Nutrition and Physical Activity

Program Contacts

Program Information and Community Events:

Mary Urtecho-Garcia, Program Coordinator

(626) 744-6163

Nutrition Classes:

Elizabeth Estevez, Community Health Educator and Event Liaison

(626) 744-6136

Pasadena Healthy Retail Program:

Esmeralda Garcia, Healthy Retail Program Liaison and Community Health Educator

(626) 744-6134

Nutrition and Physical Activity Program

Program Goal

The Nutrition and Physical Activity Program aims to reduce the prevalence of obesity and other chronic diseases by providing nutrition education and obesity prevention services in Pasadena.

Our goal is to make the healthy choice an easy choice for all who live, work, shop, and play in Pasadena.

Program Objectives 

  • Increase consumption and access to healthy foods and beverages;
  • Decrease consumption of added sugar from food and beverages;
  • Increase physical activity levels;
  • Improve food resource management skills such as meal planning and shopping on a budget; and
  • Create community environments that support healthy eating and active living

Who We Are

Who We Are image

Meet the Nutrition and Physical Activity Program team!

Learn more

Champions for Change

Champions for Change logo

Become a role model and leader for your community.

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Be Better Pasadena

Be Better Pasadena image

Join the statewide nutrition campaign with a simple message: “You don’t have to be perfect, just be better!”

Learn more

Healthy Retail

Healthy Retail

Transform your neighborhood by helping to bring healthier food to small markets near you.

Learn more

Food and Beverage

Little By Little image

Program giving parents guidance on the importance of reading to a child.

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Nutrition Classes image

Sign up for free nutrition classes to gain new tools to live a healthier life.

Learn more

Champions for Change

Champions for Change

Are you a healthy role model for your family and friends? Do you want to be? Are there changes you would like to make in your community, like improve the lunch menu at your child’s school or get your corner store to carry more fruits and vegetables?The Champions for Change Program has the resources, training and support you need to be successful!

Check out what some of our Champions for Change are up to!

Who is A Champion for Change

Who is a Champion for Change

Champions for Change are individuals who have decided to make health a priority in their households and communities. As mothers and fathers, grandparents, teachers, pastors, coaches, employers, and youth, Champions for Change are joining the movement in making healthy changes in eating habits and physical activity, one step at a time.

Champions for Change inspire, inform and empower others to follow their lead in making small changes that add up to big health improvements, because “you don’t have to be perfect, just be better.”

  • Role Models
    • Strive to eat healthy and be physically active every day
    • Serve healthy meals to their families
    • Show through their actions how it is possible for others to be healthy and active
  • Advocates
    • Be a local voice for change
    • Recognize obstacles in their community that stand in the way of good health
    • Work with community and business leaders and policy makers to create change
  • Brand Ambassadors
    • Share their stories with family, friends, neighbors and members of their community
    • Receive spokesperson training
    • Participate in local activities
    • Promote Champions for Change messages through traditional and social media
  • Educators
    • Lead food and/or physical activity demonstrations
    • Share tips, recipes and ideas
Champions for Change Profiles

Champions for Change Profiles

Stories of other Champions, the healthy changes they made and what inspired them to start making changes.

Meet Aracely R.View Profile

“A healthy life starts with changes made by you and me, and determines the well-being of our future, and our family’s future.”

Champion Mom Rosalia’s Story 

Champion Parents Lakeysha’s and Oluwaleke’s Story 

Champion Dad Froy’s Story (Spanish) 

Success Stories

Champions for Change Success Stories

Step-by-step guides from other Champions who have made big changes in their communities.

Bike Lanes Pave the Way to Safe Physical Activity

How to Work with Local Restaurants to Provide Healthy Menus for Kids

Become a Champion for Change

Become a Champion for Change

Join our group of Champions for Change who are making healthy changes for their families and community in Pasadena!

If you are interested in learning more about this group, please contact Elizabeth Estevez at or call (626)744-6136. Se habla español.

Be Better Pasadena

Be Better Pasadena

Be Better Pasadena LogoThe Be Better Campaign, adapted from the California Department of Public Health, is part of an ongoing effort to improve the health of families and communities in California, especially those that are at greater risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Research has indicated that having a normal weight reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 70 percent[i]. Be Better Pasadena was created to inspire and motivate individuals and families to adopt small changes for a healthier tomorrow through a simple message:“You don’t have to be perfect, just be better.”

The Be Better Campaign television and radio ads spotlight real Champions for Change across California, who despite the stresses of everyday life, have committed to be better for themselves and their families by getting more physical activity, drinking water instead of sugary drinks, and eating more fruits and vegetables.

