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What’s New


Graduate Fellow FreshWorks Reports

New Staff

New Projects

New Publication


Graduate Fellow

lauren 1Lauren has joined Samuels Center as a UC Berkeley MPH student intern for the summer. At the Samuels Center, Lauren supports data collection, analysis and reporting for Fresno County’s NEOP Program and Marin County’s Access to Quality Child Care and Healthy Eating Active Living projects, among others. Prior to her studies at UC Berkeley, Lauren served as a Community Health Volunteer with Peace Corps Ecuador, worked on local farms in Boston, and coordinated a clinical study at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Her research interests include community-centered efforts to increase safe access to healthy food options and inclusive and efficient utilization of federal food assistance programs. When not in the classroom or at work, Lauren can be found in her garden, playing soccer, or trying out new recipes with fresh produce.


 California FreshWorks Evaluation Findings Released!

In order to better understand and maximize FreshWorks’ impact, The California Endowment commissioned a two-year evaluation of the program’s food access, social, and economic outcomes. The evaluation team, led by Samuels Center, PCV InSight, Dr. Allison Karpyn of the University of Delaware, and Dr. Karen Glanz of the University of Pennsylvania, documented the development and implementation of FreshWorks while identifying key lessons and insights. Given that FreshWorks is an early example of a state-level fresh food financing initiative, the evaluation provides an opportunity to inform the greater healthy food access movement going forward. To ensure a comprehensive evaluation design, the evaluation team collaborated with key partners, including The California Endowment and Capital Impact Partners, to refine the evaluation plan, methods, and outcomes to be assessed.

The evaluation focused on the impact of three FreshWorks investments made with the purpose of increasing access to healthy food. The evaluation examined three new Northgate González Markets which received New Markets Tax Credit financing through FreshWorks. Northgate González Markets is an independent chain that operates over 40 stores in the southern California region.

The FreshWorks evaluation findings are presented as a series of three reports:


 Our New Staff 

Samuels Center welcomes Cailey Gibson to our team!


 Caily -7306 2018 2             

                                                                                                       Cailey Gibson



New Projects

Capital Impact Partners
Evaluation of the Michigan Good Food Fund (MGFF)                                                                                                    The Michigan Good Food Fund is a $30 million public-private partnership loan fund that provides financing and technical assistance to good food enterprises across the food value chain to benefit underserved communities across Michigan.      MGFF works to increase access to healthy food and drive economic development and job creation while promoting equity, environmental stewardship, and local sourcing of Michigan food.                                                                               Capital Impact Partners, fund administrator of the MGFF, engaged the Samuels Center to conduct a mixed method evaluation examining two years of the program’s operations. Working closely with the MGFF Core Partners, the evaluation team (which includes Insight at Pacific Community Ventures, Allison Karpyn and Karen Glanz) is also working with local organizations to implement a locally driven data collection effort. The evaluation also aligns with Michigan’s shared measurement work and is responsive to the Michigan Good Food Charter.

Evaluation of the Hidden Villa Internship Program                                                                                                       Samuels Center is partnering with Hidden Villa, a nonprofit educational organization, to evaluate its Internship Program. Using a mixed-method design, we are designing and conducting a survey and group discussion with former Hidden Villa interns to measure the impact of the program on participants, including interns’ leadership and career development.

Child Care Nutrition and Physical Activity Focus Groups 
Choose Health L.A. Child Care

Seven focus groups were conducted to evaluate the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Division of Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health’s (LACDPH) efforts to increase nutrition and physical activity knowledge and practices among licensed and license exempt child care providers through a series of training and coaching sessions. The program also aimed to foster policy development and implementation to ultimately improve healthy eating and physical activity patterns among children in childcare. The purpose of the focus groups was to understand providers perceptions of the effectiveness of the training and coaching, the successes and challenges in implementing changes to improve the food and physical activity environment, and suggestions on ways to improve their training and coaching experience.

