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Jobseekers Get a Boost from Nutrition Education!

CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE (CFHL, UCCE) has been an integral part of JobTrain, a nonprofit education and training institution located in Menlo Park, for over eight years. JobTrain provides career training in medical assisting, culinary arts, certified nursing assistant (CNA), carpentry, building maintenance, and IT support and services, enabling students to move out of unemployment and poverty and into careers and self-sufficiency.

CFHL Jobtrain
Based on 2018 SNAP-Ed figures, 59% of all San Mateo County adults are obese or overweight and an estimated 68,000 county residents are food insecure. To address these health concerns among the JobTrain students, CFHL, UCCE facilitates a four-part series of the food resource management curriculum Plan, Shop, Save and Cook (PSSC).  In these lessons, JobTrain students learn about MyPlate, shopping on a budget, preparing healthy meals and snacks for families, reading food labels, and the importance of physical activity. These valuable life skills compliment the vocational training they receive at JobTrain.

For over eight years, CFHL, UCCE Educator Elaine Silver has been leading the PSSC series in-person. However, in late June 2020, Elaine began delivering these same lessons via Zoom when the curriculum series first became available in the virtual format, allowing JobTrain students to continue building these important life skills during strict COVID stay-at-home orders. 

Since October 2020, 128 students have benefited from the virtual lessons. When surveyed, adults who participated in the PSSC series at Job Train showed statistically significant improvements in all of the food resource management (FRM) behaviors measured, which include planning meals, comparing unit prices, shopping with a list, considering healthy food choices when feeding their families, and using nutrition facts labels. Overall, 88% of adults reported improving at least one FRM behavior with improvements ranging from 43% comparing unit prices more often to 60% using nutrition facts more often. In addition, 28% of participants reported running out of food less often before the end of the month – suggesting they were more food secure after participating in the PSSC series.

JobTrain students participating in the PSSC series are also encouraged to be physically active with free parking passes offered by San Mateo County Public Health through their Park Rx Program. These free parking passes encourages families to spend time in nature to improve their health and well-being.

Asked about the impact these virtual classes have had on student’s lives, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

Here is what students and staff at JobTrain have to say about the Nutrition Classes:

“Working with Elaine and the Nutrition program from CalFresh Healthy Living has been a wonderful experience. Students look forward to these classes each week, and I love to see how excited they get when they learn about new ways to incorporate healthy practices into their everyday life. As a Culinary Arts teacher, it is also helpful to have many aspects of the students training reinforced by Elaine’s Workshops.” Emily Phillips, Culinary Arts Instructor

Elaine's workshop has been very beneficial for the students at JobTrain.  They utilize her suggestions on nutrition, saving techniques for food and applying healthy living for the student and their families.  Elaine's workshops are relevant for my students who will be entering the healthcare field, taking care of and educating patients on health.  We appreciate all her efforts!” Xavier Gabut, CNA Instructor.

 I started cooking healthier meals for my family, including veggies”.

 “Some of the changes I’ve made is that I now look at the unit price, just to make sure I am getting my money’s worth.  Also, I have started taking a grocery list with me so that I can make sure I can stay in budget and not buy things that I do not need”

“I now make MyPlate when I eat using the MyPlate portions, and it makes me feel healthy. I do grocery shopping list and it has saved me time.”

CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE is honored to be a part of the wonderful work JobTrain offers to the community.


By Elaine Silver - CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE
San Mateo / San Francisco Counties Nutrition Educator