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To examine the opinions of stakeholders on strategies to improve dietary quality of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants.
Participants answered a thirty-eight-item web-based survey assessing opinions and perceptions of SNAP and programme policy changes.
Survey of 522 individuals with stakeholder interest in SNAP, conducted in October through December 2011.
The top three barriers to improving dietary quality identified were: (i) unhealthy foods marketed in low-income communities; (ii) the high cost of healthy foods; and (iii) lifestyle challenges faced by low-income individuals. Many respondents (70 %) also disagreed that current SNAP benefit levels were adequate to maintain a healthy diet. Stakeholders believed that vouchers, coupons or monetary incentives for purchasing healthful foods might have the greatest potential for improving the diets of SNAP participants. Many respondents (78 %) agreed that sodas should not be eligible for purchases with SNAP benefits. More than half (55 %) believed retailers could easily implement such restrictions. A majority of respondents (58 %) agreed that stores should stock a minimum quantity of healthful foods in order to be certified as a SNAP retailer, and most respondents (83 %) believed that the US Department of Agriculture should collect data on the foods purchased with SNAP benefits.
Results suggest that there is broad stakeholder support for policies that align SNAP purchase eligibility with national public health goals of reducing food insecurity, improving nutrition and preventing obesity.
To determine public attitudes towards federal spending on nutrition assistance programmes and support for policies to improve the nutritional impact of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Participants answered survey questions by telephone assessing support for SNAP spending and proposed programme policy changes.
Survey of 3024 adults selected by random digit dialling conducted in April 2012, including 418 SNAP participants.
A majority (77 %; 95 % CI 75, 79 %) of all respondents supported maintaining or increasing SNAP benefits, with higher support among Democrats (88 %; 95 % CI 86, 90 %) than Republicans (61 %; 95 % CI 58, 65 %). The public supported policies to improve the nutritional impact of SNAP. Eighty-two per cent (95 % CI 80, 84 %) of respondents supported providing additional benefits to programme participants that can only be used on healthful foods. Sixty-nine per cent (95 % CI 67, 71 %) of respondents supported removing SNAP benefits for sugary drinks. A majority of SNAP participants (54 %; 95 % CI 48, 60 %) supported removing SNAP benefits for sugary drinks. Of the 46 % (95 % CI 40, 52 %) of SNAP participants who initially opposed removing sugary drinks, 45 % (95 % CI 36, 54 %) supported removing SNAP benefits for sugary drinks if the policy also included additional benefits to purchase healthful foods.
The US public broadly supports increasing or maintaining spending on SNAP. The majority of respondents, including SNAP participants, supported policies to improve the nutritional impact of SNAP by restricting the purchase of sugary drinks and incentivizing purchase of healthful foods with SNAP benefits.
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