SNAP and Public Health: The Role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Improving the Health and Well-Being of Americans

Source: Heather Hartline-Grafton, Food Research and Action Center, January 2013

…Overall, the brief demonstrates that poverty and food insecurity have serious consequences for health and well-being in both the short term and long term. Research shows that SNAP plays a critical role not just in alleviating poverty and food insecurity, but also in improving dietary intake and health, especially among children. For example, one of the more recent studies on this topic finds that early exposure to SNAP in childhood has favorable impacts on metabolic and economic outcomes in adulthood. Increasing access to SNAP and improving SNAP benefit levels would do even more to improve the health of the nation.

This paper first will (1) provide brief background information on SNAP; (2) summarize the harmful impacts of poverty, food insecurity, and poor nutrition on health and well-being; (3) review research on SNAP’s role in addressing these issues among low-income Americans; and (4) describe how this role of furthering the public’s health would be enhanced if SNAP benefits were more adequate….