Penn State Nutrition Links

Posted: June 1, 2011

Penn State Nutrition Links is an umbrella administration for two federally funded nutrition education programs for limited resource audiences in Pennsylvania. EFNEP – Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program was initially part of the Smith Lever Act of 1969. The program focuses on helping families with children improve behaviors in: dietary intake as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines and MyPlate, food resource management skills and practices, nutrition practices and food safety practices.

Participants increase their ability to select and buy food that meets the nutritional needs of their families and gain new skills in food preparation, food storage, and food safety. They learn to better manage their food budgets - including the use of Food Stamps and WIC vouchers. The unique feature of EFNEP is the method of program delivery. By employing paraprofessionals, who are indigenous to the areas in which they would work, the Nutrition Education Advisor (NEA) has a better understanding of and relationship with their students. Penn State Extension collaborates with 71 different agencies in South Central Pennsylvania. Most of these are through churches and food assistance programs (food pantries). Beginning in 2002, Food Stamps began funding PA TRACKS, a cost share education program. This is a community-based nutrition education program for individuals and families who receive or are eligible to receive Food Stamps. Our cost share and programming is mostly in the Harrisburg City schools, the York City schools, and the Area Agency on Aging in Dauphin and Lancaster Counties.

The program goal is to increase the likelihood that Food Stamp recipients will use their food dollars and Food Stamps appropriately, make healthy food choices consistent with the MyPyramid and the Dietary Guidelines, and provide a safe meal environment. People can improve their everyday lives through participation in PA TRACKS programs.

What can you do to help? We are always looking for community partners who can donate supplies for the participants (anything from a pot holder to an electricmixer). If you or someone you know would like to assistin recruiting people who are low income to attend classes,volunteer to assist at programs, assist with childcare orpaperwork; please contact me at or 717-921-8803.

Deb Boyd, Capital Area Supervising EducatorPA Nutrition Education Program