EFNEP Knowledge is Power–Nutrition Education for Healthier Families

Improve the Nation's Nutrition and Health
Research Year: 

Hunger and poor health contributes to debilitating factors such as increased chronic disease, homelessness, family stress and deterioration, and child health related diseases due to inadequate nutrition. The Native American reservations are combating diabetes at an alarming rate and the African American and Hispanic communities are struggling with diabetes and high blood pressure. Americans as a whole are faced with the same nutrition related problems. Proper nutrition plays a major role in combating food related diseases.

Description of Action: 

EFNEP, the Extension Food and Nutrition Education Program strengthens low-income families through education. Families learn about making sound nutritional choices based on dietary guidelines, by improving their overall nutrition and health, and learning skills to manage their money through optimum grocery purchasing and applying safe food practices.

Education regarding the positive effects of healthy food choices gives families the power to decrease the negative effects of poor food choices. Thus EFNEP classes stress positive choices, such as increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and decreasing the negative effects of poor food choices such as high fat, sugar and salt intake.

EFNEP nutrition educators in Maricopa County (including the Phoenix metropolitan area) taught 1,881 families in 2003. The number of households 50 percent below the poverty level was 555.


An overall increase of fruit and vegetable consumption was seen upon exit of the program. On average, each participant ate one or more fruits and one or more vegetables each day than when they began the classes. From 2001-2003, an average of 91 percent of the participants exited the program with a positive overall change any food group, i.e., eating more vegetables. Over the same two-year period, an average of 72 percent of the participants showed improvement in one or more nutrition practices, such as preparing food without adding salt, and 66 percent showed improvements in food safety practices. Sixty-five percent of the EFNEP participants showed improvement in planning meals, not running out of food and using grocery lists.

Funding Agencies: 

Smith-Lever 3 (d): EFNEP; In-kind from agencies

Conact Name: 
Ruth Jackson
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

The University of Arizona

Maricopa County Cooperative Extension

4341 E. Broadway Road

Phoenix, AZ 85040-8807

Tel.: (602) 470-8086, FAX: (602) 470-8092