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EFNEP Celebrates 40 Years of Food and Nutrition Education

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2009 – USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), a program that annually helps more than 500,000 limited-resource family members make sound nutrition and health choices.  The 40th anniversary celebration was held at the University of California Washington Center in Washington, DC.

“CSREES is committed to helping those with limited resources make healthy choices regarding their diets,” said Colien Hefferan, CSREES administrator.  “This is even more important during today’s economic climate.  The EFNEP program is a shining example of changing lives through education.”

EFNEP addresses national priorities, such as hunger, health and obesity.  Through an experiential learning process, participants learn to make food choices that can improve the nutritional quality of the meals they serve their families. They increase their ability to select and buy nutritional food; gain new skills in food production, preparation, storage, safety and sanitation; and learn to better manage their food budgets and related resources from federal, state and local food assistance agencies and organizations. They also learn about related topics such as physical activity and health.

In 2006, 91.5 percent of adults who graduated from the EFNEP program reported improved dietary intake, including an increase of about 1.4 servings per day of fruits and vegetables.  Additionally, 71 percent of youth graduates of the program reported including a variety of foods from all groups in their diets.

The hands-on, learn-by-doing approach allows the participants to gain the practical skills necessary to make positive behavior changes. Through EFNEP, participants also experience increased self-worth, recognizing they can improve the health of themselves and their family.

County extension family and consumer science professionals provide training and supervise peer educators and volunteers who teach EFNEP in their local communities. Methods for program delivery include direct teaching in group or individual 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.

CSREES distributes Congressionally-appropriated funds annually to support EFNEP at the state level through land-grant university cooperative extension programs.  Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.