SNAP participants' purchasing patterns at a food co-op during the COVID-19 pandemic
A preliminary analysis
Keywords:Nutrition Incentive Programs, Food System, Food Insecurity, Fruits, Vegetables, SNAP, COVID-19, Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the food system, increasing barriers to food access and exacerbating food insecurity across the U.S. The Virginia state government initiated a stay-at-home order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, the Virginia Fresh Match (VFM) Nutrition Incentive Network partnered with food retail outlets to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants point-of-purchase incentives (e.g., Double Up Food Bucks, SNAP Match), which function as matching discounts on fresh fruits and vegetables (F/V). These can enable participants to increase their purchasing power and potentially reduce food insecurity. In response to COVID-19, VFM removed the limit on incentive discounts (previously $10) to further incentivize the purchase of fresh F/V by SNAP participants. This study sought to characterize the purchasing patterns of SNAP participants at a food co-operative (co-op) partnered with VFM before and during the Virginia stay-at-home order. A total of 654 transactions at the co-op were included. Independent t-tests were utilized to determine differences before and during the order. The results indicated a significant increase in the mean incentive discount received during the order (pre-shutdown=$3.95, inter-shutdown=$5.01, p=0.035); however, simultaneously there was a decrease in the mean number of fresh F/V purchased (pre-shutdown=3.08, inter-shutdown=2.39, p=0.015). Although F/V purchases decreased, the presence of unlimited point-of-purchase incentives at the food co-op may have helped prevent a greater decline in fresh F/V purchases and helped increase access to fresh F/V in this population during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 All currency in this paper is US$.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 The Authors
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The copyright to all content published in JAFSCD belongs to the author(s). It is licensed as CC BY 4.0. This license determines how you may reprint, copy, distribute, or otherwise share JAFSCD content.