SNAP to Health

A Fresh Approach to Strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides America’s low-income population with resources to purchase food in an effort to alleviate hunger and improve nutritional status.

As poverty, hunger, and food insecurity have changed from being associated with under-nutrition and thinness to obesity and chronic disease, this report suggests ways in which the SNAP program can be strengthened to meet these challenges. The authors note SNAP recipients face barriers to achieving nutritional diets, including access to health food, strong marketing of unhealthy foods, relatively low prices of energy-dense food, and lifestyles that prevent or discourage cooking and healthy meal preparation.

The report identifies 10 key recommendations, which received side support in the project’s stakeholder survey:

  1. Protect current funding levels for SNAP.
  2. Collect data on SNAP purchases.
  3. Identify a set of integrated strategies that would help align SNAP purchases with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  4. Focus attention on Children’s health in SNAP.
  5. Use incentives to make fruits, vegetable, and whole grains the easy choice.
  6. Establish stronger food stocking standards for SNAP retailers.
  7. Provide states with flexibility to evaluate fresh approaches to SNAP.
  8. Promote innovation in SNAP.
  9. Create a partnership to move SNAP towards health.
  10. Establish a national strategy of fresh approaches to strengthen SNAP.

Updating and modernizing SNAP can potentially catalyze both short-and long-term cost savings, including savings in health care, worker productivity, and children’s educational achievement.

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