Since 1969, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) has successfully addressed critical societal concerns by employing paraprofessional staff and influencing nutrition and physical activity behaviors of low-income families, particularly those with young children.
Through a community-based, relationship-driven, hands-on educational approach, EFNEP has directly impacted economic, obesity, and food insecurity challenges that hinder the nutritional health and well-being of this nation.
Collectively, 76 Land-grant Universities conduct EFNEP and reach roughly 200,000 low-income adults and 450,000 low-income youth in rural and urban communities each year through Cooperative Extension. EFNEP is available in all states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
Consistently, annual data shows that more than 90 percent of adults and 80 percent of youth report improved behaviors following EFNEP involvement. Individual and family improvements are seen for four core areas:
- Diet quality and physical activity
- Food resource management
- Food safety
- Food security
EFNEP’s success is largely due to its dedicated staff of professionals, peer educators, and volunteers; support of champions and partners; and the commitment of youth and adult participants who change their lives and are now contributing in other ways to their families and communities. The EFNEP partnership between NIFA and Land-grant Universities/Cooperative Extension produces measurable evidence annually and shows how limited-resource families experience success. Further, EFNEP exemplifies how NIFA’s commitment to science with a purpose can achieve tangible positive outcomes for families, communities, and society.
Evaluation and Reporting
Throughout its history, EFNEP has used data along with participant and stakeholder feedback to guide local, state, and national program decisions. Land-grant Universities collect the same information from adults and from youth, which allows the data to be gathered locally and reported at a state and national level. Data is also collected on community impacts through policies, systems, and environmental change (PSE) efforts. Five-year plans, annual updates, and budgets are used, as well, to outline needs and opportunities and make adjustments to priorities, plans, and actions taken to improve programming. EFNEP evaluation and reporting is done through the Web-based Nutrition Education, Evaluation and Reporting System (WebNEERS), a robust tool designed by Clemson University's Youth Learning Institute and NIFA.
WebNEERS supports planning, evaluation, and reporting for the 76 EFNEP institutions, and NIFA. The three levels of evaluation reported in WebNEERS are Adult Evaluation, Youth Evaluation, and Community Impacts/Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) Change (as shown in the figure above). The goal across these three levels is to ensure EFNEP is collecting the best data possible to demonstrate program impacts among adults, youth, and the community.
Since FY 2017, nine initiatives involving EFNEP were successfully launched or completed. Seven initiatives are currently planned or underway.
|Launched or completed between 2017 and 2018||Planned or in progress|
|Initial paraprofessional supervision resources||Development of second set of paraprofessional supervision resources|
|Two call to conversation — stakeholder listening — sessions||Development of community partnership impact examples, training, and policy (Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change)|
|Regional Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Centers of Excellence (RNECE) projects completed||Dissemination and adoption of RNECE projects, as appropriate|
|ezFedGrants process — agency grant processing synthesis||Refreshed federal program websites|
|New evidence-based adult indicators for behavioral change||Recognition of EFNEP 50th anniversary in 2019|
|New youth indicators for behavioral change — grades 3-5||Development and testing of new youth indicators for behavioral change — grades 6-12|
|New contemporary technology policy||Adoption of new technology policy monitored to guide further policy development|
|Updated volunteer policy|
|Simplified, online budget submission process|