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UMN Extension announces restructuring of statewide nutrition education program

November 18, 2013

Today, University of Minnesota Extension announced a restructuring of the federally funded SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education) for low-income audiences. The restructuring is made necessary by a significant cut in the program’s federal funding. Minnesota, like all states, received an unexpected 28 percent cut in SNAP-Ed funding in January through the American Taxpayer Relief Act.

Federal funding cuts imposed by the American Taxpayer Relief Act have not been restored and the future of federal funding under the Farm Bill has not yet been resolved. Due to the loss in federal funds, Extension must now restructure the SNAP-Ed program to reduce the number of nutrition education staff to match current federal funding levels.

"Because of the importance of nutrition education to low-income Minnesotans, we did not make immediate cuts in the program," said Bev Durgan, University of Minnesota Extension Dean. "Since January, we have been working with our federal partners to try to restore the federal funding, while covering the cuts with significant cost saving measures and non-federal funds."

To ensure that Extension continues to deliver statewide nutrition education to eligible families, while operating with reduced federal funding, Extension will:

  • Create a regional SNAP-Ed program using Extension’s regional delivery model. Nutrition staff will cover multiple county regions. Counties may choose to contract with Extension for additional county-specific services as they do now for 4-H program coordinators and county agriculture educators.
  • Identify multi-county service areas based on income-eligible populations and free-lunch eligible schools.
  • Staff the new regional system with 40 percent fewer positions.

The restructuring was announced to Extension nutrition staff this afternoon. New regional positions have been posted on the University’s employment website. Extension nutrition staff are being encouraged to apply during an internal hiring process that will be completed by mid-December. At that time, nutrition staff who did not apply or were not offered a regional position, will receive layoff notices effective mid-January.

The new regional SNAP-Ed educators will be in their new positions in early 2014. They will then work with local community partners to determine educational programs and delivery methods based on income-eligible participants in the counties.

"Extension will continue to provide nutrition education to low-income families, but we will have fewer nutrition educators to reach the same number of participants," Durgan said. "We have a proven track record of success with Extension’s regional delivery model, which we will rely on as we work closely with our local and state partners to deliver nutrition education to low income families in new ways."

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