The Gillings Sustainable Agriculture Project: A Gillings Innovative Laboratory


Local markets, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and food insecurity in the US

Local markets, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and food insecurity in the US

Brenda McCauley; Nutrition 245; Spring 2012; April 24, 2012

Although SNAP participation is at a record high, the people of our nation are still facing food insecurity and malnutrition

Figure 1. The above map shows the % of the population for the 48 contiguous states of the US that were food insecure from 2008 to 2010.

The number of SNAP recipients has exploded since 2008

  • In 2008, only 28,223,000 people received food stamps and the total cost was $37,639,990,000. The average benefit per person was $102.19. 9
  • In 2011, these numbers increased to 44,709,000 and $75,674,390,000. The average benefit per person was $133.85. 9 

Although the average benefit per person increased, the percent of households suffering from food insecurity has remained constant in previous years

  • From 2008 to 2010, the percent of US households classified as food insecure increased from 14.6% to 14.7% from 2008 to 2009 and decreased from 14.7% to 14.5% from 2009 to 2010. 4, 8
  • These changes are found to be statistically insignificant. 4
  • Many households in the US that receive SNAP benefits are still considered food insecure. 6

Food insecurity and SNAP benefits are typical for certain geographic areas and ethnicities

  • Food insecurity is more common in rural and urban areas compared to suburban areas. 4
  • Households with single parents are more likely to be food insecure. 4
  • Hispanic and African American households are more likely to be food insecure. 1, 4, 6
  • Only 59% of food insecure households participated in any federal food and nutrition assistance programs. 4

 

Food insecurity could be tied to the use of SNAP benefits on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and processed foods

  • SNAP participants purchase at least 40% more SSBs than other consumers. 7
  • SSBs and processed foods contain little to no essential nutrients and are considered empty calorie foods. 7

Food insecurity could also be linked to poor eating habits in adolescents

  • Adolescents that are food insecure perceive healthy foods to be inconvenient and to taste bad. 1
  • Food insecure adolescents consume more fast food and fewer breakfasts per week than food secure adolescents. They also ate fewer meals with family per week. 10
  • Food insecure adolescents were more likely to have a body mass index above the 95th percentile. 10
  • However, food secure and food insecure adolescents equally realize that people who eat healthy foods obtain health benefits. 10

Utilizing SNAP in a local market setting could reduce the number of people with health problems caused by food insecurity

Although the number of farmers’ markets in the US increased by 200% from 1994 to 2009, only 18% of the markets accept electronic benefits transaction (EBT), the method for using SNAP

  • The Carrboro Farmers’ Market implemented a program using “Truck Bucks”. A person could swipe their EBT card and receive truck bucks in $1 increments than use them on food around the market at a discounted price. 2
  • Many farmers’ markets also accept Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and senior assistance coupons. 2
  • If every major market could use this, or a similar, method and accept the coupons, more people using SNAP would be enticed to visit the local markets.

The relocation of local markets could help people in rural and urban areas

  • Many markets are located in wealthier, suburban areas. The demand for fresh, seasonal produce has been supplied to the consumer but, sometimes, at too high of a price for those on SNAP.
  • Neighborhood markets have grown in urban areas which increased healthy patterns and food security for people in the community. 3
  • The people in the community work together to grow their own food. This decreases their dependence on SNAP and their food insecurity because they are growing their own supply of food.
  • The feeling of togetherness from working to produce healthy food resonates throughout the community and creates a strong social response.
  • People in Hispanic communities can help one another better understand SNAP and how to benefit from the federal food and nutrition programs. Inability to understand these programs due to language barriers is a big problem for non-English speaking households. 1

 

Adolescent involvement in the local markets can teach future generations about healthy foods

  • The youth of a community can work with  the staff of the market to learn that healthy foods are just as tasty, if not more so, than processed high-sugar foods.
  • Programs geared towards different age groups can be implemented to introduce healthy foods to children when they are young, making it easier for them to continue making healthy food choices as they get older.


References

1 Algert, Susan J., Michael Reibel, and Marian J. Renvall “Barriers to Participation in the Food Stamp Program Among Food Pantry Clients in Los Angeles.” American Journal of Public Health 96.5 (2006): 807-809.

2 Bouloubasis, Victoria ShareCarrboro Farmers’ Market Launches New SNAP Program. Independent Weekly, 28 Apr. 2010. Web. 3 Apr. 2012 <http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/carrboro-farmers-market-launches-new-snap-progam/Content?oid=1396698&gt;.

3 Brown, Allison “Counting Farmers Markets.” Geographical Review 91.4 (2001): 655-674.

4 Coleman-Jensen, Alisha, Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steve Carlson “Household Food Security in the United States in 2010.” Economic Research Service (2011).

5 Jones, Paula, and Rajiv Bhatia ” Supporting Equitable Food Systems Through Food Assistance at Farmers’ Markets.” American Journal of Public Health 101.5 (2011): 781-783.

6 Oberholser, Cheryl A., and Cynthia R. Tuttle “Assessment of Household Food Security Among Food Stamp Recipient Families in Maryland.” American Journal of Public Health 94.5 (2004): 790-795.

7 Shenkin, Johnathan D. “Using the Food Stamp Program and Other Methods to Promote Healthy Diets for Low-Income Consumers.” American Journal of Public Health 100.9 (2010): 1562-1564.

