Around $5 million in nutrition education funding is changing oversight agency. The Pennyrile Allied Community Services Executive Director Judy Peterson says state officials informed the office in July that as of October 1 funding for that program would go to local health departments.
State Nutrition Services Branch Manager Fran Hawkins says the state’s 59 local health departments will teach young children healthy eating habits. Hawkins says it makes sense to run the program through the health departments, rather than PACS.
“The local health departments already have on board health professionals who are nurses, nutritionists or dieticians and health educators who can carry out the initiative," said Hawkins.
PACS has operated 13 state offices with 75 nutrition educators. Their role is to work with schools and one on one with low-income families to teach healthy eating. Peterson says the move means those employees will lose their jobs.
“And during this time, we’ve assisted our employees. Some have gone into the school systems. Some are going to further their education. We’re making every effort to help these 75," said Peterson.
Hawkins does not expect to hire more health department staff to run the program.
Hawkins says the state is still waiting on the federal government to approve its new education plan. But she adds the program change is still on track for October. Hawkins says state officials will brief local health departments on their new role later this month.