 Newsletter

The Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) is housed under the College of Natural Sciences

CHC Alum Pedaled Bike Kitchen, Proved his Mettle

Pedro

Former Intern Teaches History in El Cerrito

Pedro Uriostegue is known around the Center for Healthy Communities office as the guy who once “rode” the 650-pound Bike Kitchen all the way to Durham. By himself.

Rumors of that adventure—a distance of at least six miles one way—were somewhat exaggerated, as it turns out. According to Uriostegue, the CSU, Chico University Farm was the farthest he ever pedaled the kitchen. But given that the farm is out in the country, on the way to Durham, that particular bike ride was memorable enough.

The one-time CHC intern, a Chico State history alum, now teaches U.S. history to eighth graders at Fred T. Korematsu Middle School in El Cerrito. Uriostegue admires the school, including its association with Korematsu, a civil rights activist who advocated on behalf of Japanese Americans relocated to internment camps by the U.S. government during World War II.

As a middle-school teacher, Uriostegue now has the responsibility of introducing this and other chapters of U.S. history to eager, idealistic students. He loves every minute of his job, and counts himself a very fortunate person

“I know it sounds clichéd, but so far teaching has been an amazing experience,” Uriostegue says. “So far, it’s been the best experience of my life.”

A close second, though, are his days at Chico State as an intern at the CHC, which was then still known as the Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion (CNAP). He believes his CHC experiences helped him get comfortable interacting with all kinds of people from all backgrounds—an ability of great benefit now that he’s teaching. Working on CHC projects also helped him “become more open and able to share in social situations.”

 “I’m so grateful I was given the opportunity to intern at the CHC,” he says. “It’s wonderful even if you’re not a nutrition major. It’s an awesome, fun experience.”

Uriostegue particularly appreciates the CHC’s “positive and supportive culture.” Working in such an encouraging, enthusiastic place ultimately “reflects well on the work that you do,” he says.

According to Melissa Stearns, a CHC program manager who worked with Uriostegue, he could be counted on to do what was needed, do it well, and do it on time.

“He was a rock star!”

Uriostegue credits the CHC, the Bike Kitchen, and bike enthusiast Karen Goodwin for his decision to buy himself a good bike and get serious about cycling. Last year he successfully rode his first 100-mile bike ride, the Chico Wildflower Century.

But when Goodwin first asked him to power up the Bike Kitchen—a bike-powered mobile kitchen—he wasn’t a cyclist. He couldn’t even wrap his mind around the concept of cycling down the road bike pulling a kitchen behind him.

“It sounded crazy! A bicycle that’s also a kitchen? How does that work?” Pedaling the kitchen around town, though, soon became a pleasure—and yet another way to meet people.

Goodwin says working with Uriostegue was always a joy.

“Not only did he push to do a good job, he literally pushed his work around,” she says with a laugh. “The 650-pound kitchen where he demonstrated healthy recipes and explained their preparation—in both English and Spanish—was no easy pedal. But he reliably showed up at each community event, farmers market, or school program with a smile on his face and a shining attitude.

“Pedro walked his talk—or, in this case, consistently rolled forward by putting his pedal to the pavement.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

News You Can Use

If you wonder why the CHC is suddenly sharing so much news, via this newsletter and also occasional eblasts, rest assured that nothing major has changed. We’re simply doing what we’ve meant to do for quite some time, which is to keep our partners, friends, and former students better informed about what we’re doing and why. Please feel free to contact me personally to ask about CHC news and to suggest story ideas.

Cindy Wolff, CHC Executive Director 

Fresh Pick Meals Now Available

Fresh Pick Meals

The CHC is well known and widely praised for its nutrition education outreach and services in Northern California, from preparing fresh, from-scratch meals for seniors to serving samples of local fruit and vegetables to school children.                           

CHC is expanding its public service to include entire families and now offers for sale to the general public its own ready-to-heat Fresh Pick meals based on fresh, seasonally available vegetables and fruits. Meal ingredients are locally sourced when possible. Producing entirely “local” meals is a program goal.

Proceeds from the sale of Fresh Pick meals go to support the fresh, from-scratch meals the CHC prepares for older adults throughout Butte County for the Senior Meals program. The CHC prepares and delivers freshly made, wholesome meals to Senior Meal group dining sites in Chico, Oroville, and Paradise, and also to homebound seniors. Costs for commercial kitchen use and staff time are substantial.

