COOPERATIVE EXTENSION EVOLVES
Cooperative Extension has been working to advance personal health since its inception. The foci of early programs ranged from safely preserving food and basic sanitation to ensuring water quality for the large number of rural residents who obtained their drinking water from private wells.
Over time, the scope of health-related programming by Cooperative Extension diversified, and its audience expanded. For example, Cooperative Extension’s work to promote the adoption of healthy eating guidelines
such as the Daily Food Guide (1956), My Pyramid (1992), and My Plate (2011) was designed to reach into both suburban and urban neighborhoods. In 1969, Extension became responsible for delivering the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program (EFNEP) that has helped low-income families and youth achieve
Extension Nutrition Education & SNAP-Ed
nutritional security wherever they may reside. More recently, Cooperative Extension has become the nation’s largest provider of nutrition education for individuals and families eligible to receive food assistance benefits by serving as an implementing agency for a program called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education (SNAP-Ed) (Yetter and Tripp, 2020).
Expansion of Health Programming
Beyond nutrition education, Cooperative Extension’s portfolio of health -related work has evolved to include efforts related to agricultural safety, physical activity, chronic disease prevention and management, mental health, cardiovascular health, substance misuse prevention, stress management, food security, water quality, skin cancer prevention, radon education, immunization education, and healthy aging. Today, Cooperative Extension is actively engaged in addressing issues related to environmental health, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and the health impacts stemming from the interactions between humans and animals. However, until recently, these activities were not considered or undertaken under a unified banner of “health”. As a result, the magnitude of Cooperative Extension’s work in health is often understated, undervalued, or unnoticed.
“Cooperative Extension has been working to advance personal health since its inception. The foci of early programs ranged from safely preserving food and basic sanitation to ensuring water quality for the large number of rural residents who obtained their drinking water from private wells.”
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