What is EFNEP?
History of EFNEP
History of NC EFNEP

Federal Guidelines
Program Philosophy
State Staff



Pregnant Teens

Program Locations





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EFNEP Staff Site



EFNEP's mission is to improve the health of limited resource youth and families with young children through practical lessons on: basic nutrition and healthy lifestyles, resource management and food safety.


What is EFNEP?

The program focuses on helping families and youth improve behaviors in the following areas: Dietary Intake as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines and MyPlate, Food Resource Management skills and practices, Nutrition Practices and Food Safety practices. Participants increase their ability to select and buy food that meets the nutritional needs of their families and gain new skills in food preparation, food storage, and food safety. They learn to better manage their food budgets – including the use of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) and Food Instruments and Cash Value Vouchers.


History of EFNEP

During the 1960’s there was recognition of the link between poverty and malnutrition and the fact many Americans were not only poor but were suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Cooperative Extension was aware that available educational programs and resources were not reaching segments of the population, including low-income groups. Studies showed that isolation, lack of transportation, poor self-concept and rejection by others were barriers to learning. Pilot studies in several states helped identify effective approaches for contacting, teaching and maintaining education programs with people who lived in poverty. Recommendations based on results of these pilot studies were the basis for initiating the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in 1969.

The unique feature of EFNEP was the method of program delivery, that is, employment of paraprofessionals, Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s) (PA's), who were indigenous to the areas in which they would work. Extension professionals would hire, train and supervise the PA's as they worked individually or in small groups of limited resource families.

Beginning in July 1969, EFNEP was funded by earmarked Smith-Lever 3(d) funds. Initially, the emphasis was on working with adults. The aim of EFNEP was to help low-income families with young children acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and changed behavior necessary to improve their diets through education and use of available resources.

One year later, Congress stipulated that 15-20% of EFNEP funds would be used to support a youth component (4-H EFNEP) with emphasis on urban youth. The objectives include contributing to the personal development of youth through nutrition and contributing to improvement of diets and nutritional status of the total family through educational programs for youth.


History of North Carolina EFNEP

Federal monies were allocated to states by an administrative formula without requiring matching funds from state or local resources. Initially, North Carolina administrators and faculty elected to initiate the program with staff from counties that indicated a need and an interest in piloting EFNEP. Extension administrators instituted the policy that counties funded for EFNEP would provide office space and support for PA's and teaching supplies for their programs with county residents (such as copying costs for handouts and food for demonstrations). Since 1969, all but two counties in North Carolina have participated in EFNEP.

Through the more than 35 years since EFNEP began, numerous adjustments and changes have been made to strengthen the program and to better serve its audience. After the completion of the Congressionally mandated study of EFNEP in January, l982, suggestions for program improvement were made. Some of the recommendations were included in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Policies statement provided to EFNEP Coordinators by the federal office in October 1983. As a result of this EFNEP study and in response to Congressional recommendations, state and local EFNEP staffs are urged to increase program cost effectiveness. The national EFNEP office has urged states to try innovative methods of reaching and teaching adults and youth in EFNEP.

Throughout the years, funding for EFNEP has remained flat, leaving little room for program growth to serve a greater percentage of limited resource families in North Carolina. As salaries and fringe benefits have risen, the number of EFNEP paraprofessional positions has decreased. As a result of a state program review, which began in 1994, an EFNEP Task Force for NC developed a plan for counties to provide matching funds for positions as positions became vacant with an implementation date of July 1, 1998. In historical documentation of the Task Force Recommendations, the Proposal to Increase Local Match for EFNEP Funding Plan stated "Should there be insufficient local support to continue EFNEP in a county with high priority need for the program, a task force will review the proposal and make recommendations as appropriate."

In 1997, a plan for the state to transition to an area supervision and management model was developed and implemented based on the demonstrated cost efficiency and program effectiveness in three areas of the state using an area supervision model.

