AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University Extension’s Family Nutrition Program (FNP) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) have earned the Iowa Family Support Credential from the Iowa Department of Management. Together the two nutrition education programs for low-income families are only the ninth Iowa program to earn this distinction.
The Iowa Family Support Credential is awarded to family support and parent education programs that go through an external evaluation and are found to substantially adhere to the Iowa Family Support Standards. The credential is valid for five years.
FNP and EFNEP help low-income parents provide nutritious food for their families, leading to healthy children and strong families. The programs also help low-income youth make choices for better health. The two programs “are doing a remarkable job of providing consistently high quality family support services,” noted State Family Support Coordinator Janet Horras, who also is a home visitation program coordinator with the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The Iowa Department of Management defines family support as community-based services designed to enable and empower families. Programs that provide family support build on individual and family capabilities to strengthen parenting and overall family functioning. Families who participate in programs that provide family support learn how to improve their children’s health and wellbeing, how to function better as a family and how to connect within their community.
“We’re honored to earn the Iowa Family Support Credential,” said Peggy Martin, ISU Extension’s EFNEP and FNP coordinator. The Iowa Family Support Standards are based on the most up to date, evidence-based practices in the family support field, Martin explained. “The credential confirms our confidence that our nutrition program is providing high quality services that will result in better health for young children and their families.”
ISU Extension’s EFNEP and FNP are federally funded programs currently offered in 25 counties. At the county level, the programs have been reviewed and credentialed in Buena Vista, Des Moines, Linn, Louisa, Madison, Scott, Story and Warren counties. The remaining counties will be reviewed later this year and are expected to be credentialed, Martin said.
Last year EFNEP and FNP improved health behaviors in 2,144 low-income Iowa families with young children, including 119 pregnant teens, Martin said. Program staff members meet with participants one-on-one and in small groups for nutrition education lessons that include activities, worksheets, games and cooking.
“Families and youth strengthen communication, decision-making and problem-solving skills through the lessons. These life skills help participants nurture their family relationships and also obtain employment,” Martin said.
In addition, 15,605 low-income youth received ISU Extension nutrition education through school enrichment, after school and summer day-camp programs. Extension nutrition programs help youth develop into healthy adults by making good choices related to diet, physical activity and food safety, Martin said.
For more information about EFNEP and FNP, contact Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-294-1511.