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December 2013


Project LEAN (Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition) has been busy in 2013.  From engaging parents in Local School Wellness Policy efforts, to working with CA4Health counties as they improve their beverage environment to continued partnership with our allies in health, we look forward to new and exciting opportunities in 2014.

To you and yours, happy holidays!

In health,
Project LEAN

a1Program Changes at Project LEAN-
Welcome Dr. Lynn Silver!
Project LEAN, a program of the Public Health Institute (PHI), is pleased to announce that Lynn Silver MD, MPH, is joining Project LEAN as Program Director. She will also serve as a senior advisor for chronic disease and obesity for PHI. Dr. Silver will build upon Project LEAN's strong legacy of success achieved over more than two decades, particularly in the policy arena. Read more
Thank You, Cyndi!
After more than two decades with the Public Health Institute (PHI), most of which was with California Project LEAN (Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition), Program Director Cyndi Guerra Walter stepped down to join the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on October 31st, where she will continue to focus on obesity prevention.   Read more 
Engaging parents to advocate for healthier food and beverage options and physical activity is a promising strategy for improving the school environment for students.


California Project LEAN (CPL) provided its Parents in Action! Trainings to English- and Spanish-speaking parents in four communities (City Heights, Coachella, Sacramento, and South Kern County) of The California Endowment's (TCE) Building Healthy Communities Initiative (BHC).  Read more
The California Endowment (TCE) funds California Project LEAN
Project LEAN is set to build on its success!  Read more
CA4Health: Madera County Success
Water and unflavored milk replace other drinks served to 1,500 children.  Read more
Girl at Playground
Program Changes at Project LEAN-Welcome Dr. Lynn Silver!
Thank You, Cyndi!
Parents in Action: Effective Engagement in School Wellness
The California Endowment Funds California Project LEAN
CA4Health: Madera County Success
Boy eating apple
a1conttProgram Changes at Project LEAN-Welcome Dr. Lynn Silver! (continued)


"Lynn Silver has enormous vision and experience in addressing obesity and other chronic diseases, now among the deadliest and costliest health concerns across the globe," says Mary Pittman, CEO and President of the Public Health Institute. Dr. Silver brings a wealth of expertise to PHI, including her most recent position as health officer in Sonoma County and previously as assistant health commissioner in New York City.


"On behalf of the Project LEAN team, we welcome Dr. Silver and look forward to continuing to advance strong and effective public health efforts," said Katherine Hawksworth, Program Manager for Project LEAN.


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a2contThank You, Cyndi! (continued)

"I've had the opportunity to work with a great team at Project LEAN," Cyndi said. "I've also had the chance to collaborate with partners who have served as an inspiration to me, including rural and small CA4Health counties we work with to help improve beverage environments through their Community Transformation Grants."

"I am also honored to have worked on a Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant to increase access to healthier drinks in California's heartland - the San Joaquin Valley - where I grew up," continued Cyndi. "And I've enjoyed overseeing Project LEAN's training and technical assistance support to The California Endowment's grantees working on Building Healthy Communities and Healthy Eating, Active Communities as well as Kaiser's Healthy Eating Active Living Initiative. I look forward to continuing my work with these partners and forging new collaborations in my next job." 


"Cyndi leaves behind a strong legacy at Project LEAN that has helped prompt state legislation to improve the nutritional quality of foods and drinks sold in California schools and has supported the development and implementation of policy and system changes that make it easier for communities to eat healthier and be more physically active," said Mary Pittman, CEO and President of the Public Health Institute. "We wish Cyndi well and thank her for leaving Project LEAN as a strong program with deep capacity to carry on its important work."


Project LEAN will continue to serve in its leadership capacity by offering its expertise, training and resources. For more information, visit www.CaliforniaProjectLEAN.org

a3contParents in Action: Effective Engagement in School Wellness (continued) 

CPL utilized its Parents in Action: A Guide to Engaging Parents in Local School Wellness Policy
and 6-lesson curriculum, Parent Lesson Plans: Advocating for Healthier School Environments to conduct the trainings. The intent of the trainings is to teach parents how to advocate for healthier foods and beverages and more physical activity through the implementation and strengthening of their Local School Wellness Policy. 


A just-completed evaluation of CPL's trainings and ongoing technical assistance provides the evidence that parents who have received the trainings gained new skills and confidence and felt more comfortable to advocate for healthier foods and beverages and more physical activity in their children's schools.


