Policy Brief

SNAP Can Support Health

Lessons for California and the Nation

September 29, 2016

By Barbara Laraia, PhD, MPH, RD and Tashara M. Leak, PhD, MS, RD

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or CalFresh in California, is responsible for improving access to food for America’s most vulnerable populations. While participation in SNAP elevates people out of poverty and reduces food insecurity, whether and how the program changes dietary behaviors is less clear. The primary aim of the current brief is to summarize ways in which SNAP can reach more people, as well as encourage participants to make healthier choices and consume nutritious diets. This brief is a companion to the brief, “The Future of SNAP?”, which described challenges and future directions of SNAP. We use California as an example, as it has the largest number of participants; about 4.4 million or roughly 10% of SNAP participants nationwide.