The goal of the largest federal nutrition assistance program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is to reduce hunger and improve the lives of low-income individuals and families, particularly disadvantaged families with children.
In a study in the April 2014 Pediatrics, “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation and Child Food Security,” published online March 3, researchers surveyed 3,000 households with children participating in SNAP and did a cross-sectional analysis comparing households who recently joined the program and households who have participated for 6 months.
They also conducted a longitudinal survey comparing new SNAP households and the same households 6 months later. They found that children in households who have participated in SNAP for 6 months experienced substantial improvements in food security and were approximately 36 percent less likely to be food insecure in both samples. In the cross-sectional analysis only, SNAP was associated with a decrease in the odds of children experiencing severe food insecurity (referred to as very low food security).
Authors conclude that SNAP reduces child food insecurity, and plays a vital role in improving the health and well-being of low-income children through providing benefits to be spent on food.