The jobs of more than 100 MU Extension nutrition educators are in jeopardy because of the government shutdown.
As of 5 p.m. yesterday, extension faculty and staff are no longer teaching in classrooms or community centers throughout state.
All MU Extension nutrition programs have been suspended. Nutrition educators will stay on the job for the next 2 weeks thanks to a one-time payment from the University of Missouriâ??s reserve funds. After that, there would be layoffs if the government shutdown continues.
There is enough money to cover salaries, but not the cost of traveling to more than 800 schools for federally funded nutrition education programs. MU Extension nutrition educators usually reach more than 1,000 people everyday. The programs help adults stretch their food dollars and help children make healthy food choices. MU Extension officials said layoffs would not only hurt their employees they would also have a negative impact on the eating habits of Missourians for years to come.
Program Director Jo Britt-Rankin said, â??We need that continual re-enforcement of educational messages to see those positive behavior changes.â??
MU Extension administrators worry some of their experienced nutrition educators might quit because of the recent instability of federal funding.
MU Extension spokesman Dennis Gagnon said, â??We need that solid base of true, trusted employees out there who have proven they can deliver this. We certainly would not want to have to recreate the wheel by having a long-term situation where employees would decide they need other employment options.â??
MU Extension employs nutrition educators for all of Missouriâ??s 114 counties. Extension officials said the government shutdown needs to end quickly to keep their programs strong and the trust of the community in place.
The layoff deadline for MU Extension nutrition educators is October 21.