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. EFNEP, the Extension Food and Nutrition Education Program strengthens low-income families through education. EFNEP 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.

Description of Action: 

EFNEP paraprofessionals provide education to low-income families through a series of classes presented weekly, biweekly or in some cases daily, in one or two-hour sessions. Handouts, nutrition games, quizzes, dietary guideline curriculum and "Eating Right is Basic-Enhanced" are used to teach the classes. Participants receive a certificate upon completion, and a pre-and post-test, 24-hour food recall and a behavioral survey are administered at the beginning and end of each class lesson series.

EFNEP nutrition educators in Maricopa County (including the Phoenix metropolitan area) taught 2,202 participants six lessons each for a total of 13,212 contacts in 2006. Of these, 1,714 participants were low-income parents between the ages of 21-29. The number of households enrolled in one or more food assistance programs as a result of EFNEP assistance was more 1,400. Simple money-management techniques taught in EFNEP classes empowered families to use food dollars more wisely and make healthier food decisions. EFNEP has more than 120 registered volunteers who provide class set-up, transportation of families to sites, and babysitting.


In 2006, 83% percent of the 2,132 EFNEP participants who completed classes showed improvement in planning meals, comparing prices and using grocery lists. They also showed improvement in one or more nutrition practices, such as preparing food without added salt. Seventy-four percent of EFNEP participants ate two or more servings of fruit daily, ran out of food less often before the end of the month, and stopped thawing food at room temperature-a major preventive measure in reducing foodborne illness. Sixty-two percent were eating three or more servings of vegetables upon exiting the program. EFNEP volunteers contributed 1500 hours of service in 2006.

Funding Agencies: 

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

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

Maricopa County Cooperative Extension

4341 E. Broadway Road

Phoenix, AZ 85040-8807

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