The evaluation, conducted by The Sarah Samuels Center for Public Health Research & Evaluation and which included surveys and focus groups, showed statistically significant increases in the trained parents':

  • Knowledge of the National Child Nutrition Programs such as the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs as well as the California Nutrition Standards and Physical Education requirements;
  • Ability to help reduce sugary drinks at school;
  • Knowledge of Project LEAN's four-step advocacy process, which includes:
    • Pick a problem and find a solution
    • Identify the policy players
    • Build your action plan
    • Evaluate how your group is doing; and
  • Awareness of and involvement in their local school district wellness committee and/or served in other leadership roles.  
Listed below is a sampling of what CPL-trained parents have accomplished thus far:

City Heights

Parents, in partnership with teachers, are actively participating in school-based Health & Wellness Councils developing Healthy Party and Classroom Rewards guidelines. They started student Run/Walk Clubs and a Smart Choice Rewards program.  Parent leaders have also helped submit successful grant requests for funding to sustain and expand these parent-led programs that increase physical activity and recognize that healthy behaviors lead to student success.


Parents presented to the Food Service Director and Wellness Lead about priorities they identified related to nutrition and physical activity. Parents now participate in the district's Wellness Quote Committee and have helped to revise their wellness policy-recently approved by the School Board-with stronger language that now includes the elimination of flavored milk at breakfast and increased access to water.

One parent, who now participates on the district's Coordinated School Health Committee and who was successful in reaching out to other parents, teachers, and the school principal, initiated the development of a school-based Wellness Committee that developed and is now implementing a school-site wellness policy addressing classroom celebrations, birthdays, and rewards. 

South Kern 

Parents are eager to join the district's Wellness Council and have increased involvement in their school sites. They are actively advocating for revisions to the wellness policy that would remove Quote

sugary drinks and increase access to water, improve physical education and ensure continuation of the breakfast in the classroom program. 



To read or download the report click here: Report 

a4contThe California Endowment (TCE) funds California Project LEAN (continued)
Based on its continued success in engaging parents in support of school wellness, The California Endowment recently awarded a grant to California Project LEAN to continue this work with parents and other partners. Through leadership and advocacy capacity building, these key stakeholders will be equipped to work with schools and districts to strengthen Local School Wellness Policies and improve the nutrition and physical activity environments on campus. Thank you to The California Endowment for its continued support of this important work.
a5contCA4Health: Madera County Success (continued)  

One of the 12 CA4Health Counties, Madera County, had recent success. The Madera County Public Health Department in collaboration with the Community Action Partnership of Madera County and Head Start Centers across four Central Valley counties recently adopted strong healthy beverage standards to help give children a head start to a healthier life. As of September 1st, 1,500 children through age five now drink water and unflavored milk (and breast milk for those up to 12 months) instead of soda, sports drinks, juice and juice drinks, and chocolate or other flavored milk. CA4Health's new video chronicles the process. Congratulations to Madera County for a job well done!  

To view a video of Madera County's success, click here: http://vimeo.com/73778315



About CA4Health

The Public Health Institute (PHI) was awarded a Community Transformation Grant to implement CA4Health in 42 small/rural California counties with a population of 500,000 or less. CA4Health seeks to reduce health disparities and provides funding to 12 small/rural counties and non-financial resources to 30 others.
CA4Health focuses on the following four strategic directions:

California Project LEAN serves as the Healthy Eating Active Living Strategic Direction Lead providing support to the CA4Health counties as they work to  facilitate the adoption of healthier beverage standards for meetings, vending and procurement in places like schools, community organizations and government. Check out California Project LEAN's Beverage Standards 

About California Project LEAN
California Project LEAN, a program of the Public Health Institute, works to advance nutrition and physical activity policy in schools and communities in order to prevent obesity and its associated chronic diseases. California Project LEAN efforts center on youth, parent and resident empowerment approaches, policy and environmental change strategies, and community-based solutions that improve nutrition and physical activity environments. For more information, go to www.CaliforniaProjectLEAN.org.
About the Public Health Institute
The Public Health Institute, an independent nonprofit organization, is dedicated to promoting health, well-being and quality of life for people throughout California, across the nation and around the world. For more information, go to www.phi.org.