1. MCH Workforce Development
  2. Funded Projects

Funded Projects

Maternal and Child Health Nutrition Training Program

Project Website

Grant Status: Completed

Training Category: MCH Nutrition Training Program

Project Director(s):

Barbara Laraia, RD, PhD
University of California, Berkeley
50 University Hall #7360
Berkeley, CA  94720
Phone: (510) 643-7896


Need to Address: The state of California is currently experiencing a crisis in the MCH Nutrition workforce. Over 23% of the state leadership are projected to have retired. This Training program will train short, medium and long-term MCH Nutrition leaders with the skills to identify, implement, monitor and evaluate programs and policies to promote optimal nutrition for women, children, and families with a focus on critical developmental periods and social disparities. Proposed Services: The training will focus on key Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) and Title V objectives such as nutrition during pregnancy, education and promotion of breastfeeding, combatting child obesity, and addressing household food insecurity. To do this, training at UC Berkeley focuses on a lifecourse perspective- understanding how nutritional needs at critical periods of growth and development influence health trajectories- and an intergenerational approach- how nutrition influences reproductive health in the grandmother may determine infant outcomes in the grand-daughter. Because contemporary nutrition issues are complex and multilayered, involving individual behaviors and stressors, family dynamics, economic inputs, community and school environments, and food and nutrition policy, we train students in research methods; systems level critical thinking skills; and policy analysis. In addition to courses in diet and disease, maternal and child health and nutrition, and nutritional epidemiology, we also have courses in nutrition policy and design innovation. For example, in the Nutrition Policy Field Experience two-day course in Sacramento, CA, students learn how food and nutrition policy is created and implemented in a real world setting. In this MCH Nutrition training program, students will engage in lactation and breastfeeding education training through online modules at UC Davis Human Lactation Center and funding to become a Lactation Educator. Trainees will complete community-based fieldwork in a maternal and child related area. Clinical experiences and interdisciplinary training will be provided through placements at UC San Francisco. Trainees and MCH leaders will participate in several high-level research and practice conferences, symposium and seminars for training and continuing education. Major events include: 1) The annual meeting of the Nutrition Leadership Network that trains state level dietitians and nutritionists in emerging topics in nutrition and leadership skills. 2) the UC Stress, Sugar, Environment and Weight annual research symposium that takes a biopsychosocial approach to understanding complex pathways through which our biology interacts with the environment to shape eating behaviors, dietary intake and metabolism. 3) The biennial Childhood Obesity Conference; 4) Networking and collaborative opportunities with trainees, faculty, and partners in other MCHB programs. Populations Served: The MCH Nutrition Leadership Training grant aims to provide training in leadership development for Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists matriculated in the 1- or 2- year MPH program and doctoral students seeking a public health nutrition concentration at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Training and continuing education is provided to key MCH Nutrition leaders throughout the western region. Technical support is provided to MCH Nutrition programs at the local and state level.