October 2020 Newsletter

View in Browser

Freshly Made: School Meals During COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools had to quickly innovate and adapt in order to provide necessary services to students. When Connecticut schools closed the week of March 16, 2020, it was no longer possible to continue serving meals in school building cafeterias. As a result, food service professionals throughout Connecticut and across the country quickly rose to the challenge of organizing and finding ways to continue to distribute meals.
This new Rudd Center report, in collaboration with the UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health and the Connecticut State Department of Education, shares information about how Connecticut school districts continued serving meals to students and their families between March and June of 2020, with a focus on the challenges encountered by food service directors and the innovations and best practices developed to overcome them.

Read the full report here

Recent Publications

The Hunger-Obesity Paradox: Exploring Food Banking System Characteristics and Obesity Inequities Among Food-Insecure Pantry Clients

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 11% of American households experience food insecurity, with that number currently reaching 44% as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. Over the years, the food banking system has evolved to respond to food insecurity, obesity, and diet-related illnesses, but when looking at people within the food pantry client population, there are notable disparities. Long term food pantry users, as well as Latinx and Black clients, have higher rates of both food insecurity and obesity when compared to short term users and white users.
This study, lead by Kristen Cooksey-Stowers, former postdoctoral fellow at the Rudd Center, reports on in-depth interviews conducted with 10 key stakeholders (e.g., food bank directors, food bank board members, advocates, elected officials) who are familiar with the food banking system in a professional capacity. The data reveals that both structural and social characteristics of the food banking system play a role in health disparities.

Read the full study here

A Qualitative Study of Parents With Children 6 to 12 Years Old: Use of Restaurant Calorie Labels to Inform the Development of a Messaging Campaign

Beginning in May 2018, chain restaurants with 20 or more locations in the United States were required to post calorie information on their menus along with a statement regarding daily recommended calories. However, little is known about the influence these labels have on what parents and children order.
This study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, utilized focus groups and interviews where researchers shopped with participants to understand parents’ perceptions and use of calorie labels. Findings indicate that many parents do not understand the calorie information and believe that only people with health issues need to be concerned about nutrition.

Read the full study here

Rudd Center In The News

The Kids Aren't All Right: COVID-19 Fueled Stress Eating, Inequities, Lack of Fitness Expected to Boost Obesity, Experts Say
Featured: UConn Rudd Center

Good Public-Health News, For Once: Far Fewer Kids are "Heavy Drinkers" of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Than in the Early Aughts
Featured: Marlene Schwartz, Director

Pandemic Pushes U.S. Child Hunger to the Brink
Featured: Marlene Schwartz, Director

Ocean Spray Builds on Viral Attention With First National Hispanic Marketing Campaign
Featured: UConn Rudd Center

What's Simmering With Our Friends?

State of Childhood Obesity: Prioritizing Children's Health During the Pandemic
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

One in seven U.S. youth have obesity, according to the National Survey of Children’s Health (ages 10-17). The data are included in a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, State of Childhood Obesity: Prioritizing Children’s Health During the Pandemic, available at www.stateofchildhoodobesity.org. The report examines the latest national and state-by-state data on childhood obesity rates, includes expert perspectives and community stories, and offers policy recommendations for prioritizing children’s health throughout recovery. This year’s report also connects the ongoing obesity epidemic to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights how these two crises intersect. Watch a video with President & CEO Rich Besser and Senior Program Officer Jamie Bussel to learn more and follow the hashtag #StateofChildhoodObesity.

Full text of the report is available here

School Nutrition, Food Procurement, & Equitable Community Development
The Praxis Project

The complexity of the food system offers opportunities for advancing health equity by focusing not only on the nutritional quality of food served in schools, but also the sourcing practices of those foods. Providing access to nutritious food in K-12 institutions that is sourced in alignment with the values of food justice and racial equity can promote overall health and well-being for students and communities. The Praxis Project's new brief highlights how nutrition policy and procurement in K-12 institutions can advance health, justice, sustainability, equity, and community power.  

Access the brief here.

In the Market: Hartford Job Opportunity

The Hartford Culinary Collaborative is seeking a new person to bring together several food justice organizations, social benefit ventures, and for profit businesses across Hartford through a new Food Catalyst position. The Food Catalyst’s primary objectives are to support food based businesses and strengthen the food ecosystem in Hartford. Working under the direction of reSET, the Catalyst will coordinate with members of the Culinary Collaborative to support startup entrepreneurs as they launch and grow their food businesses and navigate the landscape of support services available in the region.

View the full job description here.

Thanks a Bunch!

Before the pandemic hit, 1 in 7 kids in the U.S. lived with hunger. As schools and businesses close and family budgets are stretched thin, that number is rising. This new thank you video from No Kid Hungry shares the stories of those impacted by the pandemic and documents the challenges being faced as a result. Thank you to all the food service workers and community partners that have been working tirelessly since COVID hit to ensure families get meals!

Watch the video here

News to Chew On

The Counter
Does the American Diet Make Us More Vulnerable to COVID-19?

Young YouTube Influencers are Increasingly Marketing Junk Food to Fellow Kids, Study Finds
Warning Labels Can Keep People From Buying Sugary Drinks
Civil Eats
Nutrition Education is Helping Low-Income Families Eat Healthier

Washington Post
Public Schools are Rethinking the Logistics of an Increasingly Crucial Function: Feeding Students

Economic Inequality is Killing the Food System

New York Times
Studies Begin to Untangle Obesity’s Role in COVID-19

USA Today
Why Partisan Politics Keeps 14 Million Hungry Children from Getting the Food They Need