The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program is a federally funded nutrition course designed to teach low-income women how to feed their families more nutritiously on a limited budget.
EFNEP has been offered through the University of California Cooperative Extension Service for the past 22 years. Participants receive shopping and nutrition information, plus recipes for such dishes as beef stroganoff, cabbage supreme and baked enchiladas, to help stretch food dollars.
Ten nutrition education assistants teach homemakers in communities from Koreatown to East Los Angeles to Watts how to plan meals around the Four Food Groups and to use the "daily food guide," an easy-to-follow chart of recommended foods, during shopping. EFNEP stresses the importance of eating a variety of foods every day. Dairy products, vegetables, hard-cooked eggs and leftover meats are recommended as healthy snacks. Food safety is highly emphasized.
"The nutrition education assistants take a curriculum and adapt it to the needs of each individual group," says Barbara Turner, home economist with EFNEP. "They consider the family's cultural practices and suggest how they can realistically adapt them to the realms of realistic nutrition."
And there's another advantage, says Turner. Many nutrition education assistants live in or near the neighborhood in which they teach, so they are familiar with the markets and other resources the families have at their disposal. "They don't just teach nutrition principles," she says.