On Monday night, an open house was held to say farewell to Paula Berg, Chippewa County's former nutrition educator with the simply good eating program.
On Monday night, an open house was held to say farewell to Paula Berg, Chippewa County's former nutrition educator with the simply good eating program. The program, which falls under the domain of Suplimental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP-Ed), was ran by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, and funded by the federal government.
"SNAP-Ed was created as the educational end of the SNAP program. We recognized people with limited income have a tough rimte feeding themselves and their families, and we recognize a lot of people don't have the education to cook healthy food ... and to stretch a dollar doing it," said Aimee Viniard-Weideman, assistant dean for the University of Minnesota Extension. "Research shows that every dollar we spend on education saves $10 on health care
Last January, the federal government cut funding to the program as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act.
"We covered those federal cuts with other funding to buy some time," Weideman said.
Last month, a press release from the extension showed that strategy wouldn't be able to last. It reads: "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."
Previously, every county in the state had a SNAP-Ed educator. Due to the cuts, staff for SNAP-Ed was cut by 40 percent, including Paula Berg.
Weideman explained that SNAP-Ed would be moving to a new strategy to cover the state of Minneota. There will now be 45 regional educators. During first round hirings, staff were encouraged to apply, and 26 positions were filled. The remaining positions will be filled in the coming month.
In this part of the state, Jodi Gravning will be working as a regional educator, and be based out of Kandiyohi County. Anne Dybsetter, an extension educator based out of Willmar, will also be assisting with the SNAP-Ed program.