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.
Two key federal partners are the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). FNS determines national policies and procedures, provides program monitoring and administrative oversight, facilitates resource sharing, and delivers technical assistance. NIFA facilitates communication among federal, state, and local partners, and provides programmatic leadership to cooperative extension/land-grant university program implementers for effective nutrition education and obesity prevention interventions through the land-grant system in conjunction with other implementing agencies and organizations. A third federal partner, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), supports nutrition education through its research and evaluation studies.
This website reflects the work of SNAP-Ed through the Land-Grant University System, in cooperation with NIFA and other program implementers. For specific information about SNAP-Ed, as a whole, see:
State agencies that choose to conduct nutrition education/obesity prevention through their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (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. Land-grant universities are a primary implementer of SNAP-Ed. Land-grant universities 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 Land-Grant University 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, formerly known as the Family Nutrition Program and Food Stamp Nutrition Education, began in 1988 when 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 thousand 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 has occurred mainly through the Land-Grant University System, primarily through affiliated state Cooperative Extension Systems (CES), and to a lesser degree through nutrition departments. By 2004, land-grant colleges and universities 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.
NIFA's involvement with SNAP-Ed began in 1999, as land-grant university administrators identified the need for national leadership through their federal partner. NIFA supports SNAP-Ed by providing leadership, establishing collaborative relationships, and strengthening communication among federal, state, and local partners. Specifically, it 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.
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.
For more specifics on current program guidance, see the SNAP-Ed website.
SNAP-Ed's effectiveness stems largely from its community-based orientation. Land-grant institutions work 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.
These associated web pages are primarily for administrators of SNAP-Ed programs and networks hosted by the Land-Grant University System and the Association of SNAP-Ed Nutrition Networks and Other Implementing Agencies (ASNNA). Other SNAP-Ed implementing agencies/organizations and non-affiliated professionals involved in other education programs for low-income audiences may also find the information of value. The web pages: facilitate communication between state, regional, and national staff within the Land-Grant University System and among ASNNA members; enhance program design, implementation, and evaluation of SNAP-Ed; support staff development and training; strengthen the link between research and practice; provide access to reports produced by NIFA/Extension/land-grant universities and ASNNA; give timely updates on SNAP-Ed-related issues; and, share proceedings from conferences and meetings involving NIFA and land-grant university SNAP-Ed representatives.
*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 1 October 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.