Food Distribution Program
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 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed)


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What is SNAP-Ed?  

SNAP-Ed is the nutrition education and obesity prevention arm of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps). SNAP-Ed uses evidence-based, comprehensive approaches to improve the likelihood that low-income families want and are able to make healthier food and physical activity choices, consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and, on a limited budget. It provides education, social marketing campaigns, and environmental support for healthy eating behaviors and physical activity in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 3 territories. SNAP-Ed helps assure that the investment in SNAP pays off.


Why does SNAP-Ed matter?

SNAP-Ed is an ounce of prevention to staggering chronic disease rates and their associated healthcare costs. Research shows that by reducing residents’ body mass index (BMI) by just five percent by 2030, each and every state could prevent onset of thousands to millions of obesity-related diseases, while saving billions of dollars in health care costs.  While most Americans’ diets, regardless of income, fall far short of recommendations for good health and contribute to excess rates of preventable diseases,obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension are highest and occur at younger ages in low-income and minority groups.State SNAP-Ed programs operate ‘upstream’ at all levels – neighborhoods, cities, counties, regions and statewide to target these groups with efficient, evidence-based obesity prevention. They promote healthy behaviors and help create conditions where the healthy choice is the easy, preferred choice, sparing low-income families preventable health problems and their associated costs to society.


What returns does SNAP-Ed expect?

State-based SNAP-Ed programs work with other nutrition and public health programs targeting low-income families to leverage resources for maximum impact. By comprehensively helping families achieve the Dietary Guidelines, SNAP-Ed aims to reduce onset of preventable disease and disparities in disease rates between low- and higher-income Americans. The agricultural sector as a whole also benefits from increased market demand for healthful food as a result of SNAP-Ed, particularly if the Dietary Guidelines were achieved.Other benefits to improved nutrition include improved school attendance, worker productivity, healthier communities, and improved readiness for military service.


Who does SNAP-Ed help?

Nearly 95 million Americans are eligible for SNAP-Ed, having incomes below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (a common criterion for means-tested poverty programs and the threshold at which household food insecurity dramatically increases). Over 59 million SNAP-Ed eligible Americans had incomes <130% FPL, the eligibility level for SNAP.


How does SNAP-Ed complement SNAP?

In 2011, almost 15% of all American households and 21%of all households with children, were food insecure.Since SNAP-Ed promotes the health benefits of SNAP and focuses on making healthy choices within a limited budget, it builds on the short-term economic and nutritional value of SNAP food dollars while equipping SNAP-Ed eligible Americans to make better long-term food and lifestyle choices. Essentially, SNAP gives a family a fish, while SNAP-Ed teaches a family to fish.


Why is SNAP-Ed important among USDA programs?

SNAP-Ed is the one USDA program that brings the powerful combination of education, marketing, and environmental support to low-income communities. SNAP-Ed can be delivered anywhere that food and physical activity decisions are made, often through mass media, and with partners at schools, worksites, retail food stores, and faith communities. SNAP-Ed interventions are customized for different rural, urban, age, ethnic, cultural and regional settings. State SNAP-Ed programs work with governmental, non-profit and business partners toward long-term, large-scale change. SNAP-Ed materials and messaging are available to – and improve the effectiveness of – other USDA programming.


Empowering SNAP participants to make healthy food choices through SNAP-Ed is a win for everyone.   SNAP-Ed is a central, valued core benefit of SNAP that strengthens the program while improving the lives of recipients and other low-income families. SNAP is the cornerstone of USDA’s food security system and deserves to be recognized as a health promotion program.



What has SNAP-Ed achieved?

  • Stronger, more robust methods of behavior-based nutrition education. Creation, distribution and sharing of up-to-date and affordable educational resources.
  • More reach, efficiently delivered, to low-income Americans and communities, measured as people, impressions, contacts, locations and partnerships.
  • Increases in fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity by participating low-income children and adults.
  • Improvements in dietary intake of fiber, calcium, iron, and other key nutrients needed for a healthier diet. 
  • Unprecedented gains in statewide fruit and vegetable consumption by low-income residents.
  • Reduction in new cases of overweight among elementary children.
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 Reference:  ASNAA 2013