EFNEP, a successful nationwide community nutrition education program, is celebrating its 50th year in Hawai‘i! The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) helps limited-resource families acquire knowledge and skills and change attitudes and behavior to improve the nutritional well-being of the whole family. Begun as a pilot project in a handful of states between 1962 and 1967, today EFNEP is active in all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Micronesia, and American Samoa.
The program focuses on limited-resource families, with an emphasis on parents and other adult caregivers who have primary responsibilities for feeding young children. It also offers specialized programs for moms-to-be and new parents and includes a youth component for children and teens ages 5–19.
Learning occurs through a series of free, hands-on nutrition education lessons. Taught by a peer educator, these lessons aim to increase the number of healthy children, youth, and families. EFNEP follows a holistic approach which includes four core areas: diet quality and physical activity, food resource management, food safety, and food security, in a setting convenient to participants. At the end of the series, participants receive a certificate of completion from UHM, a food skills cookbook, and other aids to healthy living. During 2017–2018, EFNEP peer educators in Hawai‘i provided nutrition education to 867 participants (adult and youth) and 784 family members.
EFNEP graduates show significant improvement in terms of the total family diet, nutritional well-being, and physical activity behavior. Among adult participants, more than 74% percent showed improvement in food resource-management practices, such as planning meals, comparing food prices, and sticking to a food budget; and more than 93% improved in nutrition practices, such as making healthy food choices, reading nutrition labels, and eating breakfast. Approximately 88% of children and youth improved their abilities to choose foods according to Federal Dietary Recommendations.
Here’s to another 50 years of helping Hawai‘i’s families eat right and live healthily!