Strengthening the public health impacts of the supplemental nutrition assistance program through policy

Sara N. Bleich, Alyssa J. Moran, Kelsey A. Vercammen, Johannah M. Frelier, Caroline G. Dunn, Anthony Zhong, Sheila E. Fleischhacker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the cornerstone of the US nutrition safety net. Each month, SNAP provides assistance to 40 million low-income Americans-nearly half of them children. A number of changes could strengthen the public health impacts of SNAP. This review first presents a framework describing the mechanisms through which SNAP policy can influence public health, particularly by affecting the food security, the diet quality, and, subsequently, the health of SNAP participants. We then discusspolicy opportunities with the greatest potential to strengthen the public health impacts of SNAP, organized into three areas: (a) food production and distribution, (b) benefit allocation, and (c) eligibility and enrollment. For each section, we describe current policy and limitations of the status quo, suggest evidence-based opportunities for policy change to improve public health, and identify important areas for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-480
Number of pages28
JournalAnnual review of public health
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • SNAP
  • diet quality
  • federal nutrition assistance
  • nutrition policy
  • public health
  • social safety net

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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