Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the United States' largest government assistance program that aims to alleviate food insecurity. The SNAP program allows low-income individuals and families the ability to purchase nutritious foods through a monthly benefit. However, the current body of literature presents evidence of the program's counterproductive effect. The purpose of this study was to determine whether incentivizing SNAP recipients to purchase additional fruits and vegetables was beneficial in increasing such purchases. Social cognitive theory was used as a theoretical framework to address research questions associated with shopping patterns and attitudes and beliefs. This quantitative study used a randomized controlled trial to study differences between incentivized and control groups. The Healthy Incentives Pilot Program (HIP) used a stratified sampling of 55,095 SNAP households receiving benefits between July, 2011, and December, 2012. Statistical analyses (t test, Pearson correlation, and multiple regression analysis) were conducted to identify changes in food shopping patterns and eating behaviors associated with the HIP intervention. Results indicated that (a) incentivizing SNAP recipients leads to an increase in fruit and vegetable purchase, and (b) a correlation exists between fruit and vegetable purchase and attitudes and beliefs. No correlation was found between the intervention and changes in food shopping patterns. Positive social change implications include the improvement of health outcomes in over 43 million people currently enrolled in the SNAP program on a national level.