In 2004, an EFNEP Assessment Team made recommendations to restructure the Supervision and Management model for the program. While the training and program management aspects of the position would be maintained, supervision of the Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s) would belong to the County Extension Director. Additionally, the Assessment Team recommended greater collaboration between the Departments of Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H and increased integration of EFNEP into the total CES programming. The Assessment Team also suggested flexibility in meeting county needs both in funding for positions and in type of position available.

In federal fiscal year 2006, NC A & T State University received, for the first time, funding to initiate EFNEP programming. Additionally, the two Departments at NC State University between which the program components had been split, merged into a single Department becoming the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences.

Minnie Miller Brown (1922-1995) was the first state EFNEP Coordinator in North Carolina. She served in that role from 1969 when EFNEP was created until her retirement in 1981. Other state EFNEP Coordinators are listed below:

NC State University
EFNEP Coordinators:
Minnie Miller Brown 1969 - 1981
Mary J. Whitmore 1981 - 1989
Ngaire van Eck 1989 - 1997
Susan Baker 1997 - 2004
Lorelei Jones 2005 to present

4-H EFNEP Coordinators:
Cleo Edwards 1971 - 1976
Richard Liles 1976 - 1981
Ann Frazier 1981 - 2001
Lynn Hoggard 2001 - 2003
Carolyn Davis 2005 - 2011

NC A & T State University
Nutrition Outreach Coordinator:
Stephanie Tatum 2006 - 2008
Mallorye Lovett 2010 - 2011
Anne-Marie Gloster 2011 - 2012
Shewana Hairston McSwain 2013 - present

EFNEP is still working with families in North Carolina and across the nation. It continues to encourage positive behavior change among its participants. EFNEP continues to use "hands-on" experiences as a teaching strategy. Recent studies show that not only is EFNEP addressing the issues for which it was originated, but it also provides educational intervention to combat overweight and nutrition-related diseases. Studies show for every $1 invested in EFNEP, there is approximately a $10 savings in health care costs of the participants. This makes EFNEP one of the best investments of taxpayer dollars and one of the most successful nutrition education programs for limited resource families in the country.


Federal Guidelines

Federal policies governing the use of EFNEP funds can be found at the following website: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/nea/food/efnep/pdf/program-policy.pdf


Program Philosophy

EFNEP is an integral part of the NC Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences programs. Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s) working in EFNEP teach: basic nutrition and physical activity information, food resource management and meal planning, and food safety to eligible limited resource youth and families with children. NC State and NC A & T State Universities have the challenge and the responsibility of providing additional educational experiences to EFNEP youth and families, giving them further opportunities for personal development beyond EFNEP participation. The use of EFNEP materials in other NC Cooperative Extension programs can contribute to interaction and can serve as a bridge between NC Cooperative Extension programs.



EFNEP's targeted audience is limited resource families with young children (under the age of 19) living in the household and who are eligible for public assistance. EFNEP serves individuals and families who are expecting a child (pregnant) or who provide non-custodial care for children on a regular basis (grandparent or non-custodial parent) as long as these individuals meet the income guidelines and are responsible for the planning, shopping, and preparing food for the children in their care. EFNEP also serves limited resource, school-age children.

The primary audiences for EFNEP are limited resource:

  • Pregnant women
  • Families with young children (under the age of 19) living in either rural or urban areas who are responsible for the planning, purchasing and preparing of the family's food
  • Pregnant and Parenting Teens
  • School-age youth (5 - 19 years of age)

The assurance that all eligible persons shall bear equal access to the benefits of the program and facilities without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability is an important objective of Cooperative Extension. In addition, NC Cooperative Extension welcomes all persons without regard to sexual orientation.


State Staff

EFNEP is a part of the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences. Counties that participate in EFNEP are served by trained Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s) who teach participants using approved curricula. Local County Extension Directors supervise and evaluate the Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s). County FCS and 4-H Agents support Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s) in subject-matter expertise and networking with county agencies serving limited resource youth and families with young children.

