Date of Award

Summer 8-2019

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Food Science and Human Nutrition


Mona Therrien

Second Committee Member

Kathryn Yerxa

Third Committee Member

Angela Daley


Background:The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is a federally funded program through the United States Department of Agriculture that offers nutrition education to low income families across the U.S.

Purpose:This study assessed the effectiveness of Maine EFNEP on food-related behavior change and diet quality as measured by the Healthy Eating Index-2005 (HEI). This study also explored the relationship between the results on the HEI and participation in food assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as the number of hours spent in the program.

Methodology:This study was a pre-post-secondary analysis of data gathered from WebNEERS, the database utilized by EFNEP. Diet recall data from fiscal years 2013-2016 were utilized to derive a healthy eating index score and sub-scores for each food group. T-tests and Ordinary Least Squares regressions were used to analyze data. Statistical analysis was conducted using STATA Special Edition 14.1.

Results:Total HEI score and sub-scores improved pre- to post-EFNEP at the 1% level, except for saturated fat, which improved at the 5% level. Sodium and total grains scores decreased post-EFNEP (p=.003) and (p=.05) respectively. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation had no effect on HEI scores. Less than 7 hours in the program was associated with a smaller improvement in total HEI score (p=.05) and a reduction in the sodium score (p=.03), when compared to spending 7-16 hours in the program.

Conclusion:EFNEP is effective in improving the diet quality of Maine participants