SAREP Grant: Expanding Education to Underserved Communities through UCANR Programs: Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Master Gardener Program, and Master Food Preserver Program

SAREP Grant: Expanding Education to Underserved Communities through UCANR Programs: Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Master Gardener Program, and Master Food Preserver Program

Five groups of parents participated in a series of workshops from the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), Master Gardener (MG) and Master Food Preserver (MFP) Programs. The series was part of a grant for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP). Twelve workshops per group were provided at the Victor Elementary School District Parent Resource Center (VESD) and Middle College High School. Four of the five groups conducted workshops in Spanish to reach under-served communities in San Bernardino County. Kits provided an opportunity to practice skills alongside the educators during workshops or afterward in their homes.

The EFNEP workshops consisted of a series of 9 lessons including topics such as reading the food label, food safety, MyPlate, stretching the food dollar, importance of exercise, limiting salt, sugar and fat. A kit provided ingredients to prepare Cowboy Caviar and Apple Salad recipes.  The in person workshop included a live demonstration and kits to prepare Apple Salad. Virtual workshops included live food demonstration via Zoom while parents made the recipes in their homes. Graduates of the EFNEP program (n=37) received a cookbook and certificate of graduation.

MFP and MG workshops followed the EFNEP program alternating each week. Victor Elementary School District held an in person hands on activity making three tiered herb gardens. Participants received pots, soil, seeds, transplants and cuttings during the workshop. All participants went home with their new garden and tips on maintenance. The workshop was repeated virtually for the Middle College High School parents and VESD via Zoom. Parents received kits at their school sites and watched the live demonstration with time for questions at the end. The last MG workshop was Growing Cool/Warm Season Vegetables. Parents learned how to care for vegetables and which grew best in their home climate of the high desert or city of San Bernardino. They were given a binder with information about growing and maintaining vegetables, a pot, Popsicle sticks and a sharpie to label their vegetables, seeds for carrots, peas and radishes, and tote bag.

The Master Food Preserver program provided two workshops for parents. Each workshop emphasized food safety importance including proper storage of food, sanitation and hand washing. The first workshop, refrigerator pickling included a live demonstration walking parents through the entire process. Parents were given a kit containing carrots, jalapenos, garlic, pickling salt and spices, a container, a bottle of vinegar and the recipe to take home to replicate the demonstration. Options were provided to create the recipe either sweet or salty depending on preference. The next workshop consisted of making mixed berry freezer jam. The kit included a bag of frozen mixed berries, a container, sugar, pectin and recipe. Volunteers walked parents through the process and they took home their homemade jam.

All workshops reinforced food safety, saving money when food shopping, growing and preserving food. These topics addressed food insecurity, which is something families in San Bernardino struggle with. Parents were excited to participate in all workshops and share photos of making and growing food at home. Parents who attended all twelve workshops received a certificate of completion (n=18).


“I definitely enjoyed the nutrition classes and additional workshops.  At my age, you reminded me the importance of building muscle and maintaining strong bones.  I try to read the nutrition labels and have added more water to my diet. In addition, I have tried to implement certain habits to my daughters. I am also happy to report that two of my plants are still alive -lol. Not bad, I think. However, the sun and heat make it hard.  I can go on... but I honestly enjoyed being a part of your class and workshops.  I even shared your link with one of my cousins.  The one with the jam and other tutorials.” – Participant


“I enjoyed the workshops very much! It was nice to receive all the information instead of having to look for it and being able to ask questions and of course, I loved the supplies that were provided. It made everything a lot easier!”

 - Participant