the household’s ability to meet the program goals. Factors that reflect physical access include transportation, proximity to outlets providing nutritious foods, and limitations on access for those with a physical handicap. Factors that reflect financial access include food prices; gas prices; and the cost of complementary goods used in home food production and consumption, such as expenditures for housing and utilities. Also playing a role might be actual or perceived access, such as an individual’s belief that nutritious foods can be found for a reasonable price in his or her neighborhood. As with individual/household factors, the various environmental factors affecting access to food may operate independently of a household’s total resources. For households with a given level of resources, for example, those in areas in which the relative prices of fruits and vegetables are higher than average may be less likely to choose to obtain and consume those items than households in areas with less expensive fruits and vegetables. Further detail on these environmental factors related to access to food is presented in Chapter 4.

Purchasing and Consumption Patterns

As noted, the actual purchasing and consumption patterns of low-income households will ultimately be influenced by the total resources available to the household, individual and household factors, and environmental factors that affect access to or the ability to procure different types of foods. In turn, the amounts and types of foods chosen and purchased by low-income households and the foods consumed by household members will directly affect the household’s ability to meet the goals of the SNAP program. These themes are further developed in Chapters 3 and 4.

SNAP Program Characteristics

While Figure 1-1 describes the process determining households’ ability to meet the SNAP goals, it does not explicitly lay out the role of the program in this process. This section presents the logic of the SNAP intervention and explains how it may help households achieve improved food security and access to a healthy diet. Addition of the influence of the SNAP program characteristics to the process depicted in Figure 1-1 completes the framework for this study, as illustrated by Figure 1-2.

SNAP Benefit Formula

The most fundamental way in which the SNAP program intervenes in the process described above is by aiming to enhance the resources available for obtaining foods through SNAP benefits. SNAP allotments are determined by a formula that is described in detail in Chapter 2. At the heart of

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