OSU Extension’s CNEP Helps Families Increase Their Food Budget | Lifestyles
STILLWATER – Rising food prices continue to make it difficult for families with limited budgets to put healthy meals on the table, but some relief is on the way. The US Department of Agriculture recently recalculated the Thrifty Food Plan, which is used to calculate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits based on family size.
The recalculation will increase SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) benefits across the country. In Oklahoma, beneficiaries will receive approximately an additional $ 36 per person per month. A family of four will have an additional $ 140 each month to boost their food purchasing power. The increase is effective October 1.
The Oklahoma State University Extension’s Community Nutrition Education Program (CNEP) helps SNAP benefit recipients make healthy food choices and stretch their food budget to last the entire month, said Candy Gabel, coordinator of the SNAP. State of the CNEP.
The CNEP is funded by two federal programs: the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and the educational component of SNAP-Ed.
“Our Nutrition Education Assistants (NTAs) work through CNEP and SNAP-Ed with families and individuals to provide them with the knowledge and skills to prepare healthy meals and help them budget their food dollars so that they last all month, ”Gabel said. “We currently have 38 NEAs that cover 34 counties across the state.”
Kimberly Cripps, CNEP regional coordinator at the Tulsa County OSU extension office, said this was the first time the Thrifty Food plan had been updated since 1975.
“Current SNAP benefits are a maximum of $ 4 per person per day, so the additional benefits families receive will be helpful,” Cripps said. “Our NEAs work closely with their customers to teach them how to prepare healthy meals at home instead of spending money on fast food. We want to create behavior changes to help those on limited budgets enjoy healthier food options. “
Marleta Giles, NEA in Tulsa County, has worked with families for several years and is happy to hear about the increase in benefits.
“I think it will really make a difference for families. We not only want to help SNAP benefit recipients make their food money last all month, but we also encourage them to shop and cook in a healthy way, ”said Giles.
Giles helps his customers learn to read local grocery store sales ads, comparison store, make lists, plan menus, and use ingredients already in the kitchen. She said it’s important to plan menus and make shopping lists to make sure all the ingredients are on hand and to avoid going to the store several times a week.
Giles also helps his customers think outside of the traditional grocery store by taking them to the farmer’s market.
“Many families don’t necessarily think about shopping at the farmers market. Here in Tulsa, there is a program called Double Up Food Bucks where they can exchange $ 20 in SNAP dollars and get $ 40 in tokens to spend at the farmer’s market, ”she said. “The farmer’s market offers more than fruits and vegetables; they can also get fresh meat and eggs. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Lacresha Davis worked with Giles and said the information she received was helpful in helping with meal planning, shopping strategies, and meal preparation.
“Marleta really helped me improve my food choices at the store and helped me understand what healthy eating really is,” Davis said. “I learned a lot about how food is labeled. You might think you are making a healthy choice, but you are not. There are several words that really mean sugar.
Davis also said that Giles had helped her cook large, but also inexpensive meals. Growing up, she said meals should be a potato, meat, and a vegetable, but thanks to CNEP, Davis learned to cook healthier, larger, and more delicious meals.
“In one of the classes, Marleta made a dish with quinoa and vegetables. There was no meat, and I didn’t think there was a way to fill me up, ”she said. “I was surprised how good it was. In fact, I did it for my family three times that week.
Davis said she was grateful for everything she learned from CNEP and Giles.
“I am blown away by the professionalism of this program. Marleta has been very helpful to me and my family, ”she said. “My family’s eating habits have improved and I’ve learned so much.
For more information on the CNEP program, contact Gabel at [email protected] or (405) 744-9942. OSU Extension offers additional nutritional information online.