Extension Nutrition Program
University of Idaho
PO Box 443183
Moscow, Idaho 83844-3183
Extension Nutrition Program
is Idaho's Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program
The Extension Nutrition Program (ENP) is a University of Idaho Extension education program that is designed to help limited resource adults learn how to stretch their food dollars to provide tasty, low-cost, healthy meals for their families. Research has found that when families take charge of their diets and food budgets they frequently begin taking control over other areas of their lives. ENP teaches nutrition and consumer related skills that lead to individual change. Therefore, ENP helps families in Idaho move toward increased self-sufficiency. It is helpful for those who are transitioning from welfare to work.
Purpose and Goals
For over 30 years University of Idaho Extension has effectively conducted food and nutrition education through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). The program targets limited-income families with young children. Education needs escalated throughout the state, but funding levels enabled only two areas in Idaho to provide EFNEP for limited-income families. Since other communities and populations had similar needs, additional program and funding partnerships through the Food Stamp programs were sought. The ENP is modeled after the EFNEP program, but serves geographic areas and clientele not reached through EFNEP.
Why is nutrition education critical for the health and well-being of children and their families? Under-nutrition along with environmental factors associated with poverty can permanently retard physical growth, brain development, and cognitive functioning. The longer a child's nutritional, emotional, and educational needs are not met, the greater the likelihood of cognitive impairments.
The goal of the Idaho Extension Nutrition Program is to increase the self-sufficiency of food stamp individuals and families through community-based, informal experiential education that builds basic living skills and decision-making capabilities, and instills the value of life-long learning.
Program funding is provided by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Food Stamp Program. For every dollar requested from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service for the operation of ENP, the state of Idaho provides matching dollars in the form of salaries and expenses. The current budget for FY2010 is $1,764.420 ($882,210 federal and $882,210 state).
County extension educators along with the state nutrition education specialist guide the program. Federal funds support the hiring of project coordinators and part-time Nutrition Advisors. Nutrition Advisors, who are paraprofessionals from the target populations, are trained and supervised by extension educators. Bilingual paraprofessionals are located at program sites with a high proportion of participants whose native language is not English.
Training opportunities for Nutrition Advisors vary from program to program. All of the paraprofessionals have a minimum of eight hours orientation training and one to two hours training every other week. Periodic staff training meetings focus on nutrition information, tips on working with the target audience, and lesson development.
Food stamp recipients and those who are eligible for food stamps are contacted about ENP through food stamp offices, job service contractors, WIC, Head Start, and other helping agencies where participants have qualifying incomes. These classes are taught by the Nutrition Advisors and cover information on dietary quality, food safety, food resource management, and physical activity. Youth participants are taught in classrooms and after-school programs at schools where more than 50% of the school population is receiving free or reduced price school lunches.