8 Sitton, Janice “Stepping up to the Food Recovery Plate.” Biocycle Mar. 2011: 44-48.

9 SNAP Annual Summary. USDA, 2 Apr. 2012. Web. 7 Apr. 2012 <http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/SNAPsummary.htm&gt;.

10 Widome, Rachel et al. “Eating When There is Not Enough to Eat: Eating Behaviors and Perceptions of Food Among Food-Insecure Youths.” American Journal of Public Health 99.5 (2009): 822-828.

Annotated Bibliography

1 Algert, Susan J., Michael Reibel, and Marian J. Renvall “Barriers to Participation in the Food Stamp Program Among Food Pantry Clients in Los Angeles.” American Journal of Public Health 96.5 (2006): 807-809.

In this article, Algert et al. executed study on 14,317 individuals attending 2 different food pantries in Pomona and Ontario (cities in the greater Los Angeles area) during 2003. The study focused on income, housing, ethnicity, and homelessness. They found that single parents and individuals with better English language ability were more likely to receive food stamps and homeless and better educated individuals were less likely to receive food stamps.

2 Bouloubasis, Victoria ShareCarrboro Farmers’ Market Launches New SNAP Program. Independent Weekly, 28 Apr. 2010. Web. 3 Apr. 2012 <http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/carrboro-farmers-market-launches-new-snap-progam/Content?oid=1396698&gt;.

This article described the implementation of the use of EBT at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. Sarah Blacklin, the market manager, wanted to ensure that everyone in the community could purchase food at the market. The article focused on the large number of people who qualify for SNAP within 1 mile of the market and how the market is making it easier, and even beneficial for SNAP recipients to shop at the market.

3 Brown, Allison “Counting Farmers Markets.” Geographical Review 91.4 (2001): 655-674.

Allison Brown describes the different types of farmers’ markets in the country as well as the change in the numbers and types of markets over the years. She also describes the politics and economics that cause the changes in our nation’s farmers’ markets. Laws, such as the Farmer to Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976, is the reason for the surge in farmers market numbers in the 1980s that continues today.

4 Coleman-Jensen, Alisha, Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, and Steve Carlson “Household Food Security in the United States in 2010.” Economic Research Service (2011).

This report is from the Economic Research Service and details household food security in the United States during the year 2010. The report relays percentages of people that are food secure, food insecure, severely food insecure, and the poverty levels of these people. The socioeconomic profile of the households are described as well.

5 Jones, Paula, and Rajiv Bhatia “Supporting Equitable Food Systems Through Food Assistance at Farmers’ Markets.” American Journal of Public Health 101.5 (2011): 781-783.

This article explains the problem of why people on food stamps cannot obtain food stuff from local markets. The problems include lack of markets in low-income neighborhoods, markets not accepting EBT, and lack of technical and financial abilities to fix these problems. The main solution the authors of the article found to this problem was to gain funds from public and/or private foundations to allow people to use EBT at the markets.

6 Oberholser, Cheryl A., and Cynthia R. Tuttle “Assessment of Household Food Security Among Food Stamp Recipient Families in Maryland.” American Journal of Public Health 94.5 (2004): 790-795.

This article describes a study done in Maryland on the relationship between food security and sociodemographic characteristics among 245 households that include children, speak English, and receive food stamps. The results showed that many of the families also participated in other government food assistance programs such as free or reduced-price school meals, WIC, and food banks. The study showed that there is still a large gap between the support provided by food stamps and the nutritional and economic needs of the households.

7 Shenkin, Johnathan D. “Using the Food Stamp Program and Other Methods to Promote Healthy Diets for Low-Income Consumers.” American Journal of Public Health 100.9 (2010): 1562-1564.

This article describes what people are currently using SNAP to buy at stores (sugary and processed foods and beverages) and the detrimental health effects of consuming these foods (obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.). The article also focuses on how governmental policies such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are attempting to decrease the purchasing of these types of foods. The dilemma of such acts and other attempts to minimize the use of SNAP on unhealthy food is that these efforts would be met with severe opposition.

8 Sitton, Janice “Stepping up to the Food Recovery Plate.” Biocycle Mar. 2011: 44-48.

This article addresses the issue of food insecurity in the United States and how much we as a nation waste in food stuff. Less than one percent of food waste in America is reused or recycled while the other 33 million tons are placed in a landfill or incinerated. The article also describes ways people are trying to decrease food insecurity and waste by placing old but still good food in food pantries and placing food waste in composts.

9 SNAP Annual Summary. USDA, 2 Apr. 2012. Web. 7 Apr. 2012 <http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/SNAPsummary.htm&gt;.

This summary shows the values related to SNAP in the United States from 1969 to 2012. The details include how many people in the United States receive food stamps, how much on average each person gets, and the total amount of money spent to support the food stamp program. From 1969 to 2012, the participation has increased from 2,878,000 people to 44,709,000 people and the total cost has increased from $250,500,000 to $75,674,390,000.

10 Widome, Rachel et al. “Eating When There is Not Enough to Eat: Eating Behaviors and Perceptions of Food Among Food-Insecure Youths.” American Journal of Public Health 99.5 (2009): 822-828.

This article reports on a study done between food insecure and food secure multi-ethnic adolescents in middle and high school. The study found that food insecure teens are less likely to eat healthy foods and more likely to be overweight, even though both groups of teens understand the health benefits from eating healthily. Examining the food patterns of youth could be a link to preventing our nation’s children from developing many of the diseases their parents have.


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