Launched in 1969, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is the nation’s first nutrition education program for low-income populations and remains at the forefront of nutrition education efforts to reduce nutrition insecurity of low-income families and youths today.
EFNEP educators at Land-grant Universities (LGUs) nationwide educate through hands-on learning to support participants’ efforts toward self-sufficiency, nutritional health and well-being. Program participants consistently report improved diets, improved nutrition practices, stretching their food dollars farther, handling food more safely and increased physical activity.
EFNEP’s impact is felt throughout nation, including these highlights from 2021.
- EFNEP educators at Delaware State University increased use of technology to stay connected to program participants, allowing greater interaction between participants and staff. Engagement through phone, email, Zoom and a new program website provided consistent interactions, while social media outreach through Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok has led to weekly live cooking classes.
- A single mother in Queens, New York, attended EFNEP classes conducted by Cornell University to learn about healthy eating choices. “Now I cook meals with my daughter at home, and we eat fast food only two times a month instead of everyday like we used to,” she said. “We both have lost weight just by changing our eating habits, I am walking more, I play games with my daughter and drink water instead of drinking juice.”
- EFNEP eductors at the University of Florida increased their social media presence, adapted the program to include new technologies, and trained educators on emerging technology and teaching methods. This expanded reach into the thousands, with the average participant reporting $30 in savings for monthly food costs. Savings allowed families to redirect their limited funds to other immediate needs, ultimately providing more financial security.
- Pennsylvania State University taught EFNEP courses to residents of a local homeless shelter. "I now pay attention to the amount of sugar in beverages,” said a participant. “I learned unit pricing and have used it in the grocery store whenever I shop now. I used to thaw on the counter, but now I don't do that. I now use a food thermometer. I've walked a lot more now."
Collectively, 76 LGUs conduct EFNEP in every state, the District of Columbia and the six U.S. territories, reaching roughly 200,000 adults and 450,000 youths each year. Learn more about EFNEP.