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Campus Successes – Sacramento State

Student Leaders Personalize the CalFresh Healthy Living Program on Sacramento State’s Campus to Support Healthy Habits

California State University, Sacramento has a student population of more than 31,000, of those, 20,520 are SNAP-Ed eligible (qualifying by income). Student food insecurity is at 47.1%. CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL) nutrition education and policy, systems and environmental change locations include the Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS), SHCS’s Peer Health Educator Internship program, Crisis Assistance & Resource Education Support (CARES) CalFresh Outreach (CFO), and Associated Students Inc (ASI) Food Pantry. Leveraging partnerships and the funding received by these campus organizations strengthened CFHL outreach and participation.

The CFHL team on campus worked to create engaging ways for students to learn healthy nutrition habits. We wanted students to benefit in multiple ways, which included training student interns and student staff to create materials and lead classes. During the pandemic and the program beginning, we wanted to ensure that students would engage as much as possible. “Zoom Fatigue” was at its height in fall 2020. The target audience included all students, though we knew we wanted to specifically target those who would be at higher risk of food insecurity, by marketing to classes and groups on campus already in existence.

Within our Health and Wellness Promotion Department at SHCS, we often include student led programs and we planned to include CFHL within this goal. We hired a student assistant to create social media posts and videos for Harvest of the Month (HOTM) and longer videos to be used for our virtual lessons. Student assistants led and co-led 3 single sessions and 9 (3-series) series-based virtual sessions utilizing Leah’s Pantry curriculum series. We continued to have student involvement with our student Peer Health Educators supporting these classes with Registered Dietitian staff for 3 more sets of series-based classes throughout the year. When we returned to campus in-person in February 2022, we were excited to use our newly renovated teaching kitchen in the Health and Wellness Promotion department, named “The Cove”, to host our nutrition workshops.

Information from the CFO team was provided in the lessons for students to apply for food benefits. Hosting the lessons at The Cove further leveraged our funds to serve students and give them options when stretching their monthly food dollars with CalFresh and the campus food pantry.

Working as a CFHL student assistant was amazing. At the time it was a pilot program, so I had the creative liberty to adjust some of the wording of the presentations and classes, as well as create relevant IG content. That experience allowed me to practice explaining health information to people outside of the field, which was different than speaking to nutrition majors. Ultimately, it was a gentle way to build up some skills that my future employer really valued.

-Mercedes H.

With Peer Health Educators leading the presentations, creating reels, and providing resources, student participants were engaged and perhaps more willing to make sustainable changes in their own eating habits.  Using MyPlate, physical activity, eating on a budget, and grocery shopping tips students learned valuable and practical skills.

Student leaders were able to personalize presentations to be more applicable to Sacramento State student life. These leaders further developed their own cooking and public speaking skills, strengthening their future professional work. Having our student interns and assistants input when transitioning back to in-person classes and events was important to get a sense of what students wanted to see in classes and to create a more comfortable space for students. Once in-person, we were much better able to tell which sections of classes that students were most interested in learning more about and which felt less necessary.

It’s been such a fun and rewarding experience learning about all the services CalFresh has to offer, like stretching your dollars, rewards points, eating on a budget and so much more. Being able to educate students on CalFresh has taught me how impactful these resources can be on a person’s life.

-Leslie A.

During the pandemic we relied on more social media use than ever and creating cooking videos/reels that were well viewed on our Instagram. Our student assistants created videos to use during the virtual series-based classes. They also created Instagram Reels for HOTM @shcws Instagram which continue to be posted monthly.

With the help of student leaders, Sacramento State was able to implement CFHL activities in a way that appealed to students, and train students to advance the work.

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Campus Successes – Sacramento State

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