Study finds that SNAP and WIC stores offer healthier food retail environment in low-income California neighborhoods

Dec 19, 2023

A recent study examined how stores' participation in federal assistance programs, such as Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program— commonly known as WIC and SNAP or CalFresh in California—influence the availability and quality of healthy foods in low-income California neighborhoods. The study assessed 731 convenience stores and small markets, and found that stores enrolled in both SNAP and WIC had greater availability of healthy food options and higher quality fresh produce compared to stores participating in neither program. Further, small markets more often carried a broader selection of high-quality fresh produce than convenience stores. The study findings suggest that implementing policies incentivizing store involvement in SNAP and WIC can improve access to healthy foods for low-income individuals. The study recently published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, was conducted by Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Richard Pulvera, Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Hannah Thompson, Wendi Gosliner, and Cindy Leung with the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. The authors thank the staff at the California Department of Public Health's Nutrition and Physical Activity Branch, local health department staff and participating stores, and Gail-Woodward Lopez.

By Brianna Aguayo Villalon
Author - Student Communications Fellow
By Danielle Lee
By Lorrene Ritchie
Editor - Director of Research
By Miranda Renee Westfall
Editor - Academic Coordinator
By Richard Pulvera
Editor - Research Data Analyst