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U of M Extension cuts nutrition education program by 40 percent

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University of Minnesota Extension has made cuts of more than 40 percent in a nutrition education program aimed at helping food stamp recipients.

This month's cuts came after the federal funding that supports the program was trimmed. The Mankato Free Press reports the number of educators was reduced from 109 to 45 in this month's cuts.

Defenders of the education program consider the cuts counterproductive. An assistant dean with the Extension service tells the Free Press a study found that for every dollar spent on education, ten dollars is saved on health care costs related to diabetes and obesity.

While some in Congress have doubted the effectiveness of the program, Amiee Viniard-Weideman also tells the newspaper research nationally and in Minnesota has shown that among those who take the classes fruit and vegetable consumption is up and sugar and soda pop consumption is down.

The Minnesota Daily reports the impact of the cuts will be strongest in rural areas. The university's newspaper says a federal funding formula for Extension programs requires that areas with more population receive more funding.

U of M Extension announced last fall that the cuts would be coming. The Daily says federal cuts to the program came a year ago but Extension officials avoided layoffs until this month.

There's more on U of M Extension health and nutrition programs here.

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