The Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program(EFNEP) is designed to assist limited resource families in acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitudes and changed behavior necessary for nutritionally sound diets, and to contribute to their personal development and improvement of the total family's diet and nutritional well-being. The program currently operates in all 50 states including American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Through an experiential learning process, adult program participants learn how to make food choices to improve the nutritional quality of the meals they serve their families. They increase their ability to select and buy food that meets the nutritional needs of their family. They gain new skills in food production, preparation, storage, safety and sanitation, and they learn to better manage their food budgets and related resources such as Food Stamps. EFNEP is delivered as a series of 10-12 or more lessons, often over several months, by paraprofessionals and volunteers. The hands-on, learn-by-doing approach allows the participants to gain the practical skills necessary to make positive behavior changes. Through EFNEP, participants learn self-worth that they have something to offer their families and society.
The delivery of EFNEP youth programs takes on various forms. EFNEP provides nutrition education at schools as an enrichment of the curriculum, in after-school care programs and through 4-H EFNEP clubs, day camps, residential camps, community centers, neighborhood groups, and home gardening workshops. In addition to lessons on nutrition, food preparation, and food safety, youth topics may also include fitness, avoidance of substance abuse, and other health-related topics.
Extension nutrition specialists provide on-the-job training and supervise paraprofessionals and volunteers who teach EFNEP. Paraprofessionals usually live in the communities where they work. They recruit families and receive referrals from neighborhood contacts and community agencies (such as Food Stamps and WIC). Methods for program delivery may include direct teaching in group or one-to-one situations; mailings and telephone teaching to complement other teaching methods; mass media efforts to develop understanding, awareness, and involvement in the educational program; and development and training of volunteers to assist with direct teaching of adults and youth.