A big event for South Merced! Our Produce on the Go food truck is going to be featured on an Univision Health Week program, and in its honor, a health fair was held at South Merced's Golden Valley Health Center. Participants included: registrants for Covered California, dancing fruit, hula hoop dancers, and (my favorite!) a class of children who handed out samples of tasty and nutritious smoothies.
We took advantage of this opportunity to bring some students out to recruit participants for a study to evaluate the National Cancer Institute's healthy eating text messaging program.
For more information about the food truck / mobile grocery, check out: http://makesomeonehappy.us/projects.html#potg
Kicking off July events was a weeklong trip to Los Angeles, where I was hosted by the lovely Dr. Deborah Glik of UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health. I spent the week shuttling between the Westwood campus and East LA, immersing myself in projects funded by the UCLA-USC Center for Population Health and Health Disparities (http://www.ph.ucla.edu/cphhd/).
The first project involved a nutrition education curriculum for high school students who were part of the YMCA's youth leadership training institute. Two days a week, a team of energetic and inspiring UCLA undergrads goes to East LA to deliver the curriculum that they have spent the previous week adapting from a longer program. I pitched in to talk about sugar-sweetened beverages and making better choices by reading food labels.
I also got to visit a remodeled corner store - it used to be a standard inner-city market, dark, dank, and selling mostly processed and unhealthy foods. Through the CPHHD, the owners received a substantial grant and assistance that helped them transform physically (see the beauty in the second picture!) in order to be able to sell nutritious foods. This project aimed to address food access inequalities that plague low-income, largely minority populations such as those who live in East Los Angeles.
A highlight of the week was shadowing Rosa-Elena Garcia, the Project Manager for the community survey to assess the impact of the various corner store transformations. We are hoping to field a similar survey in Merced and spending one day with her helped me to see just how massive of an undertaking it is when you want to do it right!
It was an exhausting but exhilarating visit and I am excited to continue to work with this team and to bring similar community-based intervention research to the San Joaquin Valley. A huge thanks to my "Dream Team" at UCLA: Deborah Glik, Mike Prelip, and Alex Ortega, for a wonderful week!
A. SUSANA RAMÍREZ
Public Health Communication
sramirez37 at ucmerced dot edu