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U of M Extension to cut nearly 70 SNAP educators

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The University of Minnesota is cutting 67 educators from a program that teaches low-income Minnesotans about healthy eating and nutrition.

The Star Tribune reports the cuts make up 40 percent of the staff in the Supplemental Nutrition Education Program.

In its announcement on Monday the University of Minnesota said the cuts are required after a significant reduction in the program's federal funding. The university said, Minnesota, like all states, received an unexpected 28 percent cut in SNAP-Ed funding in January through the American Taxpayer Relief Act.

The organization announced the restructuring to nutrition staff on Monday afternoon.

The program has nutrition educators in nearly every county in Minnesota. Those educators work in schools, at food shelves and senior citizen centers. After the cuts 45 educators will be left to cover the state's 87 counties.

MPR News reports the program saw its funding drop from $8.7 million to $6.3 million. University of Minnesota Extension Dean Bev Durgan said the university was able to cover the gap with cost saving measures and other funds, which she says is no longer possible.

Because of the cuts the program will now focus most on areas where there are the largest number of food stamp recipients. The staff will now cover multiple county regions those counties may choose to contract with Extension for additional county-specific services.

All of the state's 104 nutrition educators will be able to apply for the remaining jobs. The new regional SNAP-Ed educators will be in their new positions in early 2014.

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