WSU Extension boosts community health through nutrition, active lifestyle education

A participant completes a worksheet titled "Make Half Your Grains Whole."

According to the 2018 Washington State Food Survey, 30% of households in Washington experience food insecurity. Nearly 40% of households report low physical activity.

To address these public health concerns, two programs offered through Washington State University Extension benefit families statewide through healthy eating and active lifestyle education.

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, called EFNEP, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, or SNAP-Ed, create lasting change for those who take part.

In 2022, Washington state EFNEP and SNAP-Ed each reached around 3,000 adults and youth through direct education.

“I fell in love with this work because I can connect with people and communities to address public health on a broader scale through policy changes,” said Jen Moss, WSU Extension’s SNAP-Ed Curriculum, Training, and Website team manager.

Headshot of Jen Moss against plant backdrop.
Jen Moss, WSU Extension’s SNAP-Ed Curriculum, Training, and Website team manager.

Led in Washington by Extension faculty, SNAP-Ed and EFNEP are national programs addressing health and hunger among families and children. SNAP-Ed is a federal grant program supporting the health and food security of people who qualify for SNAP food assistance benefits, formerly known as food stamps.

EFNEP is a federal Extension program that operates through the land-grant university system. EFNEP in Washington focuses on direct education of low-income families in the metropolitan areas of Spokane, Tacoma, and Vancouver.

Educators in both programs meet with participants in many different settings, including early learning centers, housing assistance offices, food banks and pantries, public school classrooms, school and community gardens, and farmers markets. They teach people from a variety of backgrounds how to create a meal plan, shop for nutritious foods on a budget, and cook a recipe, among other topics.

Recipes are offered through the SNAP-Ed Live Well website or EFNEP’s Recipes website, respectively. Meals include spring favorites, like pasta primavera. Dessert might include fruit pizza.

Grocery store tours complement SNAP-Ed’s direct education. Participants learn how to read food labels, stretch food dollars, and how to shop for more nutritious ingredients for made-from-scratch recipes.

Outreach from Washington SNAP-Ed that impacts the environments where people live and play includes creating a Safe Routes to School program to promote active transportation or supporting partners in starting community and school gardens. Produce from these gardens is often offered free to SNAP-Ed participants who frequent the garden as well as their families, or is given to food banks.

Indirect outreach from SNAP-Ed impacted more than 1 million Washington state residents in 2022.

Cultivating healthier communities

Headshot of Kylie Pybus against white backdrop.
Kylie Pybus, WSU Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program assistant director.

WSU EFNEP assistant director Kylie Pybus points to the results she sees from the program.

“For nine weeks, we meet with adults or youth to cook together and be physically active, so we have an opportunity to meet the goals EFNEP participants set, whether that’s healthier family meals and snacks, shopping on a budget, or being physically active,” Pybus said.

After the course, nearly 100% of EFNEP adult participants report both improved diet quality and food resource management behaviors, such as eating more fruits and vegetables and creating a food budget and grocery list, while 88% report improved physical activity behaviors.

These behavior changes help create a long-standing healthier lifestyle for EFNEP participants.

“That’s the reason I connect with this work,” said Pybus. “This programming makes communities healthier and stronger.”

Learn more about SNAP-Ed and EFNEP

Many resources further explain the reach and recent impacts of both SNAP-Ed and EFNEP, including the SNAP-Ed in Washington and Washington State SNAP-Ed Providers websites, as well as Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program website.

Media Contacts

Jen Moss, SNAP-Ed Curriculum, Training, and Website Team Manager, Email:, Telephone: 206-948-0505

Kylie Pybus, EFNEP Assistant Director, Email:, Telephone: 509-477-2190