Fresh Pick meals can be picked up from the CHC building entrance at 25 Main Street in downtown Chico every Tuesday and Thursday from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday meals need to be ordered and paid for by midnight of the prior Thursday, and Thursday meals need to be ordered and paid for by midnight of the prior Monday. Pay for orders online via credit card or PayPal. See what’s available in coming weeks on the CHC website. For any questions, contact Fresh Pick.

CHC Receives $250K Farmers Market Grant

Persimmons

The CHC has received a three-year, $250,000 grant from the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) to help promote the use of EBT (electronic benefits transfer) cards at the Chico Certified Farmers Market on Saturdays. The CHC’s farmers market outreach team will also share produce-rich recipes and demonstrate food preparation techniques.

The key goal of the farmers market grant is to make sure that families and individuals who receive CalFresh benefits understand that they can “spend” them at the Saturday morning market to buy fish, eggs, meat, fresh vegetables and fruits, and other eligible items, including food-producing plant “starts” and seeds.

Other reasons for EBT outreach include expanding the range of retail options for everyone who receives CalFresh benefits, supporting local farmers, and encouraging people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Check Out New CHC Website

Come see the new CHC website, which is now “mobile friendly”—look us up on your phone or tablet—and easier to use. Minor improvements are continuing, with changes here and there, but you’ll notice many new faces, starting with the interns and staff in our home page banner photo. Rotating information and photo boxes on our home page will help keep you informed about changing details.

CHC in the Community

CHC Serves Up Another Successful Food Day

Kitchen Crew

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” according to a ripe slice of folk wisdom [GA1] that is believed to have originated in Wales. The 1866 edition of Notes and Queries magazine quoted the proverbial phrase as: “Eat an apple on going to bed. And you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread."

Apples are a fine fall reminder of the many benefits of eating fresh, local, “real food” benefits for our families, but also for the health of our communities and local and regional economies.

So no wonder this year’s north state Food Day honored the humble apple with the Apple Crunch Challenge, an event held at multiple locations. Food Day is an international event promoted by the Washington D.C.-based advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Apple Crunch

With a boost from the CHC, in Tehama County about 1,700 students crunched into apples in classrooms and as part of the Lights On! 2015 event organized by the Department of Education’s Safe Education and Recreation for Rural Families (SERRF) after-school program.

In Butte County, hundreds of students at both Butte College and CSU, Chico joined in the fun.

Chico State Food Day events were hosted by our CSU, Chico partners the Health Professionals Association and the Nutrition and Food Science Association. The nonprofit GRUB Education Glean Team provided fresh, local apples, and Cultivating Communities’ Edible Pedal served up a special apple dish. The CHC’s CalFresh Outreach team informed students about the availability of CalFresh benefits (formerly food stamps) and helped 123 students apply. The Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry gave away fresh produce, while the Organic Vegetable Project offered its wares as it usually does on Wednesdays. Other event sponsors included Mobilize for Good Health Butte County, a collaboration including UC CalFresh, the CHC, Butte County Public Health, Ampla Health, and the African American Family & Cultural Center.

The CHC’s CalFresh Outreach crew was also front and center at the Butte College Food Day and Apple Crunch events, and enrolled 39 students in CalFresh benefits. The Butte College event was also co-sponsored by Mobilize for Good Health Butte County.

Excellent Food Day media coverage helped get the word out about the event, the need to improve food security for college students, and the importance of supporting the health and well-being of local agriculture:

Chico State Brings Food Day a Bite Closer to Home

Federal Grant Boosts Food Aid for Local Markets

Twitter: #ChicoState takes part in a mass crunch as part of #FoodDay2015 Wednesday    

Instagram: Chico State Takes a Bite of the Apple

Food Day at Chico State Focuses on More, Better Food for Students

CSU, Chico Celebrates Food Day with Apple Crunch

The point of Food Day is to inspire everyone to eat healthier diets, while working to improve food policies to ensure better quality, greener food for everyone. Eating greener and healthier means eating more fruits and veggies—hence, the Apple Crunch!

If an apple leads to a carrot, and then maybe to a fresh cucumber and tomato salad, eating habits that support a healthier, more wholesome lifestyle are slowly but surely improving.

Meet Hayley Baumgartner, Real Food Advocate

Baumgartner

Hayley Baumgartner of FoodCorps is working with the CHC throughout the 2015­–2016 school year. A California native, she was inspired to sign up for FoodCorps after teaching in public schools.

“I noticed a large education gap around health and self-care in the public school curriculum,” she says, “because the education world has to be so focused on academic standards. But as a result, we are not educating young people about important life basics, such as healthy eating and stress reduction.

