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P26 Food-Related Decision Patterns Among SNAP Participants in Mississippi

      Background

      While food assistance programs in the US have collectively shifted from a primary focus on food provision to include an emphasis on diet quality, insight from program participants may shed light on ways to improve nutritional impacts.

      Objective

      The objective of the current study was to qualitatively explore food-related decision patterns among SNAP recipients in Mississippi.

      Study Design, Settings, Participants

      Focus groups (n = 18) were conducted with 127 low-income female caregivers of children under the age of 18. The Health Belief Model was used as a guide to assess food-related decision patterns. Cluster sampling was used to randomly recruit participants from the four regional divisions of Mississippi State University Extension for participation in the study.

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      Audio recorded focus groups were transcribed verbatim and coded by two independent researchers using thematic analysis.

      Results

      Drivers of food selection among participants often overlapped with barriers to healthy eating. Participants used many strategies to manage food costs and viewed healthy foods as out of reach and quick to perish. Cost, taste preferences, habits, and lifestyle/family factors were primary drivers of food selection and preparation; each of these areas presented barriers to healthy eating. Health issues were most often shared as a driver of food selection once disease was established. Participants reported a variety of strategies used in striving for healthier eating.

      Conclusion

      SNAP participants in Mississippi report a variety of strategies for managing food costs and striving for healthier eating, while also reporting barriers. Focusing on ways to manage costs of healthy foods, honor taste preferences, and work within lifestyle/family contexts may enhance efforts to support healthy eating in this audience.
      Funding: SNAP-Ed.

      Appendix. Supplementary data