SAN BENITO — The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service helps young families and youth with limited resources.
They help those most at risk of suffering from hunger, food insecurity and the inability to connect with available support systems.
Today, the program will kick off a series of six free nutrition classes.
Letty Gomez, community outreach worker for the City of San Benito said the goal of the classes is to educate the public and encourage healthy eating.
The classes will offer practical lessons in basic nutrition, food preparation, food budget management and food safety in settings convenient for the participants.
Every week, participants will prepare a healthy meal during class.
The classes will also focus on fitness.
To get fit, the city also offers a Zumba class that Gomez said everyone is welcome to attend.
Program graduates reflect significant, lasting improvement in eating behaviors and healthy food habits.
Experts say Texas has a need for EFNEP.
“2014 data show that 20 percent of Texas families with children under the age of 18 were living below poverty level, compared to 18 percent of U.S. families,” the extension service stated.
As a result of participation in EFNEP, the following food and nutrition behaviors were achieved in 2015:
– 95 percent showed positive change in any food group at exit.
– 89 percent improved in one or more food resource management practices such as using a list for grocery shopping.
– 83 percent improved in one or more nutrition practices such as using the “Nutrition Facts” on food labels to make food choices.
– 78 percent improved in one or more food safety practices such as thawing foods safely.
– 29 percent of program participants reported a positive change in physical activity.
Studies have shown that for every $1 spent of EFNEP, $10 were estimated to be saved in health care costs and $2 saved in food costs by participants.
For Cameron County, this is $3 million in estimated health care cost savings and almost $616,986 in food costs.
The classes will be held at 10 a.m. at the Community Building, 210 E. Heywood, in San Benito. For more information, contact Letty Gomez, community outreach worker for the City of San Benito, at 956-357-4564.
In Cameron County, ethnically diverse EFNEP nutrition assistants reach youth and adult groups whose principal language may be English or Spanish.
– 1,506 families enrolled in EFNEP.
– 4,971 youth contacts were made through the EFNEP youth program.
– 89 EFNEP participants were pregnant and/or nursing.
– 64 percent of families were at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
– 70 percent of families were enrolled in one or more food assistance programs at entry.
– 86 percent of EFNEP adult participants were Hispanic/Latino.