“As a student, I never was educated about these things, and I am having to learn them as an adult, which is challenging!”

Everyone deserves to know what healthy food is, where it comes from, and what it does for you, Baumgartner believes. Being a “real food advocate” working with youth is deeply important, “so they grow up with healthy minds and bodies which support them in pursuing their wildest dreams.”

Working as a FoodCorps service member has allowed Baumgartner to stay in the world of education, but give a voice to important “life education” that is too often edged out in schools.

Baumgartner is one of just 17 FoodCorps members serving with 13 food education programs in California.

FoodCorps is a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who connect kids to real food and help them grow up healthy. Service members teach children from kindergarten through high school about food and nutrition in the classroom, and integrating food and nutrition activities into subjects such as math, science and history.

These days, Baumgartner is hands-on with the CHC’s Harvest of the Month (HOTM) program, which introduces students to fresh fruits and vegetables through “tastes” of fresh, locally sourced produce. In addition to working in the production kitchen and helping to direct a team of “awesome interns,” she is working hard on classroom materials that “connect” the HOTM experience to the classroom—“creating a range of lessons that are practical for teachers to use in classrooms and that can be adapted to the standards that they are already teaching.”

Baumgartner is also working on the CHC’s Farm Stand Pilot Project out in Colusa—increasing access to fresh produce for the families of students—and working on the school garden at Chico Country Day School. In the spring, she will help run the CHC’s Kids Farmers Markets.

So far, Baumgartner is enjoying life in Chico.

“It’s a funky town in the best way possible,” she says. “It seems like there is a solid community here committed to sustainable living.”

Sustainable communities are a central focus for Baumgartner, who hopes to host her own “educational homestead” within 10 years—a place of learning and inspiration for anyone interested in composting, regenerative agriculture, permaculture, alternative building, food preservation, and medicinal plants.

CHC Students Fully Engage Community with Service Learning

Civic Engagement Supports Region, Students

Civic Engagement

The Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) student internship and employment program is hailed widely as a model of civic engagement and service learning. It was most recently praised by the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention branch of the California Department of Public Health, which honored this “noteworthy initiative” at its summer 2015 stakeholders meeting.

So what’s the buzz all about? How does the CHC’s commitment to student civic engagement deliver such serious impact?

Its supportive, encouraging environment is part of the answer. Students keep coming back for more.

Every year the CHC provides civic engagement and service learning opportunities—community service work and pre-professional practice—to more than 120 university students, as it has since 2003. The completion of a 135-hour internship, another level of civic engagement, is required for CHC student employment.

These well-designed and structured internships are open to university students from all colleges and disciplines. Recent CHC students come from 18 different disciplines, including nutrition, health education, kinesiology, agriculture, business, marketing, technology, social work, liberal studies, math and statistics, journalism, psychology, graphic design, and public administration.

Benefits for students are immense, even if challenging to measure. Hands-on experiential learning helps reinforce concepts learned in the classroom. It also fosters leadership skills. Students lead teams to deliver community-based nutrition education—the basics of food budgeting, cooking classes, and more—and in the process develop and polish professional skills they'll need to land good jobs.

The CHC internship model also allows university students to fully engage all aspects of partnership development and learn how to design, implement, and evaluate programs. Very quickly students become both comfortable with and competent at working with very diverse communities.

Civic Engagement

Students also participate on all 15 CHC research teams, conducting funded research in areas such as agriculture, education, food culture, food safety, nutrition, public health, and psychology. These efforts help the center maintain its focus on cutting-edge research and evolving best practices. Students are fully credited for their good work; they are included as co-authors in all publications that appear in peer-reviewed journals and conference presentations.

And in these times of ever-tightening budgets, both the CHC and CSU, Chico benefit from having such an enthusiastic, idealistic, and well-trained group of paraprofessionals representing them in the community. Some students may work on the team that prepares and serves senior meals. Others may start school gardens, serve samples of fresh, local produce to third-graders, or teach basic cooking skills to kids at summer camp. Some paint exercise stencils onto asphalt playgrounds, and others teach family farmers how to implement new food safety regulations.

Whatever the particular tasks, each year student interns and employees help the CHC reach and serve more than 100,000 North State residents—including 20,000 K-12 students in 15 counties.

For more information about the CHC’s civic engagement student internship and employment program, please contact Stephanie Bianco at 530-898-4022 or sbianco@csuchico.edu, or Jen Murphy at 530-898-4318 or jemurphy@csuchico.edu.

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