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Nutrients ; 14(21)2022 Oct 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2090295


This study aims to describe reasons for discontinuing participation and experiences participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. We analyzed data from a cross-sectional online survey distributed to a national sample, restricted to (1) households that discontinued participating in SNAP (n = 146) or WIC (n = 149) during the pandemic and (2) households that participated in SNAP (n = 501) or WIC (n = 141) during spring 2021-approximately one year into the pandemic. We conducted thematic analyses of open-ended survey questions and descriptive statistics for Likert-scale items. Themes raised by respondents who discontinued participating in SNAP or WIC included difficulty recertifying and virus exposure concerns. Former WIC participants reported the program was not worth the effort and former SNAP participants reported failing to requalify. Respondents participating in WIC or SNAP during the pandemic mentioned transportation barriers and insufficient benefit value. WIC participants had trouble redeeming benefits in stores and SNAP participants desired improved online grocery purchasing experiences. These results suggest that enhancements to WIC and SNAP, such as expanded online purchasing options, program flexibilities, and benefit increases, can improve program participation to ensure access to critical nutrition supports, especially during emergencies.

COVID-19 , Food Assistance , Child , Infant , Humans , Female , Pandemics , Food Supply , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Poverty