EFNEP: Delivering nutrition education to limited-resource families
Educators from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories met in Arlington, Va., March 16–19 to discuss local implementation of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), one of the nation’s largest nutrition education programs.EFNEP offers nutrition education to limited-resource families and children. EFNEP helps program participants gain the knowledge and skills to change their current attitudes and behaviors when it comes to choosing nutritionally sound diets and improve their health and well-being.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) administers EFNEP and provides national program leadership.
“The 2015 EFNEP Conference brought together about 170 representatives from 1862 and 1890 land-grant universities (LGUs) to coordinate, collaborate, and receive training that they can take back and implement in their respective university programs,” said Stephanie Blake, NIFA EFNEP program coordinator.
Conference agenda items included an update on changes to packaged food nutrition labels, youth participant evaluation forms, a new adult behavior checklist, and an Internet tool used for EFNEP evaluation and reporting called the Web-Based Nutrition Education Evaluation and Reporting System. EFNEP coordinators also shared ideas and resources through breakout session presentations and poster exhibits.
EFNEP has assisted more than 32 million low-income families and youth since the program’s inception in 1969. Last year EFNEP reached nearly 122,000 adults and 400,000 children directly and about 360,000 family members indirectly. Among the results listed in EFNEP’s 2014 Impacts Report, 94 percent of adult participants reported improved diets, 86 percent of youth participants reported an increased ability to choose healthy food, and 84 percent of adults reported being better able to manage food resources.
“EFNEP is about reducing health disparities of some this nation’s most vulnerable audiences through hands-on learning experiences and interactive nutrition education,” said Helen Chipman, NIFA national program leader for food and nutrition education. “This annual meeting, combined with other cooperative state and federal efforts, improves EFNEP’s ability to promote nutritional health and well-being among low-income families and children.”
While LGUs manage state EFNEP programs, local educators run them at the county level. “Our educators are so successful because they are members of the communities they support and dedicated to reaching diverse, low-income populations,” Blake said.
Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for more EFNEP information.
Through federal funding and leadership for research, education, and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.