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Aligning and Elevating University-Based Low-Income Nutrition Education

The nation's Land-Grant University Cooperative Extension System (LGU-CES) is committed to ensuring that low-income populations have a safe, affordable, and healthy food supply. Two low-income nutrition education programs that are core to this commitment are the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), which are funded by United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), respectively. Leadership from the CES Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) requested the assistance of NIFA to facilitate improved alignment and visibility of EFNEP and SNAP-Ed within the LGU-CES, given the importance of both programs to their organizational mission and the health needs of the country's low-income populations.

NIFA’s Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition issued a special project competitive award to develop recommendations for system-wide alignment of these programs by: 1) hosting a meeting with senior agency and organizational leadership in Washington DC; 2) conducting an environmental scan of EFNEP and SNAP-Ed coordinators; and 3) assembling a working group of LGU-CES experts to inform the recommendations. The University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources received the award and convened an expert working group with regional and programmatic diversity to participate in the national meeting and help develop the scan and recommendations. The meeting of federal officials and university representatives took place in Washington DC in April 2013. Shared visions and potential strategies for aligning program quality and effectiveness were discussed.

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