Center for Healthy Communities

Summer 2015

Nourishing Local Connections: Erin McCarthy "Cooks" in Red Bluff

Erin McCarthyErin McCarthy thinks people should play with their food—or at least make enjoyment a central focus. A registered dietitian and CHC alumna, McCarthy also believes preparing food should be fun. That’s one motivation behind Cook, her new “locally nourished” kitchen boutique and real-food eatery in historic downtown Red Bluff.

As a dietitian McCarthy noticed that few families cook meals and eat together at home. That’s not a good recipe for optimal nutrition and robust health. That’s also no way to cook up a deep appreciation for good food.

“The lack of connection with our food, and not spending time in the kitchen preparing it, that’s heartbreaking to me,” she says. “Cook evolved from the desire to get people back into the kitchen, to bring back family meals, and to encourage everyone to know their local farmers. We can bring health back into our homes by reconnecting with our food.”

Cook serves up a selection of kitchen tools and a limited menu of locally sourced “grab-and-go” salads, snacks, and take-home ingredients. It also offers unique events, from free cooking instruction (pasta making, homemade infant food) to food events that feature tastings from a local brewer or winery as well as a local farmer. Beer & Bacon in late May, for example, paired brews from Redding’s Fall River Brewing Company with homegrown organic pork appetizers sourced from Red Bluff’s Red Gate Ranch and prepared by Fork & Spoon in Cottonwood.

McCarthy credits much of her success as a dietitian and, now, businessperson, to her experiences at the CHC while still a Chico State student.

“The CHC really developed in me a working confidence that has helped in all jobs. The center gave me freedom to be creative . . . and that trust in my judgment was invaluable as I moved forward. Plus I have a wide network to connect with, now that I am back in Northern California and running my own business.”

New CHC Support

$350K EASY GAP Grant

California State University’s Agriculture Research Institute has funded the CHC for its three-year Enhancing Agricultural Safety Year-Round: Good Agricultural Practices (EASY GAP) project, a collaboration with CSU, Chico’s College of Agriculture. This $343,134 grant will implement and then evaluate a food safety program designed for small and medium-sized farms in Northern California. Stephanie Bianco of the CHC and Dr. Patrick Doyle are co-primary investigators.

Mindful Eating for Kids

The CHC has received a $149,890, two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study mindful eating among children and families. Foodie U: The Impact of a Pilot Mindful Eating Intervention on Food Behaviors among Children and Families, directed by the CHC’s Dr. Keiko Goto, will seek successful strategies to encourage healthy eating among Hispanic and non-Hispanic families with children in the third through fifth grades.

CNAP is now CHC

CHC logoThe Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion Center at Chico State is now the Center for Healthy Communities (CHC). It provides programs and services in 19 Northern California counties.

The need for a name change emerged gradually, says Dr. Cindy Wolff, the center’s founder, as programs saw the need for community change. According to Stephanie Bianco, the CHC’s Assistant Director, activities now prioritize fresh, locally produced food, for example, to support local and regional economies.

“We’re not just supporting healthy families,” Bianco says. “We support healthy food even in the field, helping farmers. We offer worksite wellness services and counseling for weight management, nutrition education, medical nutrition therapy, and lactation support. We offer free cooking classes. We prepare and serve fresh food for seniors.”

Chico State students are central to the CHC’s success. Each year the center provides internships to at least 120 unpaid undergraduate and graduate students—in many different disciplines—and paid student employment to about 80 students.

Support CHC through Annie B's

Child participants in the farm-to-school fresh food programThe CHC needs your support to “grow” its popular farm-to-school fresh food programs in all interested schools in Butte, Glenn, and Tehama Counties. Each $30 gift made to the CHC through the Annie B’s campaign provides one month of services per classroom.

Our research shows a 50 percent increase in vegetable consumption among students who learn about fresh produce through our Harvest of the Month and similar programs. So educating our kids about the importance of fresh, healthy foods clearly pays off. But right now the CHC lacks the funding to offer this popular program for requesting schools.

Help us help our schools offer their students solid nutrition education and exposure to healthy, wholesome fresh foods from an early age.

Donate online now through PayPal or send a check to us made out to: Annie B’s/Center for Healthy Communities, 240 Main St., Suite 260, Chico, CA 95928.

CHC in the Community

CHC Recognized by Food Day

CHC recognition during Food DayThe Center for Healthy Communities received two notable nods from the international Food Day organization this year. The first came 13 minutes and 17 seconds into a TEDx talk given earlier this year in Caserta, Italy. As Food Day Campaign Manager Lilia Smelkova talks about transforming the global food system, a photo pops up of CHC Food Day campaigners at Oroville’s Central Middle School kids’ farmers market. Later, two photos of CHC students celebrating Food Day at Chico State were used in the organization’s one-page Food Day on Campusbrochure. That’s Gina Andrade and Kayla Schmitz in the top shot, and Nicole Moore in the bottom photo (with the dancing watermelon).

CHC Represents at Obesity Conference

CSU, Chico’s CHC Assistant Director Stephanie Bianco and Assistant Professor Jacob Brimlow, a CHC research partner, represented the Center for Healthy Communities at the Eighth Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, held June 29 to July 2 in San Diego. They presented their research, “Perceived Barriers to Local Sales among Farmers in Northern California.”

Kids Stir Up Big Summer Fun: 2015 Camps Bigger & Better Than Ever

Kids Cookin Summer Camp, hosted by the CHCThis year’s LEAP into Summer camp was a big success, according to Program Director Jen Murphy—so much so, in fact, that the CHC will offer these unique kids’ camps during other school-year breaks.

“We had 73 kids this summer, an all-time record,” Murphy says. “And they were all very clever and creative.”

LEAP into Summer is a weeklong interactive nutrition education and play camp for children ages 7 to 13, the goal being to improve kids’ “lifelong eating and activity patterns” or LEAP. Each afternoon camp session includes hands-on cooking instruction and physical activities such as swimming at One Mile.

Kids quickly become chefs during camp, mastering cooking techniques—along with general kitchen and knife safety—while preparing a variety of fruits and vegetables. Typical camp fare might include hearty egg burritos, tabouli, pumpkin pudding, and healthy mac ‘n’ cheese. Classes also incorporate nutrition education on topics such as whole grains, My Plate, and why it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables.

Observing campers grow in skills and confidence is pure pleasure, says Camp Coordinator Emily McMillen.

“Kids come into the camp nervous and unsure in the kitchen. In days they gain an enormous amount of self-confidence and skill. Then they come back bragging that they made dinner for their families!”

Each week’s camp ends with the Kids Chopped Challenge. The challenge is to turn a basket of mystery ingredients into a dish that is judged on creativity, presentation, and taste. Kids need to use all of the cooking techniques they learned during camp. Judges watch the competition, taste the food, and award the winning team.

This year’s Kids Chopped Challenge judges included Dave Hassenzahl, Dean of CSU Chico’s College of Natural Sciences; Howard Hardee, Chico News & Review Reporter; Alex Backus, Action News Now Reporter; Caty Thoma, Executive Director of the CSU, Chico Research Foundation; and Tim Taylor, Superintendent of the Butte County Office of Education.