SNAP’s Role in Improving Nutrition as well as Food Security

Posted by on September 19, 2011

SNAP’s Role in Improving Nutrition as well as Food Security

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program, is a
profoundly important program for tens of millions of low-income people in our country, boosting food
security and with well-documented benefits to child and adult health and well-being as well as the

Recently much discussion has centered on whether SNAP can play a bigger role in fighting obesity
without harming its other positive outcomes. FRAC has developed this paper to review a variety of
strategies that have been proposed in the context of SNAP and dietary quality. The paper first provides
background information on SNAP, including a review of participant characteristics, benefit redemption
patterns, and purchasing habits. The paper then summarizes the research on SNAP’s role in dietary
quality, obesity, and other health outcomes, such as food insecurity. The third section of the paper
details a number of promising strategies to further promote healthy eating and address obesity among
SNAP participants. The final section describes why restricting food choice in SNAP, as some have
proposed, is a flawed strategy.

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