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EFNEP impacts; Kindergarten children eating lunch smiling at camera

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

Obesity, poor nutrition, and limited physical activity are significant health concerns. Poor health disproportionately affects limited-resource populations. EFNEP improves the health of these families and children. Additionally, EFNEP leads to public savings. Research shows that better health is associated with reduced health care costs, less absenteeism from work, and less dependence on emergency food assistance. EFNEP is an integral part of Alabama Extension programming.

Reducing Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is one of the greatest and most pressing child health issues in Alabama. Children of limited-resource families are at particular risk. To combat childhood obesity, 3,554 Alabama children, grades 5-8, completed Teen Cuisine in 2020. Through 899 educational hours, 91% improved their ability to choose foods according to Federal Dietary Recommendations. Nutrition education for young people plays an important role in the prevention of childhood obesity.

Lowering Infant Mortality

In 2018, Alabama ranked fifth in the nation in infant mortality. Auburn University EFNEP is committed to reducing the infant mortality rate. One way to guard against the death of a baby before his first birthday is to collaborate with community partners such as the health department, doctor’s offices, and other health care providers to help impoverished moms-to-be maintain healthy diets and weight during pregnancy. At program exit, 98% of Today’s Mom graduates (n=297) showed a positive change in at least one food group. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight increases the likelihood of successful birth outcomes.

Making Healthy Food Choices

Peer educators in 30 Alabama counties taught heads of household how to choose foods with the most nutrition at the lowest cost and how to better utilize food resources (i.e., WIC, SNAP benefits, dollars, gardens) to not run out of money for food before the end of the month. Menu planning, food budgeting, MyPlate, and grocery store lists helped 57% of 582 EFNEP graduates plan meals more often before shopping.

Increasing Physical Activity

Alabama is one of the most inactive states in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Data show that 30% or more of adults are physically inactive in Alabama. Increasing physical activity helps individuals maintain healthy weight and combat obesity and chronic diseases. In 2020, 879 adult EFNEP graduates engaged in physical activity. Nearly 36 percent showed a positive change in physical activity upon exiting the program. From forming their own walking groups to stretching and pushing a baby in a stroller, limited-resource families found ways to move more.

 

Contact your local Extension office for more information. Follow Alabama EFNEP on Facebook. Text EFNEP to 555888 to receive nutrition tips. Message and data rates may apply. 

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