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MU extension nutritional educational program suspended from government shutdown

By Sherree Burruss, Sports Reporter, sherree.burruss@kmiz.com
Published On: Oct 08 2013 08:45:05 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 09 2013 07:40:43 AM CDT

More than 100 staff members are without work at the University of Missouri extension's nutrition education program.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -

One Columbia program is still on hold tonight after government budget cuts.

More than 100 staff members are without work at the University of Missouri extension's nutrition education program. Employees of the program work every day of the year helping low-income families in Columbia improve their lives.

The program director said staff is standing by and ready to go but needs financial help from Uncle Sam.

Tonight thousands of low-income families in Columbia are missing out on the benefits of the nutrition education program.

The University of Missouri suspended it when the shutdown began.

"With that, those folks in the first couple of weeks are not going to be... so we are talking about 15,000 to 20,000 people that would've received this information, are not going to be able to receive this information," said Jo Britt-Rankin, program director.

Over 100 faculty and staff members are currently being paid by the university, but that will stop in two weeks.

Britt-Rankin hopes a solution is reached before the layoffs begin, but said the main concern is the impact it will have on the future.

"When you have long-term programming and you're seeing this sustained impact, any time we shut down a project such as this or research, those benefits are lost and it's very hard to regain the momentum," said Britt-Rankin.

Last summer, through the MU extension nutrition classes, a junior high girl lost more than 25 pounds by eating healthier and exercising, skills the program teaches.

Britt-Rankin said, "We have data to show that individuals are more likely to consume greater amounts of fruits and vegetables, we see increases in physical activity, either they have begun to incorporate more physical activity into their lifestyle or they increase the physical activity they have in a day."

This is the program's 20th year in operation.

Britt-Rankin said the suspension is affecting more than 330,000 adults and grade school students across the state.

The university will pay the program's employees until October 21st.

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