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Showing posts from January, 2017

New Graduate Assistant Joins CYFC to Work on Lessons from the Field

Jenifer McGuire, Extension Specialist and Associate Professor — Family Social Science

Jessica Koolick has joined Children, Youth & Family Consortium as a graduate research assistant working with me on the Lessons from the Field: Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth educational series. Before joining Extension, Jessica worked on the Early Bridges literacy project through the U of M Center for Early Education and Development.

Jessica received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Michigan, with a minor in LGBTQ and sexuality studies. She is currently a graduate student in the School Psychology Program in the U of M College of Education and Human Development.

Jessica’s areas of focus are autism spectrum disorders, supporting transgender and gender nonconforming students in schools, promoting student success in schools, and special education. Please welcome Jessica to the CYFC team!

Who Provides SNAP-Ed in Minnesota?

By Ryan Johnson, Associate Program Director — Health and Nutrition​

In a recent blog post, I talked about the differences between the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed). SNAP-Ed helps people with limited financial resources make healthy food choices and be more physically active. The eight SNAP-Ed implementing agencies in Minnesota are the seven Anishinaabe Tribes (Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, Red Lake, and White Earth) and the University of Minnesota Extension.

Regional Community Discussions on Transgender Issues Begin

Children, Youth & Family Consortium Staff

On Tuesday, January 24, the University of Minnesota Extension Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) held the first in a series of professional development events focused on transgender youth.

At this inaugural event of the 2017 Lessons from the Field series, titled Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth, 48 participants came together at the Extension Andover Regional Office. Attendees represented a cross-section of community, including professionals working at Extension as well as at schools, libraries, and social service agencies. Those in attendance got to hear from three experts in their fields as well as engage in small group discussions around professional practices and empathy building.

Extension SNAP-Ed Program Shines during Federal Management Evaluation

By Mary Marczak, Director, Urban Family Development and Evaluation, and Patricia Olson, Director of Programs

It’s official: We are awesome!

Well…the actual description in the written summary of the Federal Management Evaluation (ME) review of Family Development’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) is more reserved, yet positive:
During the ME, several noteworthy initiatives were observed. These noteworthy initiatives included the number and reach of community partnerships, ethnic diversity of nutrition educators and program materials, and Tribal Organization engagement model. The review resulted in no findings needing corrective action.
We still say: That's awesome!

We heard so many enthusiastic comments from the two federal reviewers who spent three days in Minnesota this December. They reviewed Minnesota’s overall SNAP-Ed program, including Minnesota Department of Human Services, the state agency that administers the program, and University of Minn…

The Power of Partnership: SNAP-Ed Community Partnerships

By Jackie Billhymer, Project Coordinator — Health and Nutrition

SNAP Education and Outreach Month falls at the beginning of a new year when we in Family Development aspire to approach our work with fresh perspective and integrate new ideas in 2017. As we launch forward, it is helpful to also reflect on the accomplishments and teachings garnered through partnerships and teamwork in the last year, and use these experiences to inform future work.

January marks not only Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Education and Outreach Month, but also the end of University of Minnesota Extension’s statewide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Community Partnership projects [archived webpage]. Over the last year, these projects have demonstrated just how much is possible to achieve when working together.

Minnesota Schools Lead with Smarter Lunchrooms

Media contact: Heidi Kessler, Executive Director, Smarter Lunchrooms National Office, Cornell University, 607-255-7822,

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (1/24/2017) — Rainbow Dragon Salad and Curried Chicken Bowl with Pickled Pineapple are on the menu at Minneapolis Public Schools this month. These fun menu descriptions are one example of simple, effective, strategies designed to help improve student health that are popping up in lunchrooms all over Minnesota thanks to the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement.

Smarter Lunchrooms Movement use research-based techniques to set up the lunchroom in a way that makes the healthiest options so appealing, so attractive, and so convenient, that they are nearly impossible to pass up. The result is well-fueled students that are ready to grow, play, and learn. The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, founded in 2009 at Cornell University has received funding from the USDA since 2010.

CYFC Welcomes New Graduate Research Assistant

By Judy Myers, Extension Educator — Children, Youth & Family Consortium

Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) is pleased to welcome Kyla Flaten as our new graduate research assistant. Kyla is currently a graduate student in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and the School of Social Work with an anticipated completion date in May 2018.

Kyla is a graduate of Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. While in college, she spent time in Bryon Bay, Australia, in the School for International Training, where she concentrated on sustainability and environmental action.

Kyla began work January 19 and will be largely involved with CYFC’s partnership work with Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul. In that role she will analyze data to evaluate performance, help maintain community alliances related to the school, and help keep the CYFC staff organized. Having worked with Kyla when she was a student assistant in Youth Development, I know that she will be a strong ass…

SNAP and SNAP-Ed: What’s the Difference?

By Ryan Johnson, Associate Program Director — Health and Nutrition

As we celebrate SNAP Education and Outreach Month, here are a few things you might not know about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed).
SNAP benefits help Minnesotans with limited financial resources buy food for well-balanced meals. SNAP-Ed helps these same people make healthy food choices and become more physically active.SNAP is administered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), with case management done by county human services offices. SNAP-Ed is implemented by University of Minnesota Extension and the seven Anishinaabe Tribes (Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, Red Lake, and White Earth). Both SNAP and SNAP-Ed are federally funded by the United States Department of Agriculture through legislation commonly referred to as “the Farm Bill.”

A New Year, a New Perspective: Thinking Like a Network

By Jamie Bain, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

I feel a sense of urgency for the work we in Family Development engage in. Minnesota in particular is in the national spotlight for our problems with disparities in health and wealth. Research, research, and more research shows how we are a state of beauty and plenty, but only for those of us who live in certain zip codes, have certain backgrounds, and enjoy certain privileges. Until all Minnesotans share equally in health and wealth, those of us on the comfortable side of Minnesota’s many gaps cannot rest.

And we cannot work alone. As the problems in our society become more complex and “wicked,” I believe it is important to embrace a network mindset in our work of closing disparities.

January Is SNAP Education and Outreach Month

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate — Health and Nutrition​

Our New Year's resolution to make the healthy choice the easy choice for Minnesotans just got a boost: Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed January Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Education and Outreach Month.

SNAP helps Minnesotans with low incomes buy food for well-balanced meals. And SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed) helps make the healthy choice the easy choice for those Minnesotans.

Cold Weather Doesn’t Keep People from Food Access Summit

By Serdar Mamedov, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition, and Suzanne Driessen, Extension Educator — Food Safety

Despite the very cold weather (16 degrees below zero) and long travel time for some, the 2016 Central Minnesota Food Access Summit on December 15 at Central Lake College in Staples, MN brought together over 80 people with food-related professions and interests from throughout the region.

The summit was a forum for wide-ranging conversations about access to healthy food in Central Minnesota. Attendees learned about resources to support a healthier and more affordable food system in their local communities. It was amazing to see a broad representation of different community sectors, including farming, food production and distribution, public health, agriculture research, and many others. Residents from communities and tribal nations also attended. Here are some highlights from the summit.