Turning great ideas into healthier communities


California Project LEAN

California Project LEAN (Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition) is a program of the Public Health Institute. It works to advance nutrition and physical activity policy in schools and communities to prevent obesity and associated chronic diseases. Efforts center on youth and parent empowerment approaches, policy and environmental change strategies, and community-based solutions that improve nutrition and physical activity environments primarily in low-resource, high-need communities.


Advancing and Supporting School Wellness

California Project LEAN is providing leadership and training to a Fresno school district's school wellness council to develop and implement goals that support student health and academic success.

Advancing District School Wellness Policy Efforts

California Project LEAN will work with Community Partners and Thriving Schools Partnership Grantees to advance district school wellness policy efforts by providing two trainings and on-going technical assistance by two trainers for English and Spanish facilitation.

Advancing School Wellness

In partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, California Project LEAN will work with Kerman school district stakeholders to support their Wellness goals.

Advancing School Wellness through Policy

This project will build upon California Project LEAN’s experience and expertise in nutrition and physical activity policies and environmental change practices in the school and community environments.

Kern County School Wellness Training

California Project LEAN will be offering training, technical assistance, and expert consultation in both Spanish and English on policy and environmental change strategies and school-based solutions that will improve opportunities for healthful eating and physical activity.

Lawndale Elementary School District Wellness Training

California Project LEAN will work with Community Partners and Thriving Schools Partnership Grantees to advance district school wellness policy efforts with the Lawndale Elementary School District Wellness Council.

Local School Wellness Policy Implementation and Action Planning Training

California Project LEAN will develop and facilitate a Local School Wellness Policy Implementation and Action Planning 3-hour training for California Center for Public Health Advocacy and partners utilizing its Policy in Action toolkit.

Momentum Continues to Advance School Wellness

California Project LEAN will strengthen school wellness policies related to meals, beverages, and physical activity by providing technical assistance to parents and school districts in Kern County.

South Kern County School District Health Promotion

California Project LEAN will promote health in school environments by building the capacity of school administrators and parents in South Kern County school districts to improve school meals and beverages.

Here's How We're Making a Difference

Evaluating the Berkeley Soda Tax

When Berkeley, CA became the first city in the U.S. to pass a significant excise tax on sugary drinks in 2014, PHI was hired to evaluate its impact. Lynn Silver, PHI’s senior advisor on chronic disease and former assistant health commissioner in New York City, worked with PHI’s Survey Research Group and the University of North Carolina to evaluate the tax’s impact on consumption patterns and prices. Their results showed that the $0.01 per ounce soda tax is working as intended: the fee was passed on to the retail price of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in large and small chain supermarkets and gas stations. View the preliminary findings

In 2017, PHI and the University of North Carolina completed a second evaluation of the tax. Published in PLOS Medicine, the largest-to-date evaluation looked at the first 12 months of the tax's implementation, and showed a 9.6% drop in sugar-sweetened beverage purchases. Meanwhile, the sales of untaxed healthier beverages rose significantly, by 3.5%—and sales of water rose by 15.6%. The study found no negative impact on store revenue or consumer grocery bills, and the tax helped the city raise $1,416,973 for nutrition and obesity prevention activities in schools, childcare and other community settings. Read the study

An additional PHI analysis found that a year and a half after passage of the tax, food sector sales tax revenue rose by 15% in the city, and 469 new food sector jobs were created—an increase of 7.2%. Learn more.

Helping Parents Advocate for Healthier School Food Environments

PHI’s Project LEAN trained 22 participants in California—including community-based organization staff, parent leaders, school district employees, health advocates, promotoras and others—on how to best educate parents about the link between sugary drinks and obesity, and to empower parents to advocate for healthy beverages in their child's school.

As a result, parents and advocates in Chula Vista, CA successfully lobbied to change the school district’s policy—removing chocolate milk from cafeterias and providing healthier food and vending options overall. In total, this impacted 29,000 students in 45 school districts, ensuring healthier school food environments throughout the district.

Project LEAN Survey Spurs Legislation to Ban Junk Food in Schools

A survey from PHI's California Project LEAN stunned the public when it disclosed that 95% of high schools that responded were selling fast food from restaurants like McDonald's and Domino's Pizza as a la carte items.

The "2000 California High School Fast Food Survey" and the media campaign that accompanied it drew widespread news coverage and galvanized the movement to improve school nutrition. Most important, it contributed to the passage of legislation that today bans the sale of junk food and soda in California schools.   


Supporting Healthy Options

PHI research, evaluation and media advocacy played a key role in the passage of new taxes on sugary beverages around the country in 2016, which will raise millions to support children and healthier communities. Research by Dr. Lynn Silver, as well as PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group, evaluated existing soda taxes, helped counter misleading messages from the soda industry and framed the conversation around public health.