University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Eat Well Nutrition Education Program is a statewide program funded with federal Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) dollars. As a result of the federal funding, the audience for the Eat Well Nutrition Education Program includes low-income adults with children in the household and low-income youth in Maine. UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Eat Well Nutrition Education program operates in twelve of sixteen counties in Maine.
UMaine Cooperative Extension Eat Well staff deliver evidence-based curricula to adults with children in the household. Participants learn about healthy food preparation, nutrition, food safety, food budgeting, and physical activity through hands-on activities.
In fiscal year 2013, 377 adult participants throughout Maine demonstrated improved behaviors in healthier eating (91%), food resource management (planning, shopping and cooking) (87%), physical activity (42%), and food safety (28%).
Participants report an increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables by over one-half cup when they graduated from the program. Participants also reported a reduction in sodium intake after participating in the program.
As a result of participating in the Eat Well Program, program graduates saved money on their monthly food bills. The average savings per month per household was $36, which equals a total household cost savings of $432 per year, while improving the quality of food consumed. The total cost savings for all graduate households was $4,960 per month, for a total annual food cost savings of $59,520.
In addition to working with adults, UMaine Cooperative Extension Eat Well staff provided nutrition education to 5,026 Maine youth in grades K-12 (ages 5-18) through a variety of community, school, and after school programs. Youth who participate in UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Eat Well Program learn new skills and practice behaviors that will help them improve their eating habits, prepare food safely, and become more physically active.
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Image Description: Extension nutritionist dishing out food to program participants; photo by Edwin Remsberg
Image Description: improved behaviors (adults) in nutrition practices (91%), food resource management (87%), food safety (42%), and physical activity (28%)
Image Description: boy with green beans; photo by Edwin Remsberg