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Oklahoma State University

About NEAs

Who are the NEAs?

CNEP employs and educates individuals within the community to serve as teaching paraprofessionals known as Nutrition Education Assistants (NEAs).

CNEP promotes the basic premise of employing people that are indigenous to the community. Some of the NEAs have experience with public assistance programs. The personal experience of needing some type of assistance provides a bridge between the NEA and the families they teach.

Quality CNEP in-service education helps NEAs become effective teachers as well as knowledgeable about basic nutrition, money management skills, food safety and food preparation expertise. With experience, NEAs become excellent teachers as they hone their nutrition knowledge.

Other agencies find NEAs to be excellent candidates for positions within their organization and actively recruit them. CNEP considers these "moves up the career ladder" success stories

What do NEAs do?

NEAs coach for behavior change with the families that they enroll and teach. Every NEA has two goals. These are: (1) help families improve their diet and (2) help families learn how to manage their resources so they can eat as well at the end of the month as the beginning. Seldom do any of us make large-scale behavior changes quickly. We usually make many small changes one at a time that add up to a large-scale change in our life. The same principle is true for families enrolled in CNEP. Most enrolled families meet with the NEAs at least 3 times each month up to 9 to 11 months. This allows time for the NEAs and families to decide what changes the family wants to make and then the setting and accomplishing of mini goals. NEAs work with families on a one-to-one basis in their homes or in small neighborhood groups. This education design allows for a personalized learning experience for each family. NEAs often provide the only positive learning support that many homemakers have ever experienced. Some families living in chaotic conditions appreciate the calming and leveling influence of the NEAs.