NC State University and NC A & T State University collaborate through state-level staff to manage the program. Coordinators from both universities work together to provide: leadership to the program; manage and extend the fiscal resources of the program; provide high quality technical and subject matter training to the Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s) teaching youth and families; and select or develop appropriate curricula for the program component and the audience served. The coordinating team also provides leadership to program evaluation and reporting.

The State Coordinating Team includes:

  • Lorelei Jones, EFNEP Coordinator, NC State University
  • Shewana Hairston McSwain, Nutrition Programs Outreach Coordinator, NC A & T State University

NC Cooperative Extension utilizes District Extension Associates, EFNEP to provide on-going training, personal work-performance coaching and local program management. Extension Associates, EFNEP are employed through NC State University, but work with Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s) funded through both NC State University and NC A & T State University as well as with Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s) funded through local or grant funds. The Extension Associates, EFNEP are a part of the State Leadership Team.

The Extension Associates, EFNEP are:

  • Virginia New, West District
  • Judy D'Eredita, West Central District
  • Suzanne van Rijn, North Central District
  • Stephanie McDonald-Murray, South Central District
  • Susan Chase, Northeast District
  • Lisa Benavente, Southeast District

A state level support staff assists with data entry, management and analysis, report development, accounting and budget development and projection, production of training materials and supports the State Coordinating Team. The support staff includes:

  • Tony Benavente, Data Analyst, EFNEP, NC State University
  • Emily Foley, Extension Assistant, EFNEP, NC State University
  • Denise Lamb-Willis, Adminstrative Support Specialist, NC State University
  • Renee Jordan, Adminstrative Support Associate, NC State University



NC EFNEP partners with a variety of organizations and agencies to reach limited resource school age youth and families with young children. Key partners in the program include:

  • County Governments
  • NC Division of Public Health
  • NC Department of Public Instruction
  • NC Department of Social Services
  • NC Department of Parks and Recreation
  • WIC
  • Smart Start
  • Head Start
  • Local Faith-based organizations
  • After-school and day care centers
  • Housing Authorities
  • Migrant centers
  • Homeless Shelters
  • Food Banks
  • Family Courts

Cooperating agencies have a responsibility to provide:

  • Facility to meet participants (kitchen is optional)
  • Audience (limited resource school-age youth or families with young children)
  • Demonstration Supplies (food for preparation activity)
  • Adequate Time for program delivery to meet EFNEP objectives
  • Contact person

In some cases, partners also help access financial resources to bring EFNEP programming to the county or to expand the existing program.




EFNEP funds are appropriated by Congress under Section 3(d) of the Smith- Lever Act, as amended. These funds are allocated to the States on the basis of an administrative formula: 4% for Federal Administration; 10% of the amount appropriated is divided equally among the States and territories; and the remainder is divided according to the percent of the state population to the total U.S. population living at or below 125% of the income poverty guidelines.

According to the Guide for Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, USDA, HE-155 (8-74), revised after the May 1974 National EFNEP workshop, funds appropriated for this program may be used for:

  • Conducting an educational program with limited resource youth and families with young children in nutrition and subject matter closely related to nutrition.
  • Employment of paraprofessionals [Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s)]
  • Training Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s) in nutrition and nutrition-related subject matter or training related to working with limited resource audiences.
  • Training Professionals, Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s) and Volunteers to provide knowledge and skills necessary to bring about changed behavior in participants to include social, psychological, and economic factors necessary to understand the audience.
  • Space rental
  • Equipment necessary to conduct EFNEP
  • Support staff
  • Teaching materials
  • Employee benefits



Those responsible for EFNEP funds are accountable for appropriate use of funds, appropriate program content, staff-year equivalent for professionals and program assistants, and program delivery to the designated audiences. 60% of the allocated funds should be spent in support of Extension EFNEP Program Assistant/Associate(s) with a maximum of 40% of allocated funds spent in support of professionals.


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