Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation and Emergency Food Pantry Use.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine the association between Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation and pantry use.

DESIGN

A pretest-posttest design that compared pantry use at program enrollment and after 6 months of participation while controlling for household, economic, and geographic characteristics.

SETTING

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Food Security Survey: a national telephone survey of SNAP new-entrant households conducted in 2011-2012.

PARTICIPANTS

A total of 3,191 households that completed baseline interviews and were still participating in SNAP approximately 6 months later.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE

Received emergency food from pantries in the past 30 days.

ANALYSIS

Logistic regression analysis of pantry use with SNAP participation and time-varying household characteristics as independent variables. Statistical significance was assessed using t tests. The authors applied a Bonferroni adjustment to account for multiple comparisons performed.

RESULTS

Participating in SNAP for 6 months was associated with a decrease in pantry use by 5.2 percentage points (P < .001), representing a 24% reduction (from 21.8% to 16.6%).

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit allotments are sufficient for some households, but 76% of SNAP households that enter the program while using pantries continue to do so about 6 months later, which underscores the need to assess the adequacy of SNAP benefit allotments in ensuring access to sufficient food for a healthy, active life.

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