Evaluation of the Mandela/Credibles SNAP Incentive Program
Mandela/Credibles SNAP Incentive Program is a multi-sector, evidence-based approach to increase the purchase and consumption of locally-sourced fruits and vegetables by low-income Alameda County, California SNAP-eligible consumers.  We are working with Mandela MarketPlace to develop and implement  an evaluation plan and provide evaluation support to understand the impact of Mandela/Credibles SNAP Incentive Program on patient’s social outcomes and health as measured by changes in BMI and perceptions related to healthy food access.

Reducing Early Childhood Obesity (RECO) Collective Impact Evaluation
We are partnering with Abt Associates on the Reducing Early Childhood Obesity (RECO) Collective Impact Evaluation to examine the collective impact of First 5 LA investments in lowering the rates of childhood obesity in LA County.  As part of this multi-faceted evaluation, we are working to describe the extent to which First 5 LA RECO investments are reaching the intended beneficiaries. This involves collecting detailed information about the scope of First 5 LA RECO investments through grantee reports and in-depth interviews in order to assess the experiences of participants and providers relative to the investments, and examining implementation successes and challenges, for individual investments and collectively across the RECO investments.

Sonoma County Department of Health Services                                                                                                  SOFIT and SOPLAY SNAP-Ed Physical Activity Assessments                                                                                    In the fall of 2017, Samuels Center worked with the Sonoma County Department of Health Services to conduct SOFIT and SOPLAY observations of 5th grade physical education classes conducted by classroom teachers and also collect safe routes to school student tally data for grades K – 6. The purpose of the assessments was to provide SNAP‐Ed eligible schools with data to drive school wellness policy and program planning.



New Publications

Creating healthier afterschool environments in the Healthy Eating Active Communities program: 
A case study of afterschool practices from a five-year community training and technical assistance intervention shows the promise of policy change for promoting healthier afterschool environments

Authors: Arnell J. Hinkle and Sallie Yoshida, New Directions for Youth Development. 2014.143 (2014): 45-55.

This paper describes the HEAC afterschool sector initiative, reviews findings from the nutrition component of the HEAC afterschool evaluation, and concludes with strategies that were used to implement the five-year training and technical assistance intervention initiative.

Policy Improves What Beverages Are Served to Young Children in Child Care 

Authors:  Lorrene D. Ritchie, PhD, RD; Sushma Sharma, PhD; Ginny Gildengorin, PhD; Sallie Yoshida, DrPH, RD; Ellen Braff-Guajardo, JD, MEd; Patricia Crawford, DrPH, RD.  J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Sep 11.

The aim of this study was to evaluate changes in beverages served to children aged 2 to 5 years by comparing cross sectional statewide samples of child-care sites before (in 2008) and after (in 2012) the California and federal child care beverage policies were implemented.

Drinking Water in California Child Care Sites Before and After 2011–2012 Beverage Policy

Authors:  Lorrene D. Ritchie, PhD, RD; Sallie Yoshida, DrPH, RD; Sushma Sharma, PhD; Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH; Elyse Homel Vitale, MPH; Ken Hecht, JD. Preventing Chronic Disease, 12 (2015).

This study assessed the extent to which access to water changed in California after federal and state child care beverage policies were instituted in 2011 and 2012. Among the study’s sample, access to water improved significantly pre and post policy implementation.

Is Scratch-Cooking a Cost-Effective Way to Prepare Healthy School Meals with US Department of Agriculture Foods?

Authors:  Gail Woodward-Lopez, MPH, RD; Janice Kao, MPH, RD; Kristin Kiesel, PhD; Markell Lewis Miller, MPH; Maria Boyle, MS, RD; Soledad Drago-Ferguson, MPH; Ellen Braff-Guajardo, JD; Patricia Crawford, DrPH, RD.  J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Sep;114(9):1349-58.  

The aim of this study was to determine determine whether school lunch entrées made in a district from basic or raw USDA Foods ingredients can be healthier and less expensive to prepare than those sent to external processors.