Opinion: Strengthening SNAP to improve health for children and families

November 18, 2022—As the largest federal food assistance program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) could be doing more to alleviate childhood obesity and diet-related diseases, according to a review co-authored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Jerold Mande.

The article, published November 14, 2022, offered three policy recommendations for improving SNAP’s effectiveness:

  • Expand SNAP’s core objectives beyond addressing food insecurity to include improving diet quality and nutrition.
  • Strengthen requirements for SNAP-authorized retailers to promote healthier food environments.
  • Pair incentives for purchasing healthy foods using SNAP with restrictions on purchasing unhealthy foods and sweetened beverages.

Mande, adjunct professor of nutrition, is CEO of Nourish Science and a former senior policymaker at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Read the review article: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as a health intervention