A University of Minnesota Extension Community Nutrition Educator (CNE) works in Polk County as part of the Simply Good Eating program.

   A University of Minnesota Extension Community Nutrition Educator (CNE) works in Polk County as part of the Simply Good Eating program. She is Janet Figueroa and her office is located in New Paths Area Learning Center in Crookston. Reach her at 281-5864

    What does a CNE do?  CNEs are located in almost every county in Minnesota.  They provide nutrition education programming for low-income families.  They are the nutrition education component of the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  CNEs can be found working at food shelves, schools that have a 50 percent Free/Reduced lunch participation status, senior meal sites, WIC clinics, Headstart programs, etc.  

    A program you may be familiar with that CNEs present in eligible schools is the Go Wild curriculum for grades 3-5.  They began with Go Wild with Fruits and Veggies, moved into Go Wild with Whole Grains and some are now pilot testing the Go wild with Dairy Curriculum.  

    This curriculum was written by Extension Educators and incorporates the use of common Minnesota wild animals in the nutrition story lines, encouraging children to eat healthy foods and to be physically active every day.  

    If you hear your children or grandchildren talking about the “Nutrition Lady” at the school, they are referring to the CNE who visits their classroom.  

     CNEs most often present a series of 6 hands-on classes to each specific group.  In 2012, CNEs reached 4,323 people in our Northwestern region (9 counties) in direct face-to-face programming. They reached 16,792 people indirectly through other methods of education.

     CNEs provide programming on topics around preparing and eating healthy meals, how to cook whole foods rather than highly processed foods from a box, what the recommended daily amounts are to eat of the different food groups, stretching the food budget by making wise consumer choices, food safety and the importance of physical activity for better health.  

    They encourage planting gardens and eating fruits and vegetables and whole grain products.  Learning how to read labels on foods purchased at the grocery store is also an important part of their programming.  

    The role of the Extension CNE is an important one.  Eating a healthy diet and getting enough physical activity every day is the KEY to overall good health.  Nutrition Education is disease prevention in action!  

     For more information about the Extension Community Nutrition program, contact your local county extension office or the extension regional office in Crookston, at 281-8699 or 281-8688.