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Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Finding New Ways to Reach Audience

Nifa Authors
Margaret Lawrence, Writer-Editor

For more than 50 years, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) has reached more than 34 million low-income families and youth develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and changed behaviors necessary for nutritionally sound diets. 

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 youth today. 

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture funds and supports EFNEP efforts in all states, insular areas and the District of Columbia. Using a peer-led education model to support program participants’ efforts toward self-sufficiency and nutritional health and well-being, EFNEP stands as a leader in nutrition education efforts to reduce nutrition insecurity.  

Annual data shows consistently that more than 90% of adults and 80% of youth report improved behaviors following EFNEP involvement. 

Changing demographics of nutrition-insecure families, an increasing number of Americans at or below the poverty line, and burgeoning educational technologies present new challenges and opportunities for nutrition education programs.  

Ongoing EFNEP Initiatives  

  • Receive periodic feedback to ensure program quality, integrity and fidelity and that programs are meeting the changing needs of participants
  • Confirm that adult and youth program indicators are scientifically valid and reliable.  
  • Strengthen science-based learning methods and enhance teaching techniques with appropriate new technologies, social media and social-ecological approaches. 

EFNEP’s university partners are expanding their use of technology in program delivery. Additionally, many university partners are using videos and social media to supplement program content. 

What Partners Are Doing 

  • Almost 140 EFNEP videos with more than 30 in Spanish are available from North Carolina Cooperative Extension. These videos cover recipes, cooking skills and exercise. North Carolina EFNEP also uses Facebook Live to share recipe demonstrations. 
  • Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition (ICAN) is a New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service program and serves as the implementing agency for EFNEP. As part of its EFNEP efforts, ICAN has produced more than 50 recipe videos, including many in Spanish. 
  • Maine Cooperative Extension supplements its EFNEP curriculum with its Spoonful blog which focuses on bite-sized food and nutrition information that is science based.  The blog often features embedded videos. 
  • EFNEP at Michigan State University reaches participants and others through Facebook, using creative graphics to draw attention to nutrition information, while Ohio State University EFNEP reaches a broad audience via Instagram. 
  • EFNEP at the University of Florida offers an online cookbook with many recipes offered in Spanish and Haitian Creole as well as English. 
  • In New Jersey, Rutgers University has developed video content addressing multiple topics beyond recipes including smart shopping, cooking tips and exercise. 

Visit About EFNEP to learn more about EFNEP's reach, focus, impact, and initiatives underway and to find links to state and local programs, EFNEP impacts and reports, and research findings. This site also includes program guidance for EFNEP implementers. 

Farm Bill Priority Areas
Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health
U.S. States and Territories
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Carolina

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