A Day Without Food? Not If This Extension Program Can Help It.

Extension Master Food Volunteers conduct a cooking demonstration.

Imagine a day without food. How would you feel? What would your energy level be? Would you be able to think of anything else?

Or maybe just a day without any fresh vegetables or fruit. A day that you only eat inexpensive snack food or something from the dollar menu.

For many, this is everyday life. But EFNEP, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program from N.C. Cooperative Extension, is working to change that.

For 50 years, EFNEP has been fighting to free individuals from food insecurity, poor nutrition and choices that are detrimental to the health of families. To celebrate the 50-year milestone and to plan for the next 50 years, EFNEP staff from across the state gathered in Raleigh last week.

EFNEP staff coordinated and executed nine discussion groups with key stakeholders from government, health care, academia, public health and EFNEP participants, to better determine the vision for the next 50 years. At the heart of the resulting plan, which was presented to conference participants last week, the program will focus on partnerships to extend programming into every N.C. county, and working with healthcare providers to connect limited income patients to EFNEP services for preventative care.

During the anniversary celebration, a number of individuals were honored. Most notably, Cheri Bennett of Union County was awarded the Minnie Miller Brown award. This award was named for the first state EFNEP coordinator in North Carolina, Minnie Brown, who was a professor, a Winthrop Rockefeller Award for Distinguishing Rural Service winner, and all-around passionate advocate for those in need.

Cheri Bennett was recognized with the Minnie Miller Brown award for her work to develop strong partnerships with Union County, obtaining sponsorships to enhance EFNEP programs and reaching underserved audiences, including individuals who are visually impaired. She is focused on cross-promoting her work within the Extension organization to better reach and serve more individuals in need.

Others honored during the conference include:

Over the Mark Award

  • Ali Alfonso, Wake County
  • Brooke Beeksma, Gaston County
  • Rebekah Benton, Columbus County
  • Patty Bowers, Chowan and Perquimans Counties
  • Kathy Copeland, Bertie County
  • Mary Davis, Halifax County
  • Sara Freeman, Transylvania County
  • Renee Goodnight, Cabarrus County
  • Lethia Lee, Sampson County
  • Ashley McCrae, Robeson County
  • Hazel McPhatter, Scotland County
  • Paula Norris, Wake County
  • Hiliana Patino, Wake County
  • Carol Pitts, Macon County
  • Margaret Ruff, Buncombe County
  • Ahira Sanchez, Johnston County
  • Rocio Sedo, Forsyth County
  • Nicole Swinson, Cuplin County

New EFNEP Educator Award

  • Paula Norris, Wake County

Team Award

  • Janet Bryan and Stephanie Faw, McDowell County
  • Kathy Copeland, Whitney Watson and Guy Holley, Bertie County

Golden Star Award

  • Christina Chapman, Wake County
  • Earlean Rivers, Duplin County
  • Kristie Williams, Chowan County

Social Media Award

  • Brooke Beeksma, Gaston County

Circle of Excellence

  • Cheri Bennett, Union County
  • Patty Bowers, Chowan and Perquimans Counties

Circle of Excellence – Gold

  • Rebekah Benton, Columbus County
  • Rhonda Church, Ashe County
  • Della Hicks, Pasquotank County
  • Rocio Sedo, Forsyth County
  • Tammy Vincent, Northampton County

Circle of Excellence – Diamond

  • Hazel McPhatter, Scotland County

EFNEP Endowment

  • Rhonda Church, Ashe County
  • Seydel Cropps, Surry County

Susan McCaskill Morgan Professional Development

  • Paula Norris, Wake County

Ngaire van Eck Professional Development

  • Cheri Bennett, Union County

EFNEP Champions

  • Gideon Adams and Sara Clement, Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina
  • Dana Braswell, Union County
  • Lisa Benavente, NC State
  • Anna Bess Brown, N.C. Division of Public Health
  • Representative Becky Carney, District 102, Mecklenburg County
  • Mishawne Carrington, Guilford County
  • Eileen Coite, Sampson County
  • Carolyn Dunn, NC State
  • Ann Frazier, Retired
  • Kahla Hall, Pitt County
  • Wilma Hammett, Retired
  • Ann Murr, Summit Rotary’s First 1000 Days Team
  • Sheila Powell, Bertie County
  • Liz Reasoner, Laura Williams and Faye Knowles, Food Bank of the Albemarle
  • Cathy Thomas, N.C. Division of Public Health
  • Rosa Torres, Surry County

EFNEP works to positively impact the physical, mental, financial and emotional health of participants by providing peer-to-peer, hands-on education. Last year alone, more than 17,000 individuals in 45 counties received support from an EFNEP program in North Carolina, and the program boasted a $10 savings on overall healthcare costs for every dollar invested.

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is a federally-funded program conducted through N.C. Cooperative Extension. A strategic partnership comprising NC State and N.C. A&T State universities, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as well as state and local governments, N.C. Cooperative Extension partners with communities to deliver research-based education and technology that enrich the lives, land and economy of North Carolinians.

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