Participant characteristics and dietary correlates of SNAP and other assistance programs among families with children from racially and ethnically diverse households

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to describe food purchasing behaviors and the home food environment across families simultaneously receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and other cash and food assistance benefits, and assess how child dietary intake varied across three distinct categories of assistance (i.e., SNAP and other assistance programs, assistance programs other than SNAP, and not enrolled in any assistance program). This cross-sectional study was conducted with parents of children aged 5–9 years (N = 1033) from low-income and racially and ethnically diverse households, living in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, metropolitan areas. In an online survey, parents reported enrollment in seven assistance programs (SNAP, WIC [Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children Program], free or reduced-cost school breakfast, free or reduced-cost school lunch, SSI [Supplemental Security Income Program], MFIP [Minnesota Family Investment Program], daycare assistance), food purchasing behaviors, the home food environment, and child dietary and fast-food intake. Descriptive statistics were computed to describe food purchasing behaviors and the home food environment. Multivariable linear regressions were used to evaluate the association between assistance categories and child dietary intake factors. Models were adjusted for child age, parent and child sex, race and ethnicity, household income, primary caregiver's educational attainment, employment status, and place of birth. Relative to families participating in assistance programs other than SNAP and not enrolled in any assistance program, families participating in SNAP and other assistance programs had less reliable modes of transportation to go food shopping (use ‘my own car or vehicle’ 57% vs. 90% and 83%, respectively), shopped less frequently during the month ('1 big trip a month and small trips in between’ 35% vs. 19% and 24%, respectively], had a somewhat higher presence of energy-dense (e.g., ‘French fries’ 60% vs. 35% and 25%, respectively) and high-sodium food items in the home (e.g., ‘canned pasta’ meals 48% vs. 35% and 20%, respectively), and some aspects of children's dietary intake that were not congruent with current dietary recommendations (e.g., consumption of ‘fried vegetables’ 3.9 times/week [95% CI 3.4, 4.4] vs. 2.9 [2.3, 3.5] and 2.8 [2.1, 3.6], respectively). Findings could inform targeted strategies to maximize the impact of simultaneous programs' benefits on improving child dietary intake and reaching eligible households not enrolled in assistance programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106015
JournalAppetite
Volume174
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
To address this gap, the present study described the family food purchasing behaviors and home food environment among low-income, racially and ethnically diverse, and immigrant/refugee households by their participation in SNAP, the largest Federal food and nutrition assistance program (U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, & Office of Policy Support, 2019), and six other assistance programs (i.e., WIC, free or reduced-cost school breakfast, free or reduced-cost school lunch, Supplemental Security Income [SSI], Minnesota Family Investment Program [MFIP], and daycare assistance). We also explored the associations of participation in SNAP and the six other assistance programs with aspects of child dietary intake. Participation in SNAP and the six other programs was compared to households enrolled in assistance programs but not SNAP, and those not enrolled in any assistance program despite likely being eligible for assistance.An affirmative response to the following question determined participation in cash and food assistance programs Does your family receive any of the following? Check all that apply: (1) Food support/stamps (SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program]), (2) WIC (Women, Infants and Children Program), (3) Free or reduced-cost school breakfast, (4) Free or reduced-cost school lunch, (5) SSI (Supplemental Security Income), (6) MFIP (Minnesota Family Investment Program), (7) daycare assistance, (8) None. SNAP, WIC, school breakfast and lunch, and daycare assistance programs provide supplemental food and nutrition to children and/or their families, while SSI and MFIP provide cash to meet the basic needs of families, including food. An overview of these programs is presented in Appendix A. A detailed description of the different populations these programs serve, the distinct benefits and eligibility criteria, and how applicants and recipients are often eligible for other government programs are described elsewhere (Minnesota Department of Education, 2021; Minnesota Department of Health, 2021; Minnesota Department of Human Services, 2018, 2021, 2022a, 2022b).Families were placed into three distinct categories based on their responses to this question: (1) those who participated in SNAP and at least one of the six other assistance programs (n = 457), (2) those who participated in at least one of the six assistance programs other than SNAP (n = 305), and (3) those who did not participate in any of the seven possible assistance programs but had an income below 200% FPG (n = 271). Analyses by participants exclusively enrolled in each one of these assistance programs was inviable due to the limited sample size (i.e., SNAP only [n = 79], WIC only [n = 42], school breakfast program only [n = 10], school lunch program only [n = 23], SSI only [n = 9], MFIP only [n = 4], daycare only [n = 11]). Moreover, across all study participants included in our analytic sample, 18%, 17%, 11%, and 7% were simultaneously enrolled in 2, 3, 4, and 5 assistance programs, respectively. For instance, for families included in the (1) received SNAP and at least one other type of assistance and (2) did not receive SNAP but received one or more types of assistance, approximately 83% and 70% of families, respectively, simultaneously participated in at least two assistance programs. Therefore, because (1) single program participation and (2) simultaneous participation in 3 or more assistance programs were less prevalent in our sample, we categorized families that participated in one or more assistance programs. We also chose to have SNAP and other food assistance programs in a stand-alone group to assist with the comparability of our findings because SNAP is the largest funded food assistance program in the US (Coleman-Jensen et al., 2020) and the most investigated program regarding health-related outcomes (such as child dietary intake).The research was supported by grant number R01HL126171 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) (PI: JM Berge). The first author's (JN de Brito) training was supported by the NHLBI T32 Research on Eating and Activity for Community Health (REACH) Applied Epidemiology Training Program (T32HL150452; PI: D Neumark-Sztainer) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) T32 Minnesota Obesity Prevention Training (MnOPT) (T32DK083250; PIs: RW Jeffery, CM Kotz). Funders had no role in the design, analysis, or writing of this article.

Funding Information:
The research was supported by grant number R01HL126171 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute ( NHLBI ) (PI: JM Berge). The first author's (JN de Brito) training was supported by the NHLBI T32 Research on Eating and Activity for Community Health (REACH) Applied Epidemiology Training Program (T32HL150452; PI: D Neumark-Sztainer) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases ( NIDDK ) T32 Minnesota Obesity Prevention Training (MnOPT) (T32DK083250; PIs: RW Jeffery, CM Kotz). Funders had no role in the design, analysis, or writing of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Child
  • Diet
  • Family
  • Food assistance
  • Food insecurity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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