State Patches Hole In Nutrition Funding Left By Fiscal Cliff Deal
More federal budget cuts loom in the form of sequestration. But local anti-obesity programs are only now discovering how they fared in the last round of cuts – January's fiscal cliff deal.
Federal lawmakers cut more than $100 million from SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) in that deal. The program aims to help food stamp recipients develop healthy eating habits.
Here in San Diego, that money is funneled into the county's anti-obesity work. It's also used by the Network for a Healthy California for local nutrition campaigns geared toward African-American and Latino families, who are more at risk of being overweight or obese.
Matthew Marsom is vice president of the Public Health Institute, which helps manage the Network for a Healthy California.
"SNAP Education is a significant investment for all Americans," Marsom said. "Today, we are faced with increasing rise of chronic disease that is undermining the strength of our economy. This is a problem for everybody."
California lost about $40 million in SNAP-Ed funding. But Michael Weston, a spokesman for the California Department of Social Services, said the state has found $36 million in one-time funds to fill the gap this year. Those dollars come from a 2011 grant the federal government recently disbursed to the state.
The money pays for things like healthy soul food cookbooks and outreach in grocery stores, schools and churches.
SNAP benefits, known as CalFresh or food stamps, were not affected by the fiscal cliff deal and are exempt from sequestration.