“Now I Feel a Little Bit More Secure”: The Impact of SNAP Enrollment on Older Adult SSI Recipients
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.3390/nu13124362
In June 2019, California expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries for the first time. This research assesses the experience and impact of new SNAP enrollment among older adult SSI recipients, a population characterized by social and economic precarity. We conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 20 SNAP participants to explore their experiences with new SNAP benefits. Following initial coding, member-check groups allowed for participants to provide feedback on preliminary data analysis. Findings demonstrate that SNAP enrollment improved participants' access to nutritious foods of their choice, contributed to overall budgets, eased mental distress resulting from poverty, and reduced labor spent accessing food. For some participants, SNAP benefit amounts were too low to make any noticeable impact. For many participants, SNAP receipt was associated with stigma, which some considered to be a social "cost" of poverty. Increased benefit may be derived from pairing SNAP with other public benefits. Together, the impacts of and barriers to effective use of SNAP benefits gleaned from this study deepen our understanding of individual- and neighborhood-level factors driving health inequities among low-income, disabled people experiencing food insecurity and SNAP recipients.