Start Date: April 2011

ID #: CAS007

Organization: Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress

Project Lead: Susan Blumenthal, MD, MPA

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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest federal food assistance program in the United States. In April 2012, a record 46.2 million people—approximately 15% of the U.S. population—were enrolled in SNAP. Nearly 50 percent of SNAP beneficiaries are children. Given the significant reach SNAP has among the lower-income populations most vulnerable to food insecurity and poor nutrition, the program’s provisions could be powerful policy levers for improving nutrition for a large number of Americans. However, SNAP does not currently offer incentives to beneficiaries to encourage the purchase of nutritious products for themselves and their children, makes little use of its buying power to encourage a healthier food marketplace, and places few limits on the types of foods and beverages that may be purchased with SNAP benefits.  For this project, investigators undertook a scientific literature review on SNAP, conducted key informant interviews with experts across multiple sectors, and designed and implemented a survey of more than 500 key stakeholders to identify barriers and opportunities for improving nutrition for SNAP beneficiaries. A set of recommended strategies for redesigning the program in order to improve the nutrition of participants was developed, focusing particularly on the child and adolescent beneficiaries.

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