Qualitative Evaluation of Drivers of Eating Decisions among SNAP Participants in Mississippi


Gray, V.B.; Hardman, A.M.; Byrd, S.H.


Objective: To explore food-related decision patterns among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in Mississippi. Design: A qualitative design was used to conduct focus groups (n = 18) based on the Health Belief Model with low-income female caregivers of children aged under 13 years. Setting: Mississippi. Participants: Cluster sampling was used to recruit participants (n = 126) from the 4 regional divisions of Mississippi State University Extension. Phenomenon of Interest: Drivers of eating decisions among SNAP participants. Analysis: Focus groups were recorded, transcribed, and coded by 2 independent coders using thematic analysis. Results: Drivers of food selection often overlapped with barriers to healthy eating. Participants used many strategies to manage costs and viewed healthy foods as out of reach and quick to perish. Cost, taste preferences, habits, and family factors were primary drivers of food selection and preparation; each of these presented barriers to healthier eating. Health was most often shared as a driver of food selection once disease was established. Participants reported a variety of strategies used in striving for healthier eating. Conclusions and Implications: Focusing on ways to manage the costs of healthy foods, honor taste preferences, and work within habits/families may enhance efforts to support healthy eating among SNAP participants. © 2020


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