March 17, 2017
The diets of Americans fall far short of recommended dietary guidelines, and those who live in low-income households have even poorer diets than higher-income households. Many low-income Americans rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The program’s dual goals are to improve food security and nutrition. Among the possible strategies to address dietary shortfalls among low-income Americans is to increase the SNAP benefit. This article uses data from the random assignment evaluation of the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children demonstration to add new insights on the impact of SNAP on diet quality for households receiving SNAP who also received SNAP-like benefits through Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children. Households received $60 each month per eligible school-aged child. The objective of the evaluation was to see if Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children improved children’s food security and nutrition. The evaluation surveyed these households to collect information about food expenditures, food security, and children’s diets. For households receiving SNAP in sites that used the SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer delivery system, the analysis showed increases in food expenditures and decreases in levels of food insecurity. The analysis also indicates improvements in dietary quality among school-aged children, but the impacts were modest.