Home & Family
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Food is expensive and balancing a budget with hungry kids in the home isn’t easy. However, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) at Auburn University is there to help.
EFNEP’s objective is to help low-income families acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and change behavior necessary to secure healthy diets. EFNEP focuses on food budgets for families, prenatal nutrition and childhood obesity to meet these objectives.
Through AU EFNEP educators, low-income families with children learn several skills to help manage food budgets including making healthy food choices, reading nutrition labels, meal planning and taking advantage of coupons and sales.
According to Sondra Parmer, Alabama Extension program leader for nutrition programs, food prices across the country have been steadily rising, causing a disproportionate burden on low-income families. Families with the lowest incomes spend an average of 36 percent of their income on food. In comparison, families with the highest incomes spend an average of eight percent of their income on food
“The ability to maintain a food budget that provides adequate, healthy foods for the entire family while decreasing the proportion of income spent is vital to improving the health of low-income families,” Parmer said. “Giving these families the skills and knowledge needed to decrease their food spending while increasing the number of healthy foods they purchase is a top priority for EFNEP at Auburn University.”
Today’s Mom helps mothers make healthy food and physical activity choices for themselves and their little ones. Lessons focus on healthy food choices for the mother and baby, including breastfeeding, food safety, appropriate physical activity, menu planning and more.
As a result of the program, mothers reported more confidence in maintaining a healthy pregnancy and delivery a healthy baby. This past year, 86 mothers reported that 90 percent of their babies were born at full term, 86 percent of the babies weighed more than 6 pounds or above and 73 percent of mothers planned of considered breastfeeding.
As those babies grow into teenagers, their appetite grows with it. While those teenagers are seemingly hungry all the time, it critical they understand the importance of nutrition.
The Teen Cuisine and Teen Cuisine Encore curricula embarks on a six-lesson series where students learn to become self-sufficient in the kitchen while learning lifelong skills and habits related to nutrition, food safety, food preparation and physical activity.
“These engaging curricula utilize interactive slide decks, gamification and plenty of hands-on activity,” Parmer said. “Through these lessons, students learn to prepare simple, healthy foods for not only themselves but their entire families.”
Results from the program have shown increased ability to choose healthier food, safely handle food and engage in physical activity. The program has equipped participants with the ability to make simple and nutritious meals.
This past year, 1,381 students graduated from Teen Cuisine and Teen Cuisine Encore in 154 different classrooms across Alabama.
For more information about AU EFNEP, visit www.aces.edu or Facebook at AU EFNEP.