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Participant voices: examining issue, program and policy priorities of SNAP-Ed eligible adults in California

  • Wendi Gosliner (a1) and Heena Shah (a1)

Abstract

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) aims to prevent obesity and chronic disease among SNAP-eligible families by facilitating healthy eating and active living. This study aimed to capture the voices of California SNAP-Ed eligible parents to inform program planners of their challenges in feeding their families, their available supports and priorities for intervention. We conducted eight focus groups with 55 participants across five counties in California from May through August 2017. Trained researchers used Dedoose to code and analyze data for substantive themes and overarching findings.Ten key findings and 4 additional findings were identified. Participants experience multiple challenges, primarily inadequate income and limited access to high quality, affordable healthy food contrasted with easy access to affordable unhealthy food. Despite efforts to manage food resources, most struggle to afford adequate diets. Employed parents confront a particularly challenging dual poverty of money and time. Many parents report feeling guilt related to feeding their children. Participants appreciate available programs and services and suggest increasing community input; providing sustainable programs; lowering the cost of and improving access to healthy food; reducing access to unhealthy food; modifying food assistance efforts; and improving nutrition education and promotion. Overall, low-income parents in California struggle to feed their families the way they would like. Participants generally understand what to feed their children, but struggle with how to do it, perceiving their circumstances and environments as inhospitable to healthy eating. Participants' suggestions can help SNAP-Ed programs and other efforts better support families' needs.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Wendi Gosliner, E-mail: wgosliner@ucanr.edu

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