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Attorney General Bonta Announces $120,000 in Grants for Childhood Nutrition Research and Education in Disadvantaged California Communities

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the recipients of a $120,000 grant program to fund research and education around childhood nutrition and water consumption, with a particular focus on disadvantaged communities where childhood obesity, diabetes, and other health issues are more prevalent. The grants stem from a 2017 settlement with The Gatorade Company over the company’s misleading statements about water in a mobile video-game app that promoted Gatorade sports drinks to teens and young adults. 

“Nutrition is one of the key building blocks for a strong and healthy community, and as Attorney General, I’m committed to ensuring all Californians have access to the resources they need to learn about nutrition and healthy living,” said Attorney General Bonta. “When selecting the recipients of the Youth Beverage Consumer Education and Research Fund, we focused on proposals that would improve nutrition in communities where children have been most impacted by the adverse health effects of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods. I'm pleased to announce the six recipients, who will raise awareness around childhood nutrition and provide local communities with resources to make healthier choices.”

“Rooted in Nutrition” Fresno Cooking Class Project: Fresno Barrios Unidos will receive $24,000 to create a nutrition-based cooking class that will promote an understanding of and positive relationship with healthy food and beverage consumption in Fresno's predominately Latinx communities. The class will teach parents and their children about food and beverage sources, easy meals to cook at home, and the nutritional value of various beverage choices, with an emphasis on teaching nutritious recipes that are linked to the communities' ancestral roots. 

"Fresno Barrios Unidos is extremely grateful to be participants of the Youth Beverage Study. We have been working with youth and community to expand community gardens, educate youth on how to cook and use the foods grown, understand the idea that food is medicine, and empower youth to take an active role in creating healthier communities. We're also beginning to develop neighborhood farmer's markets and educational workshops as an extension of this work," said Alex Zubia, Food Sovereignty & Medicine Coordinator.

"The stuff we're learning about is super interesting. How to cook, what to cook, and how it affects our health. I am grateful Fresno Barrios Unidos has a Food Sovereignty program to teach us these things,” said Isaiah, Food Sovereignty Program Youth Participant.

City of Berkeley’s Study on Sugary Beverages Tax: The City of Berkeley will receive $19,000 to analyze the effects of its first-of-its-kind tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages. Since 2015, the City of Berkeley has invested $9.7 million in tax revenue to 11 community-based organizations that implement programs focused on promoting healthy behaviors, increasing water consumption, and decreasing the consumption of sugary beverages. The grant funding will allow the City of Berkeley to analyze the impact of these programs and to identify which strategies have been successful and sustainable for future community investments.

Program to Address Food Deserts in East Los Angeles: Legacy L.A. will receive $17,700 to build on the organization’s leadership program, which centers on young people living in the Ramona Gardens Community in Boyle Heights. The program will engage students from local high schools to lead a social justice campaign focused on research and education around the health impacts of unbalanced nutrition and the consumption of sugary snacks and beverages. The youth leaders will then develop an outreach and social media campaign to increase awareness about the harmful effects of these foods and sugary drinks in their high schools and the surrounding community.

"We are proud to work with the California Attorney General's Office to provide youth with leadership opportunities to develop and lead efforts to increase awareness about sugary drinks and impact to their health and community," said Lucy Herrera, Leadership Program Director.

Refillable Water Stations at Chula Vista Elementary School: Lauderbach Elementary School in the Chula Vista School District will receive $20,800 to install four refillable water stations on campus. In a district where many families do not have the financial means to secure home delivery water service or purchase bottled water, the grant funding will be used to broaden access to drinkable water and to further efforts to lower the number of children who have elevated BMIs, diabetes, and prediabetes as a result of reliance on sugary beverages.

“Lauderbach Elementary focuses on the whole child and historically makes efforts to improve our community’s relationship with health, nutrition and physical well-being.  We are delighted to have the support of the California Department of Justice with providing access to clean, filtered water to our community. Our scholars and families will benefit greatly from this significant contribution to our school campus," said Mayra C. Reyes, Associate Principal.   

Camino Scholars” K-8 Nutritional Tutoring Program: People’s Self-Help Housing will receive $24,000 to expand their nutritional curriculum for K-8 students at 11 learning centers located onsite at affordable housing properties in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. The revised nutritional curriculum will focus on “best practices” when purchasing and preparing foods, how to cultivate healthy eating habits, and mental health and wellness.

“This funding offers a practical and powerful way to support our students,” said Joanna Dominguez, Director of Education. “Nutritional habits begin at an early age and this program will provide students with the knowledge and resources to build healthy practices into their futures!” 

Student-Led Nutrition Program at Orange County Middle School: Marco Forster Middle School, in partnership with UC Irvine School of Education, will receive $14,500 to improve the health and efficacy of school lunches via student-led research regarding eating habits. Middle school students will be encouraged to share their own insight into school food quality as they design and collect data on school lunches. Students will then integrate their findings into the school lunch program through a partnership with staff and connect to the community by working with a local farm.  

Recipients for the Youth Beverage Consumer Education and Research Fund were selected from a large pool of competitive applications. The California Department of Justice thanks all those who applied for their commitment to studying and improving childhood nutrition across the state of California.