Published: October 2019

Journal: Transl Behav Med

Authors: Powell LM, Singleton CR, Li Y, Anderson Steeves E, Castro IA, Grigsby-Toussaint D, Haynes-Maslow L, Houghtaling B, Laska MN, Leone LA, Seguin R, Uslan D

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Low-income communities often lack access to supermarkets and healthy foods. Enhanced stocking requirements for staple foods for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)- authorized retailers may increase availability of healthy foods in smaller stores which are prevalent in low-income areas. This study aimed to evaluate the extent that small food stores located in low-income areas met the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2016 final rule on SNAP-authorized retailer stocking requirements, which increased the minimum number of required staple food varieties from three to seven for each staple food category, required a depth of stock of three units of each variety, and increased the required number of categories with perishables from two to three. A multisite research project was conducted in 2017. Nine research teams located in seven U.S. states audited the availability of perishable and nonperishable staple foods and beverages in 351 small food stores in low-income areas. Analyses determined the extent to which stores met all or part of the stocking requirements and tested differences by store type. 30.2% of stores met all of the 2016 final rule requirements; 86.3% met the requirements for fruits and vegetables, whereas only 30.5% met requirements for dairy. 53.1% of non-chain small grocery stores met all requirements compared to 17.1% of convenience stores (p < .0001). Less than one half of the food stores audited met the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2016 final rule that would expand SNAP-authorized retailer stocking requirements suggesting that, if implemented, the rule may generate increased offerings of staple foods in small stores in low-income areas.

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