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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

NYU: Disclosure of SNAP Data Can Help Improve Public Health Outcomes

A commentary piece by Dr. Jennifer L. Pomeranz, assistant professor in public health policy and management with New York University College of Global Public Health, was published in the American Journal of Public Health titled “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Data: Why Disclosure Is Needed.”

This article explains why disclosure is needed for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides funding to low-income households to purchase food at participating stores. The goals of the program include reducing hunger, improving nutrition, and strengthening the U.S. food system. These are interrelated, as food access and choice depend on availability.

SNAP generates data that could be useful for program evaluation and evidence-based policymaking to reach public health goals. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not collect or disclose all SNAP-related data. In particular, the USDA does not systematically collect food expenditure data, and although it does collect transaction (sales) and redemption data (the amount retailers are reimbursed through SNAP), it does not release these data at the store level.

In 2018, Congress quietly changed the law to prohibit the USDA from disclosing store-level transaction and redemption data, and in 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked disclosure of these data. These federal proceedings can inform the outcome of additional efforts to disclose SNAP-related data, as well as future research and policy evaluation to support improved public health outcomes for SNAP beneficiaries.

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