EFNEP - Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program

Why Was EFNEP Created?

Sliced TomatoDuring the 1960s, there was recognition of the link between poverty and malnutrition and the fact many Americans were not only poor but were suffering from hunger and malnutrition. USDA was aware that available educational programs and resources were not reaching segments of the population, including low-income groups. Pilot studies in several states helped identify effective approaches for contacting, teaching and maintaining education programs with people who lived in poverty. Recommendations based on results of these pilot studies were the basis for initiating EFNEP in 1969.

Three basic concepts arose from the pilots and served as guidelines for implementing EFNEP:

  • An existing home economics program could be modified to effectively reach low-income audiences.
  • Professional home economists can teach and supervise paraprofessionals who, in turn teach low-income homemakers.
  • A nutrition education program tailored to the needs, interests, competencies, and economical and educational levels of low-income families, and delivered by paraprofessionals who are indigenous to the target audience, can change participants' eating habits.

Continuing to Meet Needs

With issues of childhood and adult obesity, chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and the challenging economic times, EFNEP is needed now more than ever. Seventy-two percent of South Carolina's EFNEP families have incomes below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines, and 58 percent have incomes below 50 percent poverty. Many of these families need to know how to choose and prepare healthy foods on a limited budget.