Federal nutrition education programs like EFNEP (the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) use a peer educator model to teach low-income Americans about healthy eating behaviors. Collaborative partnerships are an essential means to the sustainability and reach of the EFNEP program. The University of Georgia (UGA) EFNEP has not previously measured the impact community research partnerships may have on enrollment and graduation rates for EFNEP programming.
To examine how the research process for recruiting, incentives offered, and continued contact with a community research partner affect UGA EFNEP enrollment and graduation rates.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) partnered with UGA Extension/EFNEP to examine how a community nutrition intervention may affect nutrition outcomes of expecting mothers and fathers (Project DINE). UGA EFNEP provided an eight-week virtual nutrition education to three counties (rural and metro-areas). Participants were African American, expecting a baby, and enrolled in Healthy Start. Participants who completed the program received up to $200 per person ($400 per couple) in financial incentives.
Enrollment, participation and graduation rates data were analyzed using the USDA NIFA Web-based Nutrition Education, Evaluation and Reporting System (WebNEERS). Study participants’ data were analyzed and compared to data for EFNEP participants in similar communities who were not enrolled in any research project
For FY21, preliminary data indicate that UGA EFNEP Project DINE participants (n = 64) had a graduation rate of 51.6%, whereas, UGA EFNEP participants from these communities (and who were not participating in Project DINE) (n = 159) had a graduation rate of 33.3%
Community research partnerships may positively affect UGA EFNEP graduation rates. More research is needed to explore specific relationships between graduation rates and factors such as research recruitment methods, financial incentives, and target populations.