Adapted by Ann Marie Murphy from an Oregon EFNEP impact report and a national EFNEP website
Chronic disease and poor health disproportionately affects minority and low-income audiences. 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 health and well-being of the U.S.
The Sandy Vista Apartments located in Sandy, Ore., are a migrant farmworker community. During the school year, EFNEP Extension educators provide a series of nutrition education classes to adults in this Hispanic community and offer several classes to their children during the summer.
Two brothers, Juan, a ninth grader, and José in sixth grade (not their real names), asked an EFNEP Extension educator for a series of classes for older youth. The boys wanted to learn to cook to help their family improve their eating habits and so they themselves could lose weight. They have three younger siblings, their diabetic father spends all his time working, and their mother, who has high cholesterol, only speaks an indigenous dialect, not Spanish.
In response to their request, Juan, José and friends received a series of eight Kids in the Kitchen classes. When asked what changes their family has made since taking the classes, Juan and José said their mom no longer cooks with lard, the parents are now buying low-fat yogurt and milk, and their father now understands that he needs to change his eating habits by cutting down on soda and tortillas.
Both Juan and José have served as Extension volunteers with a younger youth group since bringing their siblings to the course.
EFNEP is a Federal Extension (community outreach) program that currently operates through the 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant Universities (LGUs) in every state, the District of Columbia, and the six U.S. territories – American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
The program uses a holistic nutrition educational approach. Participation should result in individuals and families experiencing improvements in four core areas:
- Diet quality and physical activity
- Food resource management
- Food safety
- Food security