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.

Related Research

July 2012

SNAP to Health: A Fresh Approach to Strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Given the coexistence of hunger and obesity in the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can play a critical role in addressing these public health problems. In April 2012, 46.2 million people were enrolled in SNAP, of whom nearly 50 percent are children. The reauthorization of the SNAP program More

September 2022

Implementing SNAP During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives from the National Network of State SNAP Administrators

SNAP was a critical component of the COVID-19 pandemic response. The beginning of the pandemic saw the largest increase in applications in the program’s history, and the pandemic fundamentally altered how SNAP agencies deliver benefits, interact with participants, and provide supportive services. The goal of this research was to examine SNAP implementation during the first More

September 2022

State Implementation of SNAP Waivers and Flexibilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives From State Agency Leaders

This study aimed to describe state agencies’ implementation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, barriers and facilitators to SNAP implementation, and recommendations to improve SNAP implementation. This study was qualitative, using 7 semistructured, virtual focus groups in April 2021 with state-level SNAP administrators and supportive services More