Online Program

Does food retail access moderate the impact of fruit and vegetable incentives for SNAP participants?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

Todd Grindal, Ed.D., Social & Economic Policy, Abt Associates, Inc., Cambridge, MA
Parke Wilde, Ph.D., Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston
Gabriel Schwartz, BA, Social & Economic Policy, Abt Associates, Inc., Cambridge, MA
Jacob Klerman, MA, Social and Economic Policy, Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA
Susan Bartlett, Ph.D., Social and Economic Policy, Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA
Introduction: There is strong evidence that providing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants with subsidies that lower the cost of fruits and vegetables leads to an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. However, SNAP participants with low access to healthy food retailers may be unable to take advantage of these subsidies. This study investigates whether the response of SNAP participants to a fruit and vegetable price incentive differed depending on household access to food retailers.

Methods: The analysis exploits the random assignment of households to the incentive. Regression models for the impact of the incentive are augmented with measures of food retail access and interactions of random assignment status with distance to supermarkets. The main outcome—use of the SNAP benefit—is based on Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card transaction records.

Results: Although households that lived within a mile of a participating supermarket spent approximately $2.13 more on targeted fruits and vegetables at participating supermarkets than households that did not live within a mile of a participating supermarket, we found no evidence of an interaction between distance to retailers and the incentive’s impact on patterns of SNAP spending on fruits and vegetables.

Discussion: These findings imply that incentives to purchase fruits and vegetables were equally efficacious for SNAP households with high and low access to food retailers.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain the impact of healthy food incentives on the benefit expenditures of SNAP participants living in different food retail environments. Discuss why differences in food retail access might affect SNAP participants’ food shopping outcomes. List different methods for characterizing the food retail environment.

Keyword(s): Built Environment, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have served as principal investigator or head of analysis for multiple evaluations of federal and state policy, in the process receiving the Meade Fellowship from the Institute of Educational Leadership and being recognized as an Emerging Education Policy Scholar by the Fordham Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.