Food $ense Nutrition Education Program


What is the Food $ense Nutrition Education Program (also known as SNAP-Ed)?

Even the United States as the wealthiest nation in the world is home to many families who wonder where their next meal is coming from or how their food is going get their family through the entire month. The Food $ense Nutrition Education program aims to help those low-income families budget properly and get the best nutrition out of what they can afford.

Food $ense falls under the general jurisdiction of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA directly governs the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) under which the Food Stamp Program (FSP) is run. The FSP is now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  SNAP is run locally through the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) which also runs Food $ense. States are required to submit a yearly plan to FNS for approval; the state’s plan includes the program’s budget and intended activities for the upcoming year. 

Food $ense’s funding comes from two major sources: The FNS and land-grant universities. FNS will reimburse the program for 50% of the “reasonable and necessary” expenses for nutrition education; the rest of the funding comes from matching money through the land-grant universities. The FNS will provide guidance to those states who encourage the most efficient tools and strategies in nutrition education.

In 1992, Food $ense received its first funding which was utilized by seven states to promote nutrition to food stamp participants and eligibles. By 2003, 49 states were participating and aiding thousands of individuals and families. Although mothers and children are those primarily targeted by Food $ense, the program also caters to the elderly, those with developmental disabilities, and youth.

The aim of Food $ense is to provide education to food stamp recipients and/or food stamp eligibles to promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle. The need for the program is evident with the overall increase in diabetes in the United States, particularly among those individuals from low-income backgrounds who have a higher propensity for diabetes because of the poor nutrition associated with low income. In fact, 2/3 of food stamp participating households have health problems related to sodium consumption and being overweight.