Connecting Communities and Families

Connecting Communities and Families is a USDA-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) funded program.

The long term goal of this program is to improve the health of children and their families via an increase in fruit & vegetable consumption.

Project goal and supporting objectives: 

The overall goal of this Seed Grant integrated project is to identify and pilot-test strategies for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income Hmong, Latino, and white parents and young children via the promotion of locally available ethnic produce.  Supporting objectives are to:

Research

1) Examine relationships among exposure to, attitude toward, and consumption of local ethnic produce; social networks; and behavioral factors related to childhood obesity and

2) Assess the impact of a pilot intervention on exposure, attitude, and behavior related to local ethnic produce among parents and children.

Extension

Improve exposure, attitude, and behavior, e.g. consumption, related to locally grown ethnic produce among low-income parents and children.

Education

Strengthen university students’ knowledge and skills related to research and extension pertaining to the promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption as a component of childhood obesity prevention efforts.

Background and existing knowledge

Childhood obesity among various ethnic groups

According to reports from the CDC, childhood obesity “disproportionally affects” minority and low-income children,including Latinos and Hmong, the two largest ethnic minority groups in Butte County, California.  Immigrants and refugees, including Latinos and Hmong, tend to increase their consumption of fat, processed meats, snack foods and fast-food, and lower their consumption of fish, vegetables, and whole grains, putting them at a much greater risk for obesity and chronic diseases. However, the relation between acculturation and obesity does not appear to be linear, possibly due to the multifaceted nature of obesity.

Bonding/bridging social capital as a factor impacting childhood obesity prevention

The unique skills and traditions that immigrants/refugees bring to their communities, such as healthful eating habits and knowledge of ethnic food products, can be effective tools for the promotion of healthy eating patterns and, concomitantly, the prevention of obesity.

Locally grown ethnic produce promotion as a vehicle for child obesity prevention

Locally grown ethnic produce is a vehicle for the prevention of child obesity by 1) increasing consumption and variety of fruits and vegetables, 2) connecting ethnically diverse families with their communities and increased bonding and bridging social capital, and 3) promoting sustainable food practices and encouraging the consumption of less processed foods.

An overall description of the activities:

Research

Focus groups and a cross-sectional survey will be utilized to examine relationships between exposure to and attitude toward local ethnic produce, social networks, and behavioral factors for childhood obesity prevention.

Extension

In order to increase exposure, attitude, and behavior related to locally grown ethnic produce among low-income parents and children, a variety of instruments will be used.  These include development of cultural/ethnic food recipes representing Hmong, Latino, and white northstate residents, food demonstrations and taste testings with K-2 children in three elementary schools and promotion and assessment of recipe utilization among parents and children at home.

Education

To meet our education related objective, university interns will be identified and trained to be involved in the project.

Community Responses:

"Every cooking demo has been wonderful! Students are engrossed and get to do it again at home with their families. It has been well worth while!"

-Lisa C. - Principal

"The final food demo was successful since the students actually constructed food... I asked the kinders "what does the word "ingredient" mean? Answer: Ingredients are things, like food, to put together to make more food. Concise and accurate."

-Carol G. - Kindergarten Teacher