Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

May is Older Americans Month – Photo credit: Wendy Meredith

“Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” are grandparents who are caregivers for their grandchildren.  They have obtained temporary custody or have adopted because the grandchildren’s biological parents often are either incarcerated for crimes related to drugs and/or alcohol addictions or the parents are deceased due to their lifestyles and addictions.  The UF/IFAS Escambia County Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) ​has partnered with the Council on Aging in our area to work with these “great” grandparents.  EFNEP is a series of nine lessons.  We teach parents and grandparents raising grandchildren the knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed to raise healthy families.

What EFNEP Offers Grandparents Raising Grandchildren


Eating Smart Being Active. Tell us your story – we listen to you.  We share helpful resources available in the county.

Get Moving!

Let’s Be Active. Learn Physical Fitness with Exercises and Games for the family. Drink Water.

Plan, Shop, and Save!

Plan for nutritious meals and recipes.  Shop on a budget and save money.

Fruits and Vegetables Half Your Plate!

Make simple, family-friendly recipes using fruits and vegetables.  Use all varieties including what’s in season and grown locally.  Learn about important family vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

Make Half Your Grains Whole Grains!

How many grains do I need a day? Why is it important to eat grains?

Go Lean with Protein!

What are animal proteins?  What are plant proteins? How much protein do you need each day? What is a lean protein?

Build Strong Bones!

What are sources of low-fat or no-fat dairy?  How many servings does your family need each day?

Make a Change!

What are good ways to get rid of too many fats, salts, and sugars from your families’ daily meals and snacks?


Each EFNEP participant receives a certificate of completion to frame and hang in their home.

Why are Grandparents Raising Grandchildren?

The opioid epidemic is affecting so many families and, really, these folks should be enjoying retirement and their “Older Years.”  We are here to supply grandparents who are raising grandchildren with education and tools that equip them to raise healthy and happy children.

EFNEP is here to help

Grandparents Shopping Healthy – Photo credit: Wendy Meredith

EFNEP aids in the challenge with recipes, activities, cooking skills, and researched info. Then we educate about nutritious foods, food safety, physical activity, and how to shop for food on a limited budget. We also provide fresh produce grown, harvested, and donated by the Extension Master Gardeners for in-class recipe tastings. We have, on occasion, taken the grandparents to a local grocery store to “put into action” what they have learned in the EFNEP classes. Each one is given a challenge to purchase a healthy item from each of the five food groups with money that is provided for them.

We also are currently working with Fresh Access Bucks (FAB), which enables us to share with our Grandparents Raising Grandchildren the locations and times of local Farmers Markets and Produce Stands that are FAB partners and accept SNAP and WIC when purchasing Fresh Florida Grown Produce.

Raising children can be hard in our younger adult years.  Raising children in our “Older Years” can be extremely challenging, overwhelming, or downright exhausting.  Through our partnership, we have been able to help the grandparents by eliminating some of their everyday stresses.  We do this by offering them fun, factual, and fresh ideas about nutritious foods and how to prepare yummy, kid-approved snacks and meals.  Working with the grandparents has been and continues to be very rewarding.  They are always eager to learn and they are committed to the program.  And they are so grateful for our involvement.  The big smiles on the faces of the Super Grandmas and Super Grandpas say it all!!!


National Grandparents Day 2017:  September 10

National Grandparents Day 2017: September 10

For nearly 40 years, National Grandparents Day has been celebrated as an opportunity to express gratitude for all that grandparents do for families and communities.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau Profile, America Facts for Features, in 1970, Marian McQuade initiated a campaign to establish a day to honor grandparents.  In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a federal proclamation, declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day to be National Grandparents Day.

Across the U.S., not only are grandparents appreciated for sharing their time, wisdom, and values, but they are currently stepping up to raise over 7.2 million children under the age of 18 whose biological parents are unable to do so, thus keeping the children out of the foster care system.  In Florida, 11% of children live in homes where householders are grandparents or other relatives.

Locally, in Leon County, there are more than 2,000 grandparent-headed families, where:

  • 13.1% of the grandparents are 60 years and older
  • 39.8% of these families live below the poverty level
  • Nearly 50% of these families have had the children for 5 or more years

The reasons as to why so many grandparents are raising grandchildren are many and varied.  Nationally, substance abuse causes more than one third of this type of placement.  Nevertheless, because of a grandparent’s selfless devotion and generosity to the needs of others, grandparents are, in fact, owed a great deal of thanks for their altruism.

As one grandmother exclaimed, “For my 50th birthday, I got a 2 year-old.  My story isn’t unique.”  In fact, grandparent roles in children’s lives are so significant that the Grandparents as Parents (GaP) Program of the Tallahassee Senior Foundation, funded by the Leon County Commission, grants, and donations, has a program and support group just for them!  According to Karen Boebinger, GaP Program Coordinator, “The GaP program provides moral support and resource assistance to these grandfamilies who are trying to navigate through their new lifestyle.”

AARP® has streamlined the gathering of relevant information pertinent to this nationwide dilemma.  The AARP® resource, Grand Families Fact Sheet, includes state-specific data and programs available, as well as information about public benefits, educational assistance, legal relationship options, and state laws.  This fact sheet also contains many other resource tools such as the National Council on Aging’s questionnaire that helps grandparent caregivers and/or the children they are raising determine if they qualify for certain programs that pay for food, an increase in income, and/or home and healthcare costs.  Once the questionnaire is completed, the website generates a list of eligible programs and contact information.  (

Take a moment today and every day to give thanks and appreciation for the thousands of grandparents in our community and around the country for the service they do for children.  One thing is for certain:  grandparents are more valuable to their grandchildren and communities than ever.  Grandparents are indispensable and important people.

Want more information about supporting GaP or do you need support yourself?  Contact Karen Boebinger, GaP Program Coordinator, at 850-891-4027 or