EFNEP helps parents improve food resource management and nutrition practices
The IssueJuxtaposed with agricultural production abundance, a significant proportion of Tulare County low-income residents struggles to put enough nutritious food on the table. In Tulare County, 29% of children are living in food insecure households (i.e., without access to a reliable source of nutritious food) as compared to 22.9% in California. Families with young children are particularly at risk of food insecurity. Because poor dietary health disproportionately affects minority and limited resource populations and children, it is critical to empower low-income parents with knowledge and skills to help them use their food dollars wisely in order to provide healthy food to their families for the entire month. Research indicates that nutrition and food resource management are modifiable behaviors and strategies such as the ability to plan meals, shop on a budget, and stretch groceries until the end of the month, can protect families from food insecurity.
What Has ANR Done?During the FY2016-2017, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) was administered to low-income parents living in Tulare County. EFNEP participants received Eating Smart Being Active (ESBA) curriculum consisting of 8 core lessons spanning 8 weeks. In addition to teaching the curriculum, nutrition educator also distributed nutrition resources to parents and followed up weekly to reinforce key nutrition and food resource management messages. Participants learned strategies such as how to plan meals, compare prices, maintain household food supply, and use grocery lists. They also learned how to make healthy food choices, prepare food without adding salt, read nutrition labels and have children eat breakfast.
Parents improved their nutrition and food resource management practicesA total of 186 parents in Tulare county graduated from EFNEP. Results showed improvements in food resource management and nutrition practices. Overall, 91% (n=169) of participants showed improvement in one or more food resource management practices (i.e. plan meals, compare prices, does not run out of food or uses grocery lists). Similarly, 94% (n=174) of participants showed improvement in one or more nutrition practices (i.e. plans meals, makes healthy food choices, prepares food without adding salt, reads nutrition labels or has children eat breakfast).
Clientele Testimonial“I dedicate more time to exercising, like walking and eat out less. Now we include whole corn and whole wheat tortillas and I buy more fruits and vegetables. I was very surprised how much I paid, it was much less than when compared to when I would buy junk food. I also dedicate more time to cooking meals with less fats and less salt.” EFNEP Participant
“I have been trying to make sure that all my meals now contain more vegetables, and that my children eat them. Now my children are always asking for vegetables because they want to be healthy. I tell them that eating more vegetables and fruits will help them avoid bad diseases and will also help them live longer.” EFNEP Participant