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EFNEP Brought Enrichment Activities to Summer Meals Program

The Issue

The first Out-of-School Time Nutrition Summit for Southern California hosted by California Summer Meal Coalition of the Institute for Local Government was held in Upland, CA in January 2017. This meeting highlighted the needs to support and increase summer meals participation in the Inland Empire. The Summer Meals Program is funded by USDA to ensure that youth from families that are food insecure continue to receive nutritious meals when school is out. The number of students eligible for Free/Reduced Price Meal in Riverside County is 270,907 (63% of student enrollment). During summer, Riverside County has over 200 summer meal sites providing healthy lunches, however, the summer lunch daily participation average is only 17,113 or about 6% of eligible students.

What Has ANR Done?

One of the key strategies to promote participation is enrichment activities in conjunction with summer lunches. To this end, EFNEP started a new relationship with Riverside Public Library by offering nutrition classes to parents and youth during their summer meals program. The families that came for the summer meals at the Main Library were recruited to sign up for EFNEP classes. A six-class series was conducted simultaneously for parents and children. The children’s group met in the youth reading area with the EFNEP Youth Educator and the parents’ group met in the adjacent area with the EFNEP Adult Educator. Children ages 5-10 participated in the storybook reading and activities from the ‘Good for Me and You’ curriculum, while parents learned lessons from ‘Eating Smart-Being Active’. After one-hour of lesson activities, the children joined their parents for food-tasting. The classes were offered three times a week for two weeks. Three sessions of the six-class series were implemented during the library summer meals schedule from June to August. Moreover, with assistance from the Library’s Volunteer Coordinator, EFNEP trained five volunteers to assist with program activities.

The Payoff

EFNEP Reached Families in Need during Summer Meals Program

Sixteen families (16 adults and 21 youth) enrolled in EFNEP during this pilot project. The majority of the families (94%) are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and 63% live below 100% of Federal Poverty Level. Some families had not planned to come for the summer meals every day, but they came because of EFNEP. Two parents shared that they only signed up for EFNEP because they wanted their children to participate in group activities and learn about healthy eating. All participants graduated and the pre/post Food Checklist survey shows behavior changes: 56% now read Nutrition Facts labels; 69% shop with a list, 44% compare prices, 44% make food without adding salt, 62% stop thawing food at room temperature and 44% stop letting meat and dairy sit out for more than two hours. Over 85% of children also show improvement in one or more core areas (diet quality, food safety, and physical activity).

Clientele Testimonial

"As a single dad, I'm the one to cook and feed my children. This class empowers me to be more cautious about nutrition and to watch what my children eat. Now I can read labels, calculate sugar and care for adding good nutritious foods." Jason M.


Supporting Unit: Riverside County

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
Chutima Ganthavorn, NFCS Advisor, cganthavorn@ucanr.edu
Myriam Acevedo, Adult EFNEP Educator, macevedo@ucanr.edu
Brenda Rangel, Youth EFNEP Educator, brangel@ucanr.edu