List of Stories
Teenagers' financial illiteracy is a current and growing national family economic trend and concern in the United States. Teens have access to and spend a great deal of money each year. A survey conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited indicates that today’s teens spend $179 billion annually (2006). In addition to personal spending, many teens purchase food and other items to be used by the entire family. The concern about teen financial illiteracy is supported by a national money management test of high school seniors that revealed an average score of 48.3%, a failing grade by standard grading systems (Jump$tart Coalition, 2008). High school seniors have little knowledge of money management, savings, investments, income and spending. The vast majority of students aged 16 to 22 have never taken a class in personal finance, with two-thirds admitting that they could benefit from more lessons on money management. Alarmingly, 9% were rolling over credit card debit each month (ASEC, 1999).
UCCE CalFresh education targets schools with more than 50 percent of students receiving free or reduced price school meals. (CalFresh is the name of the food assistance program formerly called food stamps.) The program aims to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, increase variety in food choices, and promote healthy lifestyles for youth. Teachers, youth program leaders, and other extenders at the participating sites are trained to deliver UCCE CalFresh nutrition curricula such as Reading Across MyPyramid, Happy Healthy Me, and Eating Healthy from Farm to Fork. UCCE CalFresh in Santa Clara County provides nutrition education curricula to 57 qualifying low-income schools and agencies who reach 4,500 children. CalFresh nutrition educators collect teacher evaluations annually to improve delivery and outcomes of the program.
An entire generation of California youth faces a lifetime of obesity, due, in part, to poor dietary choices and physical inactivity. Obesity reduces an adolescent’s quality of life, and can lead to life-shortening chronic health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Middle-school teachers asked Cooperative Extension educators for educational tools to assist students with healthier eating and becoming more physically active.
People who are most "food insecure"--those unable to use traditional means for acquiring and managing their family food supply--are at greater risk for obesity and poor health. That fact, confirmed by a recent UC study, is one reason that poor health is more common among low-income and minority populations. Obesity is not just a matter of personal health. It is a costly and deadly public health concern that affects economic productivity and state budgets as well as personal and family well-being.