A new study says the federal government’s food stamps program could do more to encourage healthy eating among recipients. Harvest Public Media’s Peter Gray has more.
USDA Researchers tracked 7 years of shopping habits of adult recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. They were looking for a link between food stamp enrollment and healthier food choices. the picture they got from 2001 to 2008 was mixed: More households were buying fresh fruit. But a very slim percentage were eating fewer greens than those not getting food aid. USDA economist Christian Gregory says policymakers considering changes to SNAP benefits shouldn’t forget about the program’s goal to encourage healthy eating.
“The USDA is very concerned about supporting nutritious diets, and so they’re looking at different kinds of options for low income families,” says Gregory.
Those options include incentive programs – basically providing discounts to SNAP recipients for fresh produce. The USDA plans to study further the impact of food stamps on diets, as obesity rates remain a major public health concern.