There is formative legislation proposing to expand use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card to allow for online grocery store purchases. However, there are limited studies reporting SNAP recipients’ perceptions of online EBT shopping, particularly among those in highest need of such a program (ie, limited-income caregivers of young children who face multiple external barriers (eg, time and money) to supporting healthy eating and meal patterns for their families). Without this information, it will not be possible to develop and implement a fully optimized online EBT policy and program.
The main objective of this qualitative study is to explore the general and contextual (ie, within family mealtime routines) perceptions of an online EBT program among caregivers with children enrolled in Head Start.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
This focus group study is ongoing. Two were completed in fall 2019 and additional focus groups will be conducted in winter 2020 until saturation is met. Participants (n = 16) are primarily non-Hispanic Black (88%) and 100% female. Mean (SD) is 40.7 ± 15.5 years and median income is $42,302.
Main outcomes are general and contextual perceptions of online EBT shopping. Focus groups were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were independently coded by 2 researchers and analyzed for themes.
On average, focus groups lasted 75 minutes. A preliminary theme includes mixed awareness of grocery delivery/curbside pickup but with an overall positive perception. Two participants regularly participate in online delivery and find it very convenient. The majority of participants did not feel that online grocery shopping would improve healthy eating and most had reservations about others picking out fresh produce and meats. When asked about using SNAP benefit/EBT card to purchase food online, participants who receive it believe it would encourage them to use this program.
Results of this study will form the design of a future online EBT pilot study tailored to the needs of Head Start families.
Appendix. Supplementary data
© 2020 Published by Elsevier Inc.