Watch these videos to learn more about the Be Better campaign!

Get Started Today! Learn ways to eat better, play better, and refresh better every day by taking advantage of the free resources provided by the Nutrition and Physical Activity Program.

Share how you are eating, playing, and drinking better every day by using the hashtag #BeBetterPasadena.

[1] Reis, J.P., Loria, C.M., Sorlie, P.D., Park, Y., Hollenbeck, A., & Schatzkin, A. (2011). Lifestyle factors and risk for new-onset diabetes in a large population-based prospective cohort study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 155(5), 292-299.


Healthy Retail

Healthy Retail Program

Access to healthy food is a challenge for those that live, work, play and learn in Northwest Pasadena. Northwest Pasadena is characterized as a “food desert,” which is a name is given to neighborhoods with a scarcity of grocery stores and an abundance of fast food outlets and convenience stores. People that live in food deserts are at a higher risk of becoming overweight and developing chronic disease due to limited access to healthy options and poorer food choices. Improvements in the neighborhood food environment can encourage people to make better choices about what they eat and drink.The Healthy Retail Program promotes healthier, safer, and more vibrant neighborhoods in Northwest Pasadena by helping small store owners respond to a need in the community for greater access to fresh and healthy food. The Healthy Retail Program provides assistance to qualifying small stores in Northwest Pasadena. Assistance may include staff training, interior and exterior improvements, equipment, marketing materials, and community nutrition education.

Community Surveys

Community Surveys


In 2013 the Nutrition and Physical Activity (NPA) Program used the Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention (CX3 survey tool to measure the food environment in Northwest Pasadena. The NPA Program collected and analyzed local data from three neighborhoods. Data was taken from Geographic Information Systems (GIS), census tracts, and field surveys of neighborhood stores.

Survey results showed that small stores have:

  • Limited access to healthy, affordable foods
  • An abundance of packaged, unhealthy foods
  • Poor quality produce
  • Uninviting interior and exterior

A total of 16 stores were surveyed and only 4 met the quality standards (achieved 75 out of 100 points or higher). Download factsheets of the three neighborhoods assessed:

CX3 Fact Sheet Jackie Robinson Community Center
CX3 Fact Sheet Villa Parke Community
CX3 Fact Sheet Washington Schools

The NPA Program will re-assess the three neighborhoods in Spring 2017, using the Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention (CX3 survey tool, to identify if any changes have occurred.

Healthy Retail Program Projects

Pasadena Healthy Retail Program Projects


2029 N. Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena CA 91103

Rio Meat Market Storefront

Program Accomplishments

  • Partnered with local non-profits for a large community volunteer work day.
  • Re-arranged equipment around store to highlight healthier options and improve flow
  • Re-arranged products on shelves to highlight healthier options.
  • Improved market’s produce section.
  • Installed signage with healthy messaging.
  • Los Angeles Public Health Department retail analyst provided expertise and guidance.
  • City of Pasadena’s Economic Development Department provided technical assistance with a business and marketing plan.
  • Organized a grand opening in March of 2015 with keynote speakers such as former Mayor Bill Bogaard, former Vice Mayor Jacque Robinson, and Pasadena Public Health Officer. City Councilmembers and the Northwest Commission were also among the many dignitaries present.

Since the Re-Grand Opening, Rio Meat Market & Restaurant’s customer base has increased and has sustained many of the changes.



494 N Wilson Ave
Pasadena, CA 91106

Program Accomplishments

  • Worked with Environmental Health Division to permit the sale of locally grown produce
  • NOTE: Arroyo Food Coop is currently closed after their lease at 494 N. Wilson Avenue ended. There are plans to relocate to another location.


1237 Lincoln Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91103


Chans Market Storefront

We are currently in the beginning stages of a healthy retail conversion at Chan’s Market.

Program Accomplishments

  • Collected community surveys
  • Meeting with key partners and store owner to identify improvement strategies
  • Recruiting community volunteers
Apply for a Mini-Grant

Apply for a Mini-Grant (Businesses)

The City of Pasadena Public Health Department is excited to expand the Pasadena Healthy Retail Program by partnering with at least four small stores to foster a safer and healthier community. Beginning in 2017, the Healthy Retail Program will partner with at least four small stores in qualifying neighborhoods to provide up to $14,500 toward retail improvements when the stores commit to creating healthier retail environments inside and outside the store.

