Dr. Mira Mehta serves as Director of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland. The primary focus of her programming is to develop, implement and evaluate intervention programs for food insecure, immigrant, refugee, and diverse communities at high risk for Type 2 diabetes and other diet-related non-communicable chronic disorders. Her research interests lie in obesity and Type 2 diabetes in populations that disproportionately bear the double burden of hunger and adiposity; and health disparities resulting from gender and race/ethnicity. In 2015-16, she was PI of the Transforming Lifestyles: Integrating Direct Nutrition Education with Physical Activity Using the Health Care System Expansion Model” through an award by the federally funded North-east Regional Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Centers of Excellence (RNECE) at Cornell University, funded by USDA/NIFA. She is currently working on a comprehensive project in Gujarat, India, to address ‘the double burden of undernutrition (stunting) and overweight /obesity using a policy, systems, and environment approach. She received her MS and Ph.D. degrees in International Nutrition from Cornell University and a BS in Human Nutrition from M.S. University, India.

Mira Mehta

Mira Mehta, PhD








Dr. Kavitha Sankavaram is responsible for evaluating, reporting, and program coordination of special initiatives of Maryland EFNEP. She is passionate about working with low-income people, reducing domestic food-insecurity, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Her research interests are focused on finding sustainable solutions to the nutrition and lifestyle factors that drive the double burden of food insecurity and obesity.  She received her Doctoral degree from the University of Connecticut and MS from Oklahoma State University in Human Nutrition. 


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Kavitha Sankavaram, PhD    

Faculty Specialist

EFNEP  Outreach & Evaluation 




Ms. Marlene L. Orantes is Maryland EFNEP’s Clinic Program Outreach and Partnership Coordinator. She is a healthcare professional with experience as Program Director, health educator, and nutrition educator in various non-profit organizations in Washington DC and Maryland. Marlene has adapted numerous nutrition curricula for those with Diabetes Type 2, hypertension overweight, and obesity; recent adaptations include “Nutrition for Pregnant and Nursing Women.” Marlene Orantes received her degree in Medicine from the Evangelical University of El Salvador. She worked thereafter for the Salvadorian Public Health System and Social Security Health System as Medical Director and Healthcare Provider.  In 2009, Maryland EFNEP offered Marlene the opportunity to increase her focus on prevention in the community setting while collaborating with other EFNEP professionals and community partners. She used her medical training and public health experience in safety-net clinics to create a unique and novel model of collaboration between EFNEP and safety-net clinics. Since 2013, this model has led to many new initiatives including “Transforming Lifestyles: Integrating Direct Nutrition Education with Physical Activity Using the Health Care System Expansion Model.” She has trained many new nutrition educators to teach using this clinic collaboration model which has enabled Maryland EFNEP to demonstrate, not only behavior change outcomes but also health outcomes. Marlene remains deeply committed to developing and delivering programs for food-insecure families and provides leadership for Maryland EFNEP’s Latinx Initiatives and Montgomery County

Marlene Orantes Photo

Marlene Orantes

EFNEP  Program Outreach & Partnership Coordinator for Latinx Communities


(301) 590-3203