About 150,000 low-income families participate in EFNEP each year, and food records have been collected by EFNEP for about 100,000 individuals for each of the past 10 years. The food records are entered into an EFNEP Evaluation/Reporting System, which is used to determine overall diet quality, based on key indicators: total fat, protein, carbohydrate, fiber, calories, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as the number of servings of each of the food guide pyramid food groups. Also administered with the food recall is a 10-item food practice checklist covering other behaviors of interest to EFNEP, including food safety, meal planning, use of nutrition labeling, comparing prices, and having children eat breakfast. Aggregate data are available as national summaries, as well as by state and by race—white, black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian/Pacific Islander. Individual-level data are not currently available for research use, but future plans may include a release of individual-level record data.
The EFNEP data have yet to be used for policy analysis purposes outside of the EFNEP program. Thus, the utility of these data is not fully known. The large samples of low-income individuals and survey questions are potentially valuable for enhancing understanding of policy issues for the low-income population. But since participation in this program is voluntary, participants are not a random sample of the low-income population and are likely to be different from those low-income individuals who did not choose to participate.