Monday, July 28, 2014

CNDH: Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program

Through a partnership with District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), CNDH offers workshops to teen parents. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is a research-based nutrition program funded by National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the USDA and offered free for those who are eligible. The program teaches healthy lifestyle choices to low-income youth and families with young children.

New Heights Teen Parents Program, 
Anacostia Senior High School

One of our partners in this program is Anacostia Senior High school in Ward 8 where CNDH educators teach students how to prepare healthy meals for their families. The New Heights Teen Parents program is a school-based initiative that engages expectant and parenting students in 13 District of Columbia Public Schools. The program seeks to improve the attendance and graduation rates of these students to prepare them for college or careers, and prevent subsequent pregnancies. To participate, the student must be enrolled in DCPS and be an expectant or parenting student. 

Not just a job, EFNEP is personal for program coordinator James Lee, who is a native Washingtonian and product of the DCPS. “The New Heights program provides an opportunity for a nutrition educator to change and improve the diet of the mother while teaching her how to make healthy food choices for her infant. With EPNEP, we have a chance to influence an entire household,” explained Lee, who is also a graduate of UDC’s Nutrition and Food Science program, and has a Master of Science in Public and Community Health from Trinity Washington University.

Over a series of workshops held during Anacostia’s lunch period during the 2013-2014 academic year, CNDH Chef Tyrome “Chef T” Henson taught the New Heights students how to make simple, healthy meals. Not only did Chef T introduce the students to new fruits and vegetables, he also taught them how to make meals using ingredients which most likely can already be found in their homes.

“Our goal is to make an impact and to change their eating habits,” explained Chef Tyrome Henson.

The EFNEP program also teaches students how to shop for fresh produce, a common task that is not always given for residents of Ward 8, one of D.C.’s food deserts. Outreach programs like the CNDH/New Heights partnership help to promote food security, or the availability and accessibility to healthy food.

“I think unhealthy eating habits are learned behaviors that start at child birth. If the mother eats unhealthily, she passes it on to her infant,” stated Lee.

This type of collaboration is important to Ward 8, which as a food desert, does not have access to fresh and nutritious food. Residents of food deserts are often supplied by inexpensive fast food venues, resulting in food related health issues including obesity, hypertension and diabetes. 

According to the Washington Post, 37.4 percent of the District’s households with children are unable to afford food, a rate among the highest in the country. These households are food insecure, which means cutting meals and not having enough to eat on a daily basis, often leading to health issues.

“There are many preventable diseases in Anacostia that are directly related to health and nutrition,” explained Michelle Victoria Bellard, program coordinator for the Anacostia New Heights Teen Parent Program.

New Heights participants learn new and healthy ways of cooking, how to read recipes and how to present food. These newly-learned skills will serve the students for the rest of their lives. Another benefit is that by learning to cook for themselves, the students do not have to rely on parents and grandparents.

“This class has taught me how to eat right,” commented one of the participants. “I eat healthier now, and so does my family.”

Additionally, the students are able to use cooking as a way to spend time with their children as they use the knowledge gained through EFNEP workshops.

“The students are learning to appreciate the one on one time cooking offers them with their kids,” explained Ciatta Ramble-Savoy, New Heights Anacostia program coordinator.

To CAUSES, healthy eating habits are an important part of our quality of life and our well-being. It is our mission to measurably improve the quality of life and economic prosperity of people and communities in the District of Columbia, and the CNDH/New Heights collaboration does just that.

“At its heart, CAUSES stands for improving the quality of life for the residents of the District of Columbia,” explained Dr. Sabine O’Hara, dean and director of landgrant programs, CAUSES. “There is no seal of approval greater than seeing these students learning how to eat healthier at school, and knowing they are going home and passing those lessons along to their children, parents and grandparents.”

Just concluding its second year, the successful New Heights collaboration is expected to continue during the upcoming academic year. Watch this CAUSESTV episode to learn more about the New Heights/CNDH collaboration.

EFNEP's Impact
The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program can be found throughout the District, as are CNDH community educators. 

"I like working for CNDH and helping people around the city," said Dorathea Simpkins, another CNDH specialist.

One of her recent sessions was at a Ward 8 summer camp, where participants ranging in the ages from 6-13 and learned how to make healthy homemade ice cream--a cool refreshment in the blistering D.C. Summer heat!

The impact of the EFNEP program has a long reach: 
  •       100% reported now eat a variety of foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains).
  •       76.0% reported using the “Nutrition Facts” on the food label to make food choices.
  •       53.0% reported increase in moderate activity daily (30-60) minutes.
  •       72.7% decrease intake of solid fats and added sugar.
And it’s not just the participants who gain fulfillment from EFNEP. "Nutrition is my passion. This is a great opportunity for me to take what I've learned and educating people in return," explained Helen Naylor, a 2014 graduate of UDC's Nutrition and Dietetics program who now works for CNDH.

For more information on the Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health, visit or contact Program Director Dr. Lillie Monroe-Lord at For more information on EFNEP, contact
Program Assistant James Lee at

 EFNEP Sites

DCPS/New Heights Sites
Ballou STAY
Cardozo Education Campus
Columbia Htgs Education Campus
Luke C. Moore
Spingarn STAY 
Washington MET
Next Step Charter
IDEA Public Charter 
DC Dept. of Parks and Recreation
Hearst Recreation Center
Community Adults Sites
Northwest Settlement House
Dance Institute of Washington
Community Service Foundation 
Arthur Capper Community Center
Benning Courts Community Center
Benning Park Community Center
Brookland Manor Community Center
Congress Park Community Center
Frederick Douglass Community Center
King Towers Community Center
Park Naylor Community Center
The Pentacle Community Center

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