Funding provided through the Healthy Retail Program will increase access to healthier food and beverage options, bolster and strengthen local economic development and improve the quality of life for all residents and businesses in Pasadena. Don’t miss out on this opportunity! 

For more information about this Program, please view the Healthy Retail Program Guidelines (hyperlink guidelines) or contact Esmeralda Garcia at (626) 744-6136 or


In March 2017, two small qualifying Northwest Pasadena neighborhood markets were each awarded with a mini-grant of $14,500. These stores include Rio Meat Market & Restaurant and Chan’s Market.  Stores will use funding to purchase items such as refrigeration, shelving, produce stands, etc. to help increase access to fresh produce in their community. Stay posted for updates!

Get Involved

Get Involved


Group posed in front of Rio Meat Market

How can you get involved?

  • Support and shop at our Healthy Retail Program partner locations.
  • Advocate for healthy changes at small stores or markets in your neighborhood.
  • Become a Healthy Retail Program volunteer! Our past retail conversions wouldn’t have been possible without the help of dedicated volunteers.

Volunteers may assist with:

  • Conducting community surveys to understand what improvements are needed at participating stores
  • Participating in volunteer work days at stores
  • Promoting special events at stores such as food demos or grand openings
  • Serving as a docent or assistant during special events
  • Conducting store report cards following conversion

Volunteers working together to help create a healthier retail space in their community.

Volunteers at in store aisle Volunteers organizing shelf Healthy Foods chalkboard sign

Food and Beverage Standards

Healthy Food and Beverage Standards

On October 3rd, 2011, the City of Pasadena adopted one of the strongest Healthy Food Vending and Procurement policies in Southern California. The City of Pasadena Healthy Food and Beverage Vending and Procurement Policy includes the following provisions:

  • Require 100% of snacks sold in vending machines on City property to meet specified nutrition standards.
  • Require 100% of beverages sold in vending machines on City property to meet specified nutrition standards.
  • Require 100% of beverages and snacks served at all meetings/programs/events led, or coordinated, by City staff or programs, using City funds, shall meet specified nutrition standards.

The goal of the standards is to improve the health of all City of Pasadena employees and residents that utilize City services and/or participate in City programs and events. The standards were developed based on the feedback, review, and agreement of local collaborative groups, community residents and City staff members.

Procurement Manual for Programs Meetings Events 2012

Healthy Meetings Manual 2012

Pasadena Healthy Food and Beverage Vending and Procurement Policy



The Nutrition and Physical Activity Program provides FREE nutrition classes year-round at community centers, parks, and local organizations.  Our trained, bilingual health educators create tailored lesson plans in English and Spanish. Our classes empower individuals to adopt healthier lifestyle habits including increased consumption of healthy foods and decreased consumption of unhealthy foods such as those with added sugars. Classes also promote the importance of regular physical activity. We believe that change happens one step at a time because “you don’t have to be perfect, just be better.”Check out the program calendar for a schedule of upcoming classes, workshops and community events!


Organizations interested in having one of our trained nutrition educators teach a class or workshop at their location may contact Elizabeth Estevez at

Please note that there are eligibility requirements to be a host organization: 1) Must be located in Pasadena, 2) Serves low-income populations, 3) Guarantee a minimum of 10 participants per class/workshop.

Nutrition Classes

Nutrition Classes

nutrition label imageClass topics and activities may include:

  • Eat Better! – Learn about the MyPlate food groups.
  • Refresh Better! – Learn to calculate sugar in popular beverages.
  • Play Better! – Learn to lead an active lifestyle.
  • Get the Facts – Learn to reading a nutrition facts label.
  • Grocery store tours – Learn to shop healthy on a budget.
  • Nutritious food demonstrations.
  • And Much More!
Physical Activity Promotion

Physical Activity Promotion

image of woman working out with dumbbellsIn combination with healthy eating, physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health! However, most people do not do enough physical activity. The Nutrition and Physical Activity Program incorporates physical activity promotion into most of its classes.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans describes the major research findings on the health benefits of physical activity:

  • Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes.
  • Some physical activity is better than none.
  • For most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration.
  • Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity.
  • Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial.
  • Health benefits occur for children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older adults, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group.
  • The health benefits of physical activity occur for people with disabilities.
  • The benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of adverse outcomes.

The Guidelines provide specific recommendations for children and adolescents, adults, seniors, pregnant woman and adults with disabilities.

There are many ways to stay active! Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly. Find someone to workout with and keep it interesting by trying something different on alternate days. Every little bit adds up and doing something is better than doing nothing. Remember, “you don’t have to be perfect, just be better.”