The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed)* is a federally funded grant program that supports evidence-based nutrition education and obesity prevention interventions and projects for persons eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through complementary direct education, multi-level interventions, and community and public health approaches to improve nutrition.
For information on SNAP-Ed administration, see the following USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) websites. FNS determines national policies and procedures, provides program monitoring and administrative oversight, facilitates resource sharing, and delivers technical assistance for SNAP-Ed.
The following information reflects the work of NIFA and its partners in support of SNAP-Ed.
- NIFA’s History and Role with SNAP-Ed
- Resources Developed through Collaborative Efforts
- Growth of SNAP-Ed through the Land-grant University System
- SNAP-Ed and the Land-grant University System Today
- LGU SNAP-Ed Program Development Team
- National Reports
NIFA’s History and Role with SNAP-Ed
USDA NIFA has a long history of working closely with federal agencies, Land-grant Universities (LGUs) and others in facilitating the success of SNAP-Ed as part of a larger commitment to enhance nutrition security through nutrition education to low-income populations. In 1999, Cooperative Extension directors and administrators from LGUs requested leadership support from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), NIFA’s predecessor and their federal partner. Since then, NIFA has had a pivotal role in facilitating relationships and strengthening communication among federal, state and local partners for SNAP-Ed and other food assistance and nutrition education/obesity prevention programs.
Through its oversight of EFNEP, NIFA facilitates cooperation and collaboration between EFNEP and SNAP-Ed at state and local levels, which expands the reach of low-income nutrition education, and improves training and resource efficiencies. NIFA also has an ex officio leadership role on the LGU SNAP-Ed Program Development Team to improve complementary multi-level nutrition security interventions systemwide through the LGU System. NIFA promotes well-trained staff; effective program planning, management and reporting; identification and use of effective and appropriate resources; and improved consistency and clarity of communication among SNAP-Ed's many partners.
Resources Developed Through Collaborative Efforts
- Core Competencies - EFNEP & SNAP-Ed, updated 2021
- Regional Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Centers of Excellence (RNECE) | National Institute of Food and Agriculture (usda.gov), 2019
- Best Practices in Nutrition Education for Low-Income Audiences, 2018
- Community Nutrition Education (CNE) Logic Model, updated 2018
- Aligning and Elevating University-Based Low-Income Nutrition Education, 2014.
Growth of SNAP-Ed Through the Land-grant University System
The Food Stamp Act of 1977 laid the groundwork for SNAP-Ed through a cooperative program called Food Stamp Nutrition Education. In 1988, Cooperative Extension faculty in Brown County, Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin Extension staff discovered that by committing state and local funding and contracting with the state SNAP agency, an equal amount of federal dollars could be secured to expand the reach of nutrition education to low-income persons in that area. Other universities soon followed. In 1992, seven states conducted SNAP-Ed using $661,000 in federal funds. By 2004, SNAP-Ed was conducted throughout the country using nearly $460 million, with $228.6 million in SNAP administration funds and the remainder contributed by the states.
Growth of SNAP-Ed occurred rapidly through the LGU System, primarily through affiliated state Cooperative Extension Systems, and to a lesser degree through nutrition departments. By 2004, LGUs were conducting SNAP-Ed in all 50 states either independently or in cooperation with other contractors, and accounted for the majority of state and local financial support of SNAP-Ed.
Major changes to SNAP-Ed came about with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. SNAP-Ed was transformed into a formula-funded nutrition education and obesity prevention grants program. Increased emphasis was given to the use of evidence-based projects and interventions. Program implementers were also encouraged to utilize a more “balanced” intervention approach with program partners and eligible participants, including:
- Individual or group-based direct nutrition education, health promotion and intervention strategies;
- Comprehensive, multi-level interventions at multiple complementary organizational and institutional levels; and
- Community and public health approaches to improve nutrition – with increased emphasis of policies, systems and environmental change to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
SNAP-Ed and the Land-grant University System Today
State agencies that choose to conduct nutrition education/obesity prevention through SNAP can receive formula-based funding by meeting SNAP-Ed guidance requirements. Typically, such agencies contract with public and private SNAP-Ed implementing agencies and organizations. LGUs are a primary implementer of SNAP-Ed and coordinate efforts with other implementing agencies, such as state public health departments, food banks, tribal programs, local health organizations and certain non-profit organizations.
The goal of SNAP-Ed through the LGU System is to provide educational programs, messaging, and policy, systems, and environmental interventions through community/public health approaches to increase the likelihood that people eligible for SNAP will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Food Guidance System (MyPlate.gov).
SNAP-Ed's effectiveness stems largely from its community-based orientation. Cooperative Extension’s placement within communities and within the LGU System, along with its informal national network reaching most of the nation’s 3,000 counties insular areas and the District of Columbia, makes it a natural fit for conducting SNAP-Ed. Cooperative Extension works closely with state and local public and private entities to strategically deliver SNAP-Ed using methods and locations that are most favorable to SNAP-eligible populations. Local offices that administer SNAP are key referrals and SNAP-Ed delivery sites. Myriad other state and local partners support university efforts by contributing a wide range of assistance and resources, such as participant referrals, team teaching, meeting space, child care and transportation, food demonstration supplies, equipment, and cash for supplementary resources. More recent actions include cooperation and collaboration to support policy, system and environmental changes that make healthier food and physical activity choices the easy choice for SNAP-Ed eligible populations.
For more information about SNAP-Ed through Cooperative Extension within the LGU System, see:
- Nourishing Communities: Nutrition Education That Works (extension.org) – Shows impact of SNAP-Ed programming through Cooperative Extension within the LGU System for stakeholders.
- SNAP-Ed Resources (extension.org) – Includes resources for those who are developing or refining their SNAP-Ed program and to help program implementors understand SNAP-Ed’s history and impacts within the context of Cooperative Extension and the LGU system.
LGU SNAP-Ed Program Development Team
The LGU SNAP-Ed Program Development Team is comprised of administrators, faculty, coordinators and other state-level staff from 1862 and 1890 institutions. Diversity is embraced in drawing upon the unique experiences, skills, backgrounds, responsibilities, thinking and operating styles of team members and the respective institutions and regions of the country that they represent.
Team members volunteer time and effort to foster communication and understanding of SNAP-Ed programming among federal and state/university organizational systems; provide leadership to professional/staff development and program planning, management, reporting, and evaluation; and identify linkages that can be forged to support the LGU System’s broader outreach, education, and research mission and cooperation with other partners. Potential members are recommended by their peers and supervisors. Members serve three-year, staggered terms. They reflect a balance in terms of program size, geographic location and institutional affiliation.
The following national reports, developed by the LGU System in conjunction with NIFA, provide understanding of the national and regional dimensions of SNAP-Ed, as conducted through the LGUs.
- 2019 – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Final Report
- 2019 – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Infographic
- 2016 – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Executive Summary
- 2016 – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Final Report
- 2010 – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) through the Land-Grant University System Report
- 2005 – Food Stamp Nutrition Education (FSNE)* Through the Land-Grant University/Cooperative Extension System Report
- 2003 – Food Stamp Nutrition Education (FSNE)* in the 1890 Community Report
- 2002 – Food Stamp Nutrition Education (FSNE)* within the Cooperative Extension/Land-Grant University System Report
*Note: language in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 resulted in a name change of the Federal Food Stamp Program to the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on October 1, 2008. Documents on this site that were developed prior to this change contain the original language (Food Stamp Nutrition Education, or FSNE) used in this partnership.