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By Ryan McGeeney U of A System Division of AgricultureSept. 20, 2019
(531 words) (Newsrooms: With art at https://flic.kr/s/aHsmGLmQkk)(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
LITTLE ROCK – Food and consumer science agents, program associates and other public
education professionals celebrated the 50th anniversary of one of the most successful nutritional outreach programs earlier this
month, as the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, or EFNEP, turned 50.
EFNEP began as a pilot program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Alabama in
1968, aimed at helping families who relied on food stamps — now commonly known as
the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — make the most of their benefits,
said Keith Statham-Cleek, a family and consumer science program associate for the
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“The program came about because we realized, after issuing food stamps, that our participants
were running out of food each month,” Statham-Cleek said. “EFNEP helps people stretch
their dollar by teaching them how to preserve food safely, increase physical activity
and about general nutrition.”
In 1969, EFNEP was permanently funded through the U.S. Farm Bill. The original intent
was that the program would train “paraprofessional aides,” who would then reach out
to the country’s poorest families in both rural areas and cities, and teach them the
fundamentals of creating nutritionally balanced eating habits, pursuing personal development
and physical well-being.
In Arkansas, the Cooperative Extension Service operates EFNEP programs in 17 of the
state’s 75 counties, most of which are in the Delta region, Statham-Cleek said.
On Sept. 5, about 100 program associates from around the state attended a 50th anniversary celebration at the Cooperative Extension headquarters in Little Rock.
Susan Forte, executive director of Houseaboutit, a non-profit community and economic
development agency, spoke to attendees in her keynote address.
“I know you go about your work very intentionally,” Forte said. “There’s a barrier
to break through, in order to teach people how to eat right.”
Forte said that while the state is facing multiple health crises, agents shouldn’t
feel so overwhelmed that they can’t address individual issues.
“Yes, we have an obesity problem,” She said. “But you can be obese without blood pressure
issues. Without diabetes.”
The celebration also included a half-hour “historical tour” of EFNEP through the decades,
highlighting both the program’s growth and achievements over a half century as well
as cultural milestones that marked the passage of that time.
In the afternoon, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson presented a congratulatory letter
from his office to Dr. Mark Cochran, Vice President for Agriculture for the University
of Arkansas System, in recognition of the EFNEP program and the tens of thousands
of Arkansans it has served over the decades.
Doze Butler, dean and director for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff School
of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences, was also among several speakers throughout
the day’s events to address attendees. As she concluded her remarks, Butler quoted
a Chinese proverb, emphasizing the importance of investing in the well-being of Arkansans.
“If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain,” she said. “If you want 10 years
of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.”
To learn about food and consumer science in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative
Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow the Cooperative Extension Service on Twitter at @uaex_edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org