Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

Since 1969, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) has successfully addressed critical societal concerns by employing paraprofessional staff and influencing nutrition and physical activity behaviors of low-income families, particularly those with young children. Through a community-based, relationship-driven, hands-on educational approach, EFNEP has directly impacted economic, obesity, and food insecurity challenges that hinder the health and well-being of this nation.

General Information

EFNEP is a Federal Extension (community outreach) program that currently operates through the 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant Universities (LGUs) in every state, the District of Columbia, and the six U.S. territories - American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  

Peer Education Model

Paraprofessionals (peer educators) deliver a series of hands-on, interactive lessons to program participants. Lessons are evidence-based and tailored to meet the needs of the audience. Paraprofessionals typically live in the communities where they work. They recruit families and receive referrals from current and former participants, neighborhood contacts, and community organizations and agencies. EFNEP paraprofessionals are trained and supervised by university and locally-based professional staff.  Volunteers may assist with program delivery. 


EFNEP uses a holistic nutrition educational approach. Participation should result in individuals and families experiencing improvements in four core areas:

  • Diet quality and physical activity
  • Food resource management
  • Food safety
  • Food security

Evaluation and Reporting

EFNEP has a strong history of evaluation and reporting. LGUs collect the same information from adults and from youth participants, allowing data to be collected locally and analyzed nationally. LGUs also submit a yearly budget and a 5-year program plan—and annual updates in intervening years—to outline needs/opportunities, priorities, plans, and any other adjustments they intend to make to their programming. This includes data related to policies, systems, and environmental change (PSEs). EFNEP evaluation and reporting is done through the Web-based Nutrition Education Evaluation and Reporting System (WebNEERS), a robust tool designed by Clemson University and NIFA. 

View WebNEERS tool

Additional Info:


EFNEP reaches over half a million low-income families and low-income youth each year.  Routinely, 80 percent or more EFNEP families report living at or below 100 percent of poverty, and nearly 70 percent indicate being of minority status.  This is important because chronic disease and poor health disproportionately affects minority and low-income audiences. Annual data confirms graduates: improve their diets, improve their nutrition practices, stretch their food dollars farther, handle food more safely, and increase their physical activity levels. 

For additional information on EFNEP's background and characteristics, see the Program Policies document in the Policies and Guidance section below.

Program Type: 
Grant Program



Program Specific Resources

External Resources

Policy and Guidelines

Related Information