Published: July 2021

Publisher: Healthy Eating Research

Authors: Bleich SN, Sullivan K, Broad Leib E, Dunn CG, Woteki C, Yaroch AL, Fleischhacker S

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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest United States Department of Agriculture federal nutrition assistance program. As an entitlement program, SNAP is designed to expand as incomes fall, enabling the program to respond quickly when need increases. For example, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP served an average of 37 million income-eligible Americans each month; however, SNAP enrollment has increased to more than 41.5 million during the pandemic as many individuals have lost jobs or other sources of income. Given the reach of the federal nutrition safety net, efforts to strengthen the public health impact of programs, including SNAP, have provided critical opportunities to improve food security, diet quality, health, and well-being for millions of Americans. This report will identify key policy opportunities that have the greatest potential to improve SNAP participants’ nutritional status and health. The full report also provides a research summary of the effectiveness of SNAP, reviews prior efforts to increase the public health impacts of SNAP, and goes into greater depth on the current policy landscape and key actions for each of the seven opportunities presented.

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