This month, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) celebrates 30 years of providing evidence-based nutrition education and obesity prevention interventions and projects for those eligible for SNAP benefits. Through complementary direct education, multi-level interventions, and community and public health approaches to improve nutritional health of historically underserved populations, this federally funded grant program has impacted lives for three decades.
SNAP-Ed is administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) coordinates nutrition security efforts with FNS and supports SNAP-Ed efforts through its partnership with Cooperative Extension within the Land-grant University (LGU) system. Cooperative Extension was at the forefront of implementing SNAP-Ed. Formerly known as the Family Nutrition Program and Food Stamp Nutrition Education, SNAP-Ed was piloted by a local Extension office in 1988. In 1992, the first seven states conducted SNAP-Ed programs – all through their LGUs. Since then, efforts by LGUs and other implementing agencies has multiplied manyfold. SNAP-Ed is now available in all states and most U.S. territories
USDA NIFA is proud to recognize 30 years of SNAP-Ed programming and to acknowledge the hard work of Extension educators throughout the LGU system who are making a difference in their communities. Some recent program successes include:
- Last year, SNAP-Ed educators in Alabama provided Body Quest, a comprehensive obesity prevention initiative, to more than 7,000 third-graders. As a result, students increased their consumption of vegetables, fruits and water, and drank fewer sugary beverages.
- When the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person programs, SNAP-Ed educators shifted their efforts into the virtual arena. In Maryland, SNAP-Ed created a cache of virtual resources to complement their youth curricula for use in the virtual learning environment.
- The collaborative, multi-state “Growing Together” project, led by Iowa State University, operates at eight LGUs including University of Illinois, Purdue University in Indiana, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, Montana State University, University of Nebraska, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Wyoming. “Growing Together” increases access to fruits and vegetables in food pantries through building and maintaining a network of community donation gardens. In 2021, the "Growing Together" projects collectively deployed 517 Master Gardener volunteers and 1,902 other community volunteers to cultivate more than 239,000 pounds of fresh produce that was distributed to 336 food distribution and nutrition education sites, reaching an estimated 126,593 clients.