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EFNEP Helps California’s Low-income Families Make Healthy Choices while Saving Money

The Issue

Twenty-five percent of California adults are obese while over 30% of California children, ages 10-17, are considered overweight or obese. One in eight Californians experience difficulties providing healthy nutritious foods for their family.

What Has ANR Done?

In 2017, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) provided over 65,000 hours of adult and youth nutrition education classes delivered in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong, or English throughout California. Topics of these classes included: ways to be physical active; increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables; how to identify whole grains; the importance of calcium-rich foods; choosing lean sources of protein; food safety; making changes to lower consumption of foods high in fat, sugar, and salt; and how to save money when shopping for food.

The Payoff

$2,916,340 saved in food costs last year

Youth EFNEP participants improved several nutrition and physical activity behaviors. Eighty percent improved their knowledge or abilities to choose foods according to Federal Dietary Recommendations. Forty-four percent improved their physical activity practices or knowledge. Fifty percent improved their food safety practices or knowledge.

Adult EFNEP participants showed improved behaviors at the end of nutrition education classes. Ninety-six percent demonstrated positive changes in food choices including consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains, lean protein foods, or dairy. Ninety-one percent showed improvement in one or more nutrition practices including planning meals, making healthy food choices, preparing food without adding salt, reading nutrition labels or providing breakfast to children within 2 hours of waking up. Eighty-seven percent had improvement in one or more food resource management practices including planning meals, comparing food prices, not running out of food at the end of the month, or using grocery lists when shopping. EFNEP Adult graduates reported an average monthly food cost savings of $38.20, which collectively saved California EFNEP families $2,916,340.

Clientele Testimonial

”I took the shopping list and ... then proceeded to go through the store comparing prices until I was able to create an ideal shopping list. I have saved a bundle of money and plan on sharing the list with friends and family.” - Alameda County EFNEP Graduate


Katie Panarella, Statewide Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Director & Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Coordinator, khpanarella@ucanr.edu
Larissa Leavens, Analyst, llleavens@ucanr.edu
Sources: https://stateofobesity.org/states/ca http://www.cafoodbanks.org/hunger-factsheet