VegOut! Challenge

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The 2017 National Nutrition Month® theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.”

CWN is celebrating and putting our best fork forward by challenging ourselves, our friends and colleagues, and the communities we serve to eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days (March 1 – March 30). Our partners at Recipe for Success Foundation provide the tools, resources, and inspiration to make it easy with their VegOut! Campaign.

You can join the challenge, be a part of our team, and have a chance to win prizes! Simply go to to sign up. On the registration page, there is a field to enter your team name. Please join our team by entering Wellness Matters! in this field.

  • Track your veggie intake on the website or download the app to track from your mobile device.
  • Browse recipes to get preparation inspiration for some new or unfamiliar veggies.
  • Join the conversation in the forum of our team page and on Twitter using the hash tag #VegOut2017.
  • Eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days to be entered into a drawing to win a prize from the Center for Wellness and Nutrition.

We’ll be tweeting our progress and our favorite recipes throughout the month, so be sure to follow @phi_wellness on Twitter.

New resources available from the Center for Wellness and Nutrition

The Center for Wellness and Nutrition (CWN) is happy to announce the release of three new resources designed to assist organizations and individuals in making healthy changes in their communities: 



CWN knows that initiating partnerships with retailers can be one of the most challenging aspects of beginning a healthy retail program. That’s why we created a new resource to make the process easier. Our one page (front and back) document, Healthy Stores, Healthy Shoppers, conveys to retailers the business benefits of partnership and health promotion for their store. By focusing on the benefits to a retailer’s business, health advocates are more likely to gain buy-in from potential retail partners. To learn more about this resource and opportunities for co-branding, please contact Courtney Cagle





To promote the importance of worksite wellness programs, CWN created a worksite wellness promotional flyer highlighting the benefits of wellness programs for employers and employees including return on investments, and increased morale and productivity. The Worksite Wellness flyer targets businesses, specifically Human Resources staff, who often are the first point of contact when initiating a wellness program and can also act as a tool for health professionals that are responsible for recruiting businesses or implementing wellness programs. If you are interested in starting a worksite wellness program or if your current wellness program needs a boost, please contact for more information.





CWN is a national leader in developing campaigns, programs and partnerships to reduce obesity and promote equity in the most vulnerable communities across the country. Through education, engagement, environmental changes and policies, we work to make health accessible for all!



Farmer Spotlight: Mary Pierce

Farmer: Mary PierceThrough a combination of funding from the Placer Get Fresh Project and the Farmers’ Market SNAP Support Grant, CWN staff facilitate the acceptance of SNAP/EBT benefits at the Auburn DeWitt Center Farmers’ Market. Mary Pierce is the owner of Pierce’s Family Farm and serves as the on-site manager of the Auburn DeWitt Center Farmers’ Market. Mary has been selling fruits, vegetables, and eggs grown on her family farm at this farmers’ market for nine years and offers customers heirloom tomatoes, elephant garlic, eggplant, peppers, broccoli, peaches and more throughout the season. Mary has been an instrumental advocate of the EBT booth at the market and her magnanimous personality played a significant role in getting all of the qualifying vendors to participate in the program.

Mid-way through market season, CWN staff facilitated a gleaning project donating fresh produce from market vendors to the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet. The food closet is committed to providing the healthiest options it can, but often struggles with securing an adequate supply of fresh produce to meet the needs of its clients. All the fresh produce vendors at the Auburn DeWitt Center Farmers’ Market donated to the food closet throughout the season: over 200 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables were secured! When asked why she chooses to donate her produce, Mary says, “People need to eat good food and they need access. That’s what farming is all about: feeding people.” “Small Farm, Big Flavor” is the Pierce’s Family Farm motto, but it could just as well be “Small Farm, Big Hearts”. Mary says that her husband really enjoys growing good food and they love to celebrate the abundance of their farm by giving food to people. According to Mary, “Real food makes people happy.” She says that as a farmer, she’s teaching people about food…real food…and flavor.

Rodriguez Brother Farms photoOther contributing vendors include Rodriguez Brothers, Ortega Family Farm, Brenner Farm, Four C- Sons, and Salle Orchards. We thank all of them for a fantastic 2016 market season and look forward to our time with them in market season 2017.

