California Project LEAN

Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition



Find out the latest news in California from Communities Putting Prevention to Work funded-initiatives. California Project LEAN's enews provides updates on the work that is being done by the California Department of Public Health and San Diego and Los Angeles counties to address nutrition, physical activity, and obesity. Read on to learn more about city and school district policies, community and school gardens, and the latest efforts to reduce excess sodium consumption.

Salt Shocker Videos Shake out Hidden Sodium

Salt videoThe Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's RENEW LA Initiative has identified excessive sodium consumption as a growing public health concern, stating that the average LA County resident consumes more than double the recommended daily amount of sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.


To help consumers lower their salt consumption, RENEW LA County has unveiled a series of "Salt Shocker" videos that reveal common foods and ingredients with surprising amounts of excess salt, such as ketchup, cottage cheese, canned vegetables, and processed meats. 


In addition to educating consumers and working with local schools, hospitals, and government agencies to reduce the amount of sodium in foods served at these facilities, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is a partner of the National Salt Reduction Initiative to dramatically reduce the amount of sodium in many packaged foods and restaurants meals.


Watch the vidoes and learn more about reducing sodium consumption at 

Strong  Nutrition Policies Change Environment in Los Angeles County

Choose Health LASouth El Monte has led the way in Los Angeles County by adopting what national public health experts are calling the strongest healthy vending and meeting policy in the state.


The policy includes standards for food and beverages sold or provided in city vending machines and at programs (such as afterschool programs and recreation centers), city meetings, and functions. It establishes the healthiest beverage standards of any city in the state by defining healthy beverages as those that do not have any added caloric sweeteners.


"As a mom and councilmember, I make health and wellness a priority so that the children of South El Monte - 36 percent of which are overweight - can have a better quality of life," said Councilwoman Angelica Garcia, who championed the policies.


While the City of South El Monte was the first to adopt a policy under RENEW LA County, the cities of El Monte, La Puente, and Huntington Park soon caught the wave toward healthy nutrition standards and passed similar policies. The City of El Monte added a requirement that city-run youth programs that are not primarily physical activity based will provide 10 minutes of physical activity for every 50 minutes of programming.

"These policies offer a great opportunity to shape lifetime habits of our children, because health behaviors and environments play a large role in the childhood obesity epidemic," said Suzanne Bogert, MS, RD, Project Director of RENEW LA County. Communities, businesses, health care providers, and governments can play a supportive role in providing helpful information and fostering environments that support parents' healthy choices.


View the four recently-passed policies here.


Visit for more information. 

Garden Education Growing in San Diego

Boy eating appleSan Diego County has launched five Regional Garden Education Centers (RGECs), community-based hubs for garden education where residents can take free classes to help them start or maintain school gardens and to convert lawns, yards, and small spaces into fruit and vegetable gardens. The centers will offer classes and hands-on experience in basic, community, and school gardening.

"Healthy eating can be a challenge due to rising food costs, lack of access to healthy produce, and prevalence of inexpensive yet highly processed foods," said Nick Macchione, Director, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. "Growing your own fruits and veggies is one way to eat healthier and stay active, both key strategies in preventing the serious toll of chronic diseases."

The five locations are Olivewood Gardens in National City, Solana Center in Encinitas, San Diego Youth Services at Spring Valley East Community Center, the International Rescue Committee locations in City Heights and Wild Willow Farm, and Education Center in south San Diego.

For more information, visit

Earlimart Board Passes Strong Wellness Policy 

Earlimart School District Food Service Director Clint Lara has taken the lead on improving the nutrition and physical activity environment at this 2,000-student, Pre-kindergarten through 8th grade district in the Central Valley's Tulare County.


The School Board of Earlimart School District approved a revised local school wellness policy on June 7th, thanks to the leadership of Lara, the support of Superintendent Sandra Rivera, and the assistance of district Wellness Committee members Susan Elizabeth of the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program and Jane Alvarado of California Project LEAN, a program of the California Department of Public Health and the Public Health Institute.


The revised Wellness Policy provides staff, students, and parents with clear guidelines on how to create a healthier environment to promote academic success. It covers issues such as water access, beverage standards, and farm to school. It details when and where nutrition education will take place and sets a goal to purchase at least 5% of produce from local growers. It sets standards for beverages provided and sold on campus and eliminates flavored milk (e.g., chocolate) and electrolyte replacement beverages (sports drinks) in middle schools. It also specifies nutrition standards for school fundraising and promotes more physical activity during and after school. 


Clint Lara's leadership serves as an example of how positive, sustainable changes in the nutrition and physical activity environment can be made in a school district.


This work was supported by a grant from The California Endowment and a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).



July 2011

Girl at Playground
In This Issue
Salt Shocker Videos
Nutrition Policies Change Environment in LA County
Garden Education Growing in San Diego
Earlimart Board Passes Strong Wellness Policy
Healthy Communities Receive Fudning Boost
Upcoming Events


Quick Links



City of South El Monte Healthy Vending and Meeting Policy 


City of El Monte Healthy Food and Nutrition Policy 


City of Huntington Park and Food and Beverage Vending Policy 


Healthy Communities Receive Funding Boost   


The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) awarded 24 grants totaling $1.04 million to local agencies, tribal governments, community programs, and school districts to promote public health considerations in planning, active transportation, and safe routes to school projects.


These grant programs are funded through two Healthy WorksSM initiatives at SANDAG: the Healthy Communities Campaign (12 grants) and Safe Routes to School Implementation (12 grants).  The grants are intended to promote public health through innovative community planning, the development of active transportation programs to support biking and walking, and the planning of safe routes to school. Click here for more information and a list of grantees.   




Upcoming Events 


7th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference

June 18-20, 2013

Long Beach, CA 

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California Project LEAN | PO Box 997377, MS 7211 | Sacramento | CA | 95899
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Photo of girl on playground by Tim Wagner