Expanding Online Retail in Federal Nutrition Programs: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants in federal nutrition programs including SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) could not use benefits for online grocery transactions, with the exception of a few retailers in an eight-state USDA SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot. In response to the pandemic, USDA provided waivers and flexibilities for SNAP and WIC, expanded the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot to 47 states, and announced a new grant to develop and test online purchasing in WIC. In September 2020, Healthy Eating Research funded research to examine the impact of these policy changes on benefit redemption, food access, and diet quality. This session will present findings from these projects, as well as share ways RDNs can strengthen program participants’ food and nutrition digital literacy knowledge and skills in order to better align online purchasing with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Summarize the state of the current research evidence on the influence of expanding online purchasing within SNAP and WIC on benefit redemption, food access, and diet quality during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Identify remaining research questions, gaps and evidence that are key to the equitable expansion of online purchasing in SNAP and WIC.
- List several ways registered dietitian nutritionists can strengthen food and nutrition digital literacy knowledge and skills among program recipients who utilize online purchasing platforms to promote a healthy diet that aligns with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- 12.1.1 Promotes nutrition programs and resources to address issues of food security, nutritional health and overall health and wellness.
- 6.2.5 Applies research/evidence-based findings to improve practice, service delivery, and health and nutrition of customers.
- 9.3.2 Develops and/or selects a variety of learning activities based on a plan of action and outcomes, and the needs of the individual, group, community and population.
Megan Lott, MPH, RDN
Deputy Director, Healthy Eating Research
Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University
Harry Zhang, PhD
Old Dominion University
Alyssa Moran, ScD, MPH, RDN
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Vivica Kraak, PhD, MS, RDN
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)