The Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) assists limited-resource families and youth in acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behavior changes necessary for nutritionally sound diets; and contributes to program participants' personal development and the improvement of their total family's diets and nutritional welfare.
EFNEP was initiated in 1968 to provide nutrition education to limited resource families. The goal of this education is:
- Improved diets and nutritional welfare for the total family;
- Increased knowledge of the essentials of human nutrition;
- Increased ability to select and buy food that satisfies nutritional needs;
- Improved practices in food production, preparation, storage, safety and sanitation; and, increased ability to manage food budgets and related resources such as food stamps.
The EFNEP model provides education through paraprofessionals (Community Assistants) who are, by law, to the maximum extent practical, hired from the indigenous target population. In New Jersey, adult education in the EFNEP program is accomplished through classes that meet all of the following minimum criteria:
- comprised of 4–15 people
- meet at least 6 times
- last over a period of at least one hour per session
- last over a period of at least 6 weeks and for no longer than a year
To receive a graduation certificate from our program, adults must attend at least 6 classes as outlined above. Youth programming (4-H EFNEP), in New Jersey has the same requirements as adult programming, with two exceptions. Classes can contain up to 30 children per Community Assistant in pre-organized youth groups, and may meet for a minimum of 30 minutes, rather than one hour when a full hour is not available. New Jersey EFNEP is located in those areas of the state where the greatest need exists.
The Essex county EFNEP program collaborates with the following types of agencies:
- Work first Programs
- Domestic Violence Shelters
- Homeless Shelters
- Transitional Housing
- Board of Education
- After School Programs
- Youth Clubs
- Soup Kitchens
- Adult Education Programs