Importance of the supplemental nutrition assistance program in rural America


Harnack, L.; Valluri, S.; French, S.A.


There is great interest in reshaping the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) so that it better supports family nutrition, and an array of program changes have been proposed. We note the importance of considering the unique needs of rural SNAP participantswhen considering and implementing these changes. We also describe the SNAP-related needs and challenges unique to rural SNAP participants, and through this lens we discuss changes to SNAP that have been proposed and special considerations related to each. The special considerations we identified include allowing canned, frozen, and dried fruits and vegetables as eligible items in financial incentive programs in rural areas; changing direct education programming to address transportation-related barriers many rural families face in attending in-person classes; and supporting rigorous research to evaluate the potential benefits and unintended consequences of proposed program changes for which scant high-quality evaluation data exist. Evaluation studies should include rural SNAP participants so that effects in this important population group are known. © 2019 American Public Health Association Inc. All Rights Reserved.