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 2,256 families in 2004. The number of households enrolled in one or more food assistance programs as a result of EFNEP assistance was over 1,100 households.


In 2004, ninety-two percent of the participants exited the program with a positive overall change in any food group such as consuming more fruits and vegetables and decreasing sugar and fat intake. Seventy-two percent of EFNEP participants showed improvement in planning meals, not running out of food and using grocery lists when shopping. Simple money-management techniques taught in EFNEP empowered families to use food-dollars more wisely and make healthier food decisions. Eighty percent of the participants showed improvement in one or more nutrition practices, such as preparing food without adding salt, and 71 percent showed improvements in food safety practices.

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