Lack of healthy food in small-size to mid-size retailers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, 2014

Melissa N. Laska, Caitlin E. Caspi, Jennifer E. Pelletier, Robin Friebur, Lisa J. Harnack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: The US Department of Agriculture has stocking criteria for healthy foods among Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP)-authorized retailers. Increased access to healthy food could improve diet quality among SNAP participants, which has implications for chronic disease prevention. The objective of this study was to quantify healthy foods stocked in small-size to mid-size retailers who are authorized under SNAP but not under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Methods: We used formative, cross-sectional data from a large policy evaluation to conduct secondary analyses. Store audits were conducted in 2014 in 91 randomly selected, licensed food stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Supermarkets and retailers participating in WIC, which are required to stock healthy foods, were excluded as were other stores not reasonably expected to stock staple foods, such as specialty stores or produce stands. Availability of milk, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain-rich foods was assessed. Results: The 91 stores studied were corner stores, food-gas marts, dollar stores, and pharmacies. More than half carried 1 or more varieties of fat-free or low-fat milk, fresh or canned fruit, and whole-grain-rich cereal. However, only one-third stocked 1 or more varieties of fresh vegetables and only one-quarter stocked whole-grain-rich products, such as whole-grain-rich bread (26%) or tortillas (21%) or brown rice (25%). Few stores stocked at least 2 varieties of each product. Conclusions: Many stores did not stock a variety of healthy foods. The US Department of Agriculture should change policies to improve minimum stocking requirements for SNAP-authorized retailers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number150171
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Volume12
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

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