The circumstances in which foods are purchased and prepared and the food budget, including the SNAP benefit, are intertwined because they both are constraints on the opportunity of a SNAP individual or household to attain the outcomes of food security and access to a healthy diet. The definition of adequacy of SNAP allotments must weigh the importance of both aspects in affecting these outcomes. The committee members’ reasoned assessment about the evidence on these two aspects resulted in its focus on defining adequacy based on individual, household, and environmental factors, as well as program factors; instituting systems to monitor the program outcomes of food security and access to a healthy diet over time, as well as to facilitate future adjustments to the definition of adequacy; and conducting research on the impacts on adequacy of nutrition knowledge and buying skills and access to retail outlets.
The day-to-day diets of millions of people in the United States are supported by the SNAP program; its impact is particularly prominent in periods of economic downturn. The committee offers its recommendations for defining and monitoring SNAP benefit allotment adequacy based on its review and analysis of a broad range of evidence, with the goal of providing USDA-FNS with a road map to establish an objective definition of the adequacy of SNAP allotments and to assist with identification of data requirements to support that effort. Ultimately this effort is aimed at providing SNAP participants with greater opportunities to become more food secure and to have access to a healthy diet.
I am deeply appreciative of the dedication and effort of the 10 committee members who worked together over a short period of time from January to December 2012 to evaluate the evidence on the multiple factors that may be important in defining the adequacy of SNAP allotments. We received outstanding support in our work from Ann Yaktine, study director. I thank her for her knowledge, skill, and tireless care devoted to this project. As research associate, Julia Hoglund provided excellent scientific support to the project. Geraldine Kennedo served as administrative assistant with efficiency and warmth. I also appreciate the consultation provided by Gooloo Wunderlich, senior program officer with the Committee on National Statistics. Finally, I thank Linda Meyers, director of the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, for her wisdom in guiding the project.
Julie A. Caswell, Chair
Committee on Examination of the Adequacy
of Food Resources and SNAP Allotments