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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.

In December 2015, fifteen local, regional, and statewide agencies began working closely with Extension SNAP-Ed staff to help enact policy, system, and environmental changes. The agencies were selected through a Request for Proposal process that looked for fresh perspectives, new ideas, and practical strategies to increase access to healthy eating and active living options for people with limited financial resources.

To kick off the partnerships, representatives from the 15 agencies and SNAP-Ed staff gathered in Minneapolis to meet each other and share their visions for the year ahead.

Since then, the 15 projects have not only flourished independently, but also cross-pollinated each other. Meeting in person gave Community Partnership agencies the opportunity to collaborate with each other, not just with Extension SNAP-Ed.

With technical support from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, we have measured the progress of the projects. As of September 30, 2016, the 15 projects reported success in various categories, including:

Policy and System Changes

For example, new school wellness policies were instituted and farmers markets saw increased use of EBT machines.

Environmental Changes

For example, the number of school gardens increased in participating communities and communities saw improvements in existing community gardens.

Reach and Leverage

Community partners collectively
  • Worked with 473 additional partners to carry out project goals.
  • Reached a total of 22,110 people.
  • Leveraged over $479,379 in grants, time, and supplies.

January 31, 2017 is the official end date for these projects. However, because of the momentum created through the Community Partnerships over the past year, many of the agencies and SNAP-Ed staff are compelled to continue collaborating and carry what they’ve learned far into 2017.

The SNAP-Ed Community Partnership projects represent a fraction of Family Development’s work in the past year, but partnership is a common thread that can be an asset to all of our efforts. Moving into new work, I encourage you to consider how working collaboratively has benefited your work in the past and how it might leverage what you do in the future.

For more blog posts about these partnerships, visit Family Matters: Community Partnership Funding.

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