10th Annual Southern Obesity Summit

Join the Public Health Institute (PHI) Center for Wellness and Nutrition at the 10th Annual Southern Obesity Summit in Houston, TX on November 13-15, 2016.

The Southern Obesity Summit (SOS) is the largest regional obesity prevention event in the United States, drawing hundreds of participants from 16 Southern States consisting of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.  Together, these states join forces to fight obesity. The Center for Wellness and Nutrition  is a national leader in developing campaigns, programs, and partnerships to reduce obesity and promote equity in the most vulnerable communities across the country.

Look for us at our presentation and post session workshop, and stop by our booth to find out more about our work.

Follow @PHI_wellness using #SOSTX2016 for live updates during the conference.

Oral Presentation

Presenter: Amy DeLisio MPH, RD 

When: Monday, November 14, 2016 1:00-2:15pm

This presentation will highlight CWN’s partnership with UC CalFresh to broaden positive youth development impacts and principles that create leadership opportunities and result in low income youth as decision makers in healthy changes, Maximizing Partnership to Support Youth.

Post Summit Workshop

Presenter: Amy DeLisio MPH, RD and Metria Munyan

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 12:45pm – 3:00pm

Building Food Systems Partnerships to Enhance Healthy Food Access Work

In this workshop we will share tools, resources and identify important partnerships that will help you plan effective food system interventions. This training will prepare you to make connections with retailers by learning the art of behavioral economics, marketing, and merchandising strategies, and the best mediums for conveying information.

Engaging Sacramento County Retailers in Community Wellness

Public Health Institute (PHI) Center for Wellness and Nutrition (CWN) has been awarded Sacramento County’s SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education) Retail Engagement and Partnerships Grant though a competitive process. Studies show the majority of shoppers’ food purchasing decisions are made in the store, but identifying healthy choices can be challenging for many shoppers. Engaging retailers in nutrition education and obesity prevention efforts is critical to influencing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program shoppers’ dietary behavior. By promoting healthy choices, retailers can simultaneously increase sales of healthy items, improve customer loyalty, and promote community wellness and vitality.

Beginning October 1, 2016, CWN will partner with large and small food retailers in low-resource communities in Sacramento County to implement strategies designed to encourage the purchase of healthy foods, especially locally grown fruits and vegetables. In particular, CWN will partner with small- to medium-sized independent retailers to participate in a Healthy Retail Recognition Program, which engages and motivates retailers to make healthy changes to their store by providing incentives and assistance. In 2014, CWN staff designed a model SNAP-Ed Healthy Retail Recognition Pilot Program in California and conducted formative research in the Los Angles and Santa Clara counties through partnerships with the local public health departments. This model program is now included in the SNAP-Ed Toolkit for States, and will be tailored to meet local needs in Sacramento, California. For more information about this project, please contact Amy DeLisio.


USDA’s final rule for Local School Wellness Policies

Perfectly timed with the beginning on a new school year The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) just released its final rule for Local School Wellness Policies. Each school districts participating in federal nutrition programs such as the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs are required to have a Local School Wellness Policy that addresses goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that promote student wellness and rely on evidence-based strategies. Districts must fully comply with the requirements of the final rule by June 30, 2017.

The rules will make great strides to promote integrity across the school meals programs. Here are a few highlights to be aware of:

  • School districts are now required to allow certain stakeholders (including: parents, students, school food staff, physical education teachers, school health professionals, the school board, school administrators, and members of the general public) to participate in the development, implementation, and periodic review and update of the local school wellness policy.
  • The new rule will disallow the marketing of unhealthy foods in schools. This includes à la carte items sold in the cafeteria, through school stores, vending machines, or many on-campus fundraisers.
  • Local school wellness policy must include nutritional guidelines standards for all foods being sold and available to students on campus.
  • Local school wellness policies must be made available to the public on at least an annual basis.

