• Develop longitudinal datasets containing appropriate measures of food insecurity, access to a healthy diet, and SNAP participation as part of the evidence base it uses to define adequacy.
• Assess existing and establish new evaluation protocols that can measure the impact of SNAP participation on food security and access to a healthy diet, accounting for selection biases (e.g., that SNAP participants may be more likely to be food insecure than the general low-income population).
• Evaluate additional nutrition monitoring tools, including a standardized measurement tool with which to monitor and assess the ability of SNAP allotments to support a dietary pattern consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The committee identified the Healthy Eating Index as one example of a measure that could be adapted to assess whether SNAP participants are meeting recommended dietary goals.
Meeting Additional Research Needs
The committee identified several factors related to SNAP program participation that may affect whether some SNAP participants are able to meet the program goals and for which evidence is currently inadequate to fully assess their importance. These factors may affect either directly or indirectly the definition of the adequacy of SNAP allotments. The two broad areas in which additional research is needed to further develop the knowledge base for the potential use of these factors in defining allotment adequacy are educational programs that can help participants increase the purchasing power of the SNAP allotment and access to retail outlets and foods.
Recommendation 4: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) should conduct further research in the following areas to support the definition of allotment adequacy:
• To better assess how participants’ understanding of nutrition and resource management skills affect the adequacy of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allotments, USDA-FNS should
—assess whether and how strengthening the quality (content and delivery mechanisms) of education in nutrition and resource management skills can support allotment adequacy, for example,