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Campus Successes – Chico State

Faculty Partnerships to Advance Healthy Living

The California State University, Chico (Chico State) campus reflects a diversifying class of students with ever increasing rates of low-income, ethnic diversity, first generation college student enrollment, and food insecurity.  The current campus student population is 17,000 students; of those students, 11,628 are considered SNAP-Ed eligible.  Approximately 50.2% of students on the campus struggle with food insecurity.

Preliminary findings from student focus groups conducted by CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL) staff in August 2022 showed an overwhelming amount of college students need access to resources for easy-to-prepare meals and snacks to pack for long days on campus.  According to the Basic Needs Survey (Bianco & Donatello, 2019), 58% of respondents reported they, or the other adults in their household, cut the size of their meals, or skipped meals, because there was not enough money for food. Of the respondents that answered yes to cutting the size of their meals, or skipping meals, over half (54.5%) said this happened some months but not every month, while 27.3% reported this happened almost every month.

In response to these findings, a partnership was formed between CalFresh Outreach (CFO), CFHL, and Chico State’s Public Health and Health Services Administration departments to educate and raise awareness of healthy snacking options or resources for students on campus. Additional findings indicated students engage better with content when it is promoted by students, for students. Thus, the idea was formulated to conduct student-led outreach events on campus. Aiming to infuse this concept into existing curriculum, the Health Promotion Techniques class (PHHA 369) was established as a platform for Days of Action to promote Healthy Snack Day (HSD). This course teaches Social Marketing and students are responsible for implementing a Social Marketing Campaign; as such, HSD seemed like the perfect opportunity to implement a real Public Health Example for the project. Days of Action are a great opportunity to reach large numbers of students!

In order to enhance our student reach, a partnership was formed with two Public Health and Health Services Administration (PHHA) faculty. They agreed to incorporate both Days of Action (HSD and ReThink Your Drink Day) in the Social Marketing unit of their course curriculum.  As part of this unit in Fall 2022, 57 students between two classes were assigned to plan and implement a HSD activity on campus. In Spring 2023, the classes will implement a ReThink Your Drink Day campaign.

The HSD campaign encompassed all five of the CFHL domains and targeted Chico State students where they Live, Work, Play, Eat, and Learn. Student teams under each domain were required to implement three different strategies utilizing existing event resources available on the HSD website. Some of the resources that were used included social media templates, pledge boards, and HSD recipe cards (Crunchy, Savory, Sweet, Spicy).

Each of the students were encouraged to promote the events with one of their other classes. Some students contacted their professors to email event information to all of their students, some presented during extracurricular club meetings they are involved with, and some presented in other classes. For social media, students customized the HSD social media templates with Chico State event information to generate interest in the upcoming activities or to promote healthy snacking.

During outreach events, the Chico State Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry and the CFO office was heavily featured to highlight as an available on-campus resource for students. HSD recipe cards were distributed to students and related ingredients typically available at the pantry were given out, including canned goods and local items from nearby farms. In addition, healthy snacks were distributed during each of the outreach events.

Overall, both student implementers and recipients received the information well and were interested in the messages being promoted. Participants were very interested in the recipe cards, in fact, multiple people asked if they could take more than one. One of the outreach teams shared that the recipe cards seemed to inspire people to want to make healthy snacks for themselves.

People were actually very interested in the recipe cards, in fact multiple people asked if they could take more than one. It seemed to inspire people to make healthy snacks.

Chico State Student Implementer Observation

In collaboration with 28 professors in PHHA, digital flyers related to HSD were sent to 290 students. Printed flyers were posted around campus and distributed to 66 students. Four different digital flyers posted on social media platforms reached 1,719 students, while polls relating to HSD conducted on Instagram reached 145 students. Additionally, an email survey relating to HSD was completed by 78 students. At this time, survey response data have not yet been analyzed or summarized. A LinkTree account with convenient access to Chico State CFO and the HSD Personal Recipe Finder had 43 profile views and 12 clicks on the recipe finder. Finally, 17 snack day pledge cards were completed.

By and large, Chico State PHHA HSD outreach events were hugely successful. Not only did they raise awareness for the student teams doing the outreach, but they also impacted the general student population.

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Campus Successes – Chico State

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