CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Four organizations across the Commonwealth have been selected by the Baker-Polito Administration for the new Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Nutrition Education Program, including two in western Massachusetts.

The SNAP Education Program (SNAP-Ed) will provide nutrition education and obesity prevention programming to Massachusetts residents, with the goal of promoting healthy food choices and physical activity. The four organizations picked are the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program, YMCA of Greater Boston and Ascentria Care Alliance.

The UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program has been reaching out to community groups who work with children pre-school through 12th grade for years now. Interim Program Director Tracie Gillespie said this will help them continue that work.

“Teach them how to read food labels, how to grocery shop on a budget, how to make a meal plan, what are healthier versions of these different types of food,” said Gillespie. “We’re trying to educate the population who receives SNAP so they can make healthier choices for their family.”

The UMass program is expected to receive $4.6 million for the three year program with the option to renew, which means it could continue for at least the next six years.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said, “Taking an intentional approach to bring on new SNAP-Ed vendors, in addition to initiatives including Universal School Meals, the Healthy Incentives Program, the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, and the new MassHealth 1115 Waiver, Massachusetts continues to be a leader in providing innovative solutions to hunger, and health and nutrition inequities.”

The four organizations were chosen based on their ability to support the areas they cover, where food insecurity have historically been disproportionately high. SNAP-Ed will provide residents with cooking classes, recipes, tips for shopping on a budget and more.

“UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program is pleased to be selected as an awardee. We look forward to our continued partnership with DTA as an Implementing Agency,” said Tracie Gillespie, Interim UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program Director. “We are excited to be part of this important national priority and consider it an honor to provide SNAP-Ed nutrition education programs which ‘make the healthy choice the easy choice’ for Massachusetts residents.”

“The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is thrilled to partner with DTA to be able to continue to provide nutrition education programming to our neighbors in need. We have a long-standing SNAP outreach partnership with DTA, so we are very pleased to be able to expand that partnership into this new area,” said Christina Maxwell, Director of Programs at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.