Availability of Foods and Beverages in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Authorized Dollar Stores in a Region of North Carolina.
BACKGROUND: There are >25,000 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-authorized dollar stores throughout the United States; many are located in lower-income neighborhoods and provide an accessible food and beverage source for area residents. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this research was to determine the percent of food deserts within 16 counties in North Carolina that include a SNAP dollar store; examine the types of foods and beverages at SNAP dollar stores in these counties; test whether the foods and beverages offered vary by SNAP dollar store chain; and test whether the foods and beverages available differ by rural and urban location. DESIGN: This cross-sectional study used a combination of publicly available data and primary data to investigate the research questions. Secondary data sources were obtained from the US Department of Agriculture's SNAP retailer locator, the US Census, and the US Department of Agriculture's Food Access Research Atlas. Availability of foods and beverages was assessed among a sample of 90 SNAP dollar stores in 16 counties in southern and western sections of North Carolina. Data were collected in June 2014. RESULTS: About half (52%) of the food deserts in the research area included a SNAP dollar store. Most of the sampled stores sold healthier food staples, such as frozen meats, brown rice, 100% whole-wheat bread, and dried beans. None of the stores sold fresh fruits or vegetables. Some of the foods and beverages offered (eg, frozen fruit, frozen unseasoned vegetables, nonfat or low-fat milk, frozen ground beef) varied by SNAP dollar store chain. The foods and beverages offered did not differ by rural or urban county location. CONCLUSIONS: SNAP dollar stores offer a number of healthy food staples; however, they do not sell fresh fruits or vegetables. Further food environment research should include dollar stores.
Racine, EF; Batada, A; Solomon, CA; Story, M
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