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SNAP-Ed ROI is 10 to 1: Time to promote nutrition education!

get the facsIf you could make an investment that yielded a 10 to 1 return on investment, wouldn’t you do it? Consider also that investment makes people smarter, healthier and improves the local quality of life.

It seems like a no-brainer yet, the University of Minnesota recently announced major cuts to their SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Education Program); they will lose 67 of their 152 employees.

The University in cutting their program because of drastic reductions to federal funding. The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently reported…

After the cutbacks, 45 educators will be left to cover the state’s 87 counties.

“What it means is that we have [fewer] people to serve the needs of the state,” Durgan said. “That will be our challenge.”

The staff works with some 63,000 low-income people, at programs throughout the state, to teach them how to stretch their food budgets and make healthful choices, Durgan said. She noted that research shows the program saves $10 in long-term health care costs for every $1 spent on nutrition education.

In January, however, the federal government cut the SNAP grants nationwide by 28 percent, which cut the U program’s budget from $8.7 million to $6.3 million, Durgan said. University officials tried to make up for the shortfall by reducing expenses, including supplies, travel, meetings and administration, she said. Then, in October, the federal grant was cut by another 10 percent.

It seems like a very short sighted decision. One that will leave low-income families in the dark about health and nutrition. Eventually costing tax payers in health care fees, but more importantly leaving low-income children at a greater disadvantage and robbing the community of full, optimal participation of students. Because as we know in the field, a healthy body prepares a mind ready to learn.

Family and Consumer Science (FACS) in the schools might be a way to reach families with older kids but without the introduction to nutrition, low-income students will be at a disadvantage.

Learning ZoneXpress created materials to promote FACS – such as Get the FACS: Promoting FACS Guide. We encourage folks in the field to check it out and to consider utilizing the techniques discussed to promote FACS in your own community. Here’s a brief excerpt from the book…

This guides shares the secrets to that success and gives you ideas that have worked in creating a program that one school district cannot live without.

· In order to promote Family & Consumer Sciences you need the support of your faculty and administrators. Get involved in cross-curricular projects when the opportunity arises.
· You need activities that sell your program, activities that the students can’t wait to be a part of.
· You need to make contributions to your community. Many of the ideas here are ones that no other class can pull off. When parents and the community love you, what more can you ask for!
· Last, you need to have the total backing of your students. After all, they do a lot of promoting without even knowing it. When you hear comments like “I waited the whole day for this class” and “why can’t we have this class all year long?” then you know you are doing it right!

We commend the SNAP-Ed communities to look at the recommendations in see how they might be used to help support their programs as well. And as a community that promotes nutrition education – we all must find a way to get practitioners, policymakers and the general public to understand the importance of nutrition education program. With a 10 to 1 rate of return, money spent in nutrition education is not a cost it’s an investment. An investment we can’t afford to pass up!

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