Carol Chase Huegli, associate division director of the Nutrition Services Division at the California Department of Education, reported that California has nearly 10,000 public schools, more than 1,000 school districts, and 58 counties, each with an office of education. Its 6.3 million students are exceptionally diverse, with Hispanics representing 52 percent of the student body, whites 26 percent, Asian Americans 8.6 percent, African Americans 6.5 percent, and the remainder consisting of a very wide range of ethnic groups. California schools serve 238 million breakfasts a year, 600 million lunches per year, and 2.7 million suppers for at-risk children per month, and the majority of its students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.

Budgets for education in California have been severely restricted, observed Chase Huegli, yet the state has exerted strong leadership in integrating nutrition education and food literacy into classrooms. California has developed a Nutrition Education Resource Guide that integrates nutrition into the curriculum, both during the school day and in before- and afterschool programs (California Department of Education, 2011). The guide includes nutrition competencies that are aligned with the California health education content standards (see Table 5-1). The competencies were reviewed by national, state, and local experts in nutrition, education, and food service, and they underwent a field review and survey by California public school teachers in 250 schools. The guide also includes recommended nutrition curricula resources, supplemental instructional materials, and guidance on implementing a nutrition education program.

TABLE 5-1 Nutrition Competencies Aligned with California Health Education Content Standards

Health Education Standards Nutrition Competencies

Essential Health Concepts Essential Nutrition Concepts
Analyzing Health Influences Analyzing Nutrition Influences
Accessing Valid Health Information Accessing Valid Nutrition Information
Interpersonal Communication to Enhance Health Interpersonal Communication About Nutrition
Decision Making About Health Decision Making for Nutrition Choices
Goal Setting Goal Setting for Nutrition
Practicing Health-Enhancing Behaviors Practicing Nutrition-Enhancing Behaviors
Health Promotion Nutrition Promotion

SOURCE: Chase Huegli, 2013.

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