In addition to the Local School Wellness Policy ruling, USDA also release of the final rules for Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School (Smart Snacks), Community Eligibility Provision, and Administrative Reviews;

Establishing a firm platform for building on the progress schools across the country have made to improved nutritional quality of meals served in schools. CWN and our sister program California Project LEAN have expertise available to guide your team to effectively work with school districts, wellness committees, parents and youth to facilitate these changes to become compliant with the new federal rules. For more information please contact us at

CWN Director of Research and Evaluation demonstrates effectiveness of SNAP-Ed in Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

Sharon Sugerman, Director of Research and Evaluation at the Center for Wellness and Nutrition, recently co-authored an article published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB) for the sixth time, making her a Silver Level Author of JNEB. This latest article shares the results of an evaluation which examined among low-income mothers the consumption of fruits and vegetables, high-fat foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages and overall diet quality in relation to levels of reach of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) interventions across 2,907 California census tracts. Results showed that mothers from high SNAP-Ed reach census tracts ate more cups of fruits and vegetables, consumed fewer calories from high-fat foods, and drank fewer cups of sugar-sweetened beverages. The abstract is available here.


Los Angeles Inspires Healthy Communities Using Youth-led Participatory Action Research

Engaging youth using Youth-led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) is a growing public health approach to address nutrition and obesity-related illnesses, especially among United States Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education program (SNAP-Ed) implementing agencies. In California, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health provided funding to community-based organizations to conduct four youth-led nutrition education and obesity prevention projects, each using a youth-led participatory action research framework. The projects focused on increasing access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables, increasing daily physical activity opportunities, and decreasing consumption of sugary beverages.

The Public Health Institute’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition (CWN) worked in partnership with Converge Research and Training to examine project implementation, successes, and challenges to inform and refine future youth engagement programs for Los Angeles County.

A variety of research methods were used to assess the YPAR projects, including youth focus groups, key informant interviews, and organizational assessments. CWN discovered factors that contributed to successful implementation of the YPAR framework, innovative use of the framework, and how the framework contributed to improving opportunities to be healthy at the individual, family, school, organizational, and community levels.

This newest report in the series highlights the collective impact and comprehensive approach of the YPAR projects in Los Angeles County. These projects strategically connecting schools with their larger communities and leverages genuine youth and adult partnerships in supporting youth voice for healthy community change, in communities that need it the most.

Click here to view the report. 

Interpretive Guide to the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework Released by USDA

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP‐Ed) Evaluation Framework Interpretive Guide was released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on June 6, 2016. For the first time, SNAP-Ed will have a standardized method to report outcome evaluation findings from its programs across all states. The Framework is a set of 51 evaluation indicators that represent positive outcomes associated with SNAP-Ed guiding principles. Each indicator has two or more measureable outcomes that will enable SNAP-Ed to evaluate and report combined program effectiveness outcomes at a state and national level to funders. In order to merge data, standards for outcomes, measures to use, and methods for tracking success, developing SNAP-Ed objectives, and reporting program evaluation have been established. The Interpretive Guide documents this information. The Framework was first developed and piloted in the SNAP-Ed Western Region beginning in 2013. Former and present Center for Wellness and Nutrition staff have been instrumental in the development of the both the Framework and the Interpretive Guide. Sharon Sugerman, Public Health Institute Center for Wellness and Nutrition Director of Research and Evaluation, is both one of the editors and a co-author of the Interpretive Guide. The Interpretive Guide, as well as a collection of stories showing how the Framework has been used to create accountability, measure success, and report results, can be downloaded at

SNAP-Ed is designed to increase the likelihood that, given a limited budget, low-income people eat a healthy diet and achieve a physically active lifestyle as recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020. SNAP-Ed is carried out in thousands of different sites across the United States. It is conducted through a combination of educational classes and presentations, social marketing, and policy, systems, and environmental change interventions in the food and physical activity arenas. The Framework is built around the Social-Ecological Model as expressed in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Indicators at the Individual, Environmental Settings, and Sectors of Influence levels lead to indicators of change at the Population level. In FFY17, FNS SNAP-Ed Coordinators identified seven priority indicators for evaluation and reporting. All SNAP-Ed programs will be strongly encouraged to report on four core national priority Framework indicators and at least one additional indicator.