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Dean's Column (January 17, 2013)

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Dear Colleagues,

In early January, the House, Senate and President Obama passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 to avert the fiscal cliff. The legislation has significant implications for SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) in Minnesota and nationwide.

The legislation calls for a 28% reduction in federal funding for SNAP-Ed in FY 2013. This is a significant and unexpected cut. Because of the importance of this program to low-income Minnesotans, we will make short-term financial reallocations within Extension to prevent immediate cuts in the program. While this is not a long-term solution, it creates time for us to work with our federal legislators to try to get funding restored for FY 2014 and to work with other potential funders and partners.

Yesterday, Minnesota Public Radio ran a story on SNAP-Ed and the funding announcement. If you didn't hear it, you can listen, read an article and see photos on the MPR website.  

As reported in the news story, community nutrition educators (CNEs) are funded through the federal SNAP-Ed grant that comes from USDA through the Minnesota Department of Human Services to Extension. The nutrition program is delivered in partnership with Minnesota counties, providing county offices and support for Extension's CNEs.

This program reaches underserved audiences across Minnesota with important health and nutrition information. Last year, over 30% of participants in our SNAP-Ed childhood obesity programs were from communities of color. Across our general nutrition education workshops, classes and hands-on demonstrations, over 60% of participants report changing their diet to be more healthy. And, more than three-quarters of graduates of one of our key learn-to-cook-at-home programs reported eating more vegetables and fruits, and all of them reported making a recipe they learned in the program at home.

We will be working closely with our partners over the coming months to address this funding reduction so that we can continue to offer this important program throughout Minnesota.

Bev Durgan

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