Where S.N.A.P. And Other US Households Acquire Food Correlates With Nutritional Quality
by Lisa Mancino and Joanne Guthrie, USDA ERS
Posted: 2018-02-27 15:26:30 EST

National data show that Americans’ diets are typically lower in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, and higher in calorie-dense, low-nutrient foods compared to Federal recommendations. Since the first step to a healthy diet is purchasing, or otherwise acquiring, a nutritious mix of foods, understanding where households shop and the types of foods they select could inform strategies to improve Americans’ diets. USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) offers information on the foods acquired by American households, whether at grocery stores, restaurants, school cafeterias, food pantries, or other sources, allowing researchers and others to gain more insights into food choices. These insights can guide efforts to improve food choices and diets, and, in turn, health.

While dietary improvement is important for most Americans, the challenges facing low-income households are of particular concern. In 2017, USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provided more than 42 million Americans with financial benefits that increased their food purchasing power. Evidence shows that SNAP benefits help alleviate poverty and food insecurity—households struggling to afford enough food for all members—among participating households. However, like most Americans, the dietary patterns of SNAP participants show room for improvement, with adult participants typically under-consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthy foods, while consuming excess calories from solid fats and added sugars.

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