By John Toole
---- — New Hampshire will put nearly $1 million into educating food stamp recipients about nutrition over the next year.
Gov. John Lynch and the Executive Council recently approved a one-year agreement with the University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension Service to provide the service.
The program is fully funded by the federal government.
“It’s not new and it’s not state dollars,” said Terry Smith, director of the state’s Division of Family Assistance. “New Hampshire has one of the oldest nutrition education programs in the country.”
The program is more than 20 years old. New Hampshire’s funding has increased over that time from an initial grant of $25,000.
The federal government puts aside $389 million for nutrition education in the states for food stamp recipients, Smith said.
The Cooperative Extension Service’s work will reach just about everyone in the state who receives food stamps, he said.
Clients get about $5.80 per day in aid to feed each person in their household, he said.
“So, the purpose of the nutrition education is twofold,” Smith said. “To teach people how to purchase food on a budget and how to choose nutritional food and cook it.”
Cooperative Extension specialist Debbie Luppold said nutrition education ranges from group presentations to one-on-one instruction in homes and home study courses.
Luppold said the program definitely helps families and has taught them to make changes in what they eat, such as increasing fruits and vegetables, and how they purchase food.
There are 6,872 households in Rockingham County that receive food stamps.
Smith said the number of cases statewide has increased during the recession, up more than 25,000 since June 2008.