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History and Overview of SNAP and FNP

The objective of the Family Nutrition Program is to help SNAP participants and eligibles acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes and changed behavior necessary for maximizing limited resources to achieve nutritionally sound diets consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate.

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), administers the nutrition assistance programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The mission of FNS is to provide children and needy families with better access to food and a more healthful diet through its food assistance programs and comprehensive nutrition education efforts. The agency was established Aug. 8, 1969, but many of the food programs originated long before FNS existed as a separate agency.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program), now the cornerstone of USDA's nutrition assistance, began in its modern form in 1961, but it had its origins in the Food Stamp Plan to help the needy in the 1930's. The National School Lunch Program also has its roots in  Depression-era efforts to help low-income children. The Needy Family Program, which has evolved into the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), was the primary means of food assistance during the Great Depression. FNS works in partnership with the States in all its programs. States determine most administrative  details regarding distribution of food benefits and eligibility of participants and FNS provides funding to cover most of the States' administrative costs.

The North Dakota State University Extension Service Family Nutrition Program (FNP) is funded by the USDA’s Mountain Plains Region Food and Nutrition Service to conduct the state’s SNAP-Ed efforts. In North Dakota, FNP is a partnership between the North Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) and the NDSU Extension Service working to provide nutrition education to families and individuals participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). FNP began in North Dakota in the winter of 1994-1995.

Nutrition Ed - Pizza Days

The delivery of educational programs at the local level is done by Extension Agents or by Nutrition Education Assistants. Positions are funded based on the population percentage of SNAP participants and the overall  number of SNAP-participants and SNAP-eligibles in County areas. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010, enacted December 13, 2010, capped federal funding for SNAP-Ed and established the Nutrition  Education and Obesity Prevention (NEOP) grant program . It fundamentally changed the SNAP-Ed funding  structure from a cost-sharing program requiring State match to a competitive grant program with 100% Federal  funding. Annually, each State receives a grant allocation for SNAP-Ed based on State-reported SNAP participation data. The primary sponsor (DHS) is the direct source of funds for the state and chooses how to distribute the allocation. In North Dakota, the Family Nutrition Program receives the full allocation for SNAP-Ed activities. Aside from the restructuring funding, previous guidance about eligible audiences and allowable activities for the grant funds remains relatively unchanged. 

FNP targets SNAP participants and eligibles; delivers direct education in group sessions, targeted public service
announcements, basic food and nutrition demonstrations, newsletters, displays, and fact sheets. Direct education is the primary focus of FNP efforts and is tailored to meet local needs. FNP differs from the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) primarily in that EFNEP specifically targets low-income families with young children, enrolls program participants, intensively instructs enrolled participants over a period of time, and  graduates participants who complete a series of lessons.

A participant in the FNP program can expect to learn how to:

  • Apply the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) and USDA’s MyPlate to their everyday lives.

  • Use food shopping strategies to cut costs.

  • Gain knowledge and skills in food selection and preparation.

  • Use safe food handling, storage and preparation practices.

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