Changes in the Local Food-at-Home Environment, SNAP Participation, and Dietary Quality: Evidence from FoodAPS

There have been many state and federal efforts in the past decade to increase fruit and vegetable purchases through the SNAP program for low-income households, such as the USDA NIFA GusNIP (Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program). In our study, we find that supermarkets emerge as an important determinant of vegetable purchases among SNAP households. High supermarket counts at 9 miles are associated with higher Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores for vegetables for both urban and rural households. This is also true in the case of rural households for fruit purchases. Our findings do not demonstrate the efficacy of these programs but provide evidence that such initiatives may increase fruit and vegetable consumption, given the impact of the food environment on food choices for these categories.

In the new study “Changes in the Local Food-at-Home Environment, SNAP Participation, and Dietary Quality: Evidence from FoodAPS” released in the Journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (JAAEA), Richard Volpe, Xiaowei Cai and Marilyn Tseng from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and Eliana Zeballos and Wilson Sinclair from the USDA Economic Research Service aimed to use USDA’s FoodAPS and Nielson IQ TDLix data to measure how changes in US households’ local food-at-home environment have impacted their HEI scores via grocery purchases from 2004-2013.

Cai says, “By explaining variation in HEI scores for rural households, our study provides empirical evidence that policy design with regard to food access has the stronger potential to affect food choices of rural households. Specifically, we find that supermarket access has a positive association with HEI total fruit scores for rural households. Because the FoodAPS data oversample low-income households, our finding suggests that policy efforts to encourage supermarket entry into rural areas can improve food choices for fruits in the medium-to-long run.”

The JAAEA covers a broad range of topics in agricultural and applied economics and is an open access journal, and is an author- and reader-friendly with quick review and publication times, free format submissions, and a sound-science approach to peer-review. that is focused on technical correctness rather than the perceived importance of a topic.

If you are interested in reading any of JAAEA’s open access articles visit Wiley’s Online Library or to speak with the author, please contact Allison Ware in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes three journals, the Journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (an open access journal), the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit http://www.aaea.org.

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