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New Research Shows Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Supports Healthy Diet Choices among Participants

Press Release
Release No.
Contact: FNS Press Team

Washington, DC, April 24, 2013 – The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program increases the likelihood that recipients will eat whole fruit, and leads to a modest decrease in the consumption of dark green and orange vegetables. Overall, the diets of participants and low-income non-participants are similar, according to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Leads to Modest Changes in Diet Quality, a report released today by USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Program participants were 23 percentage points more likely to consume whole fruit when they receive SNAP benefits than when they do not. The study’s finding on SNAP participants’ modest declines in consumption of dark green and orange vegetables may be related to time constraints of the working poor, and the preparation time required to consume those foods. While the study found that the diets of SNAP participants are similar overall to those of low-income non-participants, it found that the participants are more likely to consume less sodium and saturated fat.

“All Americans, SNAP participants and non-participants alike, have work to do when it comes to eating a healthy diet,” said Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon. “The results of this study reinforce the critical role of USDA programs designed to increase access to healthy foods and nutrition education among low-income children and families to help make the healthy choice, an easy choice.”

USDA is focused on improving nutrition and empowering low-income families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food through its nutrition assistance programs.

  • USDA provides shopping strategies and meal planning advice to help families serve more nutritious meals affordably through its 10-Tips Nutrition Series and the Thrifty Food Plan.
  • USDA is making fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible for low-income families. More than 3,200 farmers markets and farm stands are now authorized to accept payment through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, an increase of nearly 100 percent since 2010.
  • USDA recently expanded the scope of SNAP-Ed to include targeted nutrition education and obesity prevention activities for SNAP recipients and other low-income individuals.
  • USDA is conducting pilot projects to identify effective strategies for encouraging healthy food consumption among SNAP recipients.
  • USDA's MyPlate symbol and the resources at provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.
  • USDA also created SuperTracker, a free online planning and tracking tool used by over two million Americans daily to help them improve food choices, maintain a healthy weight, and track physical activity.

Improving the diets of participants is a key focus of USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. Together these programs make up the federal nutrition safety net.

Page updated: March 10, 2022