Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural Economics

Committee Chair

Bhagyashree Katare

Committee Member 1

James K. Binkley

Committee Member 2

Regan L. Bailey


The objective of this research is to understand the effects of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on adult participants’ diet quality. We use National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2007–2014 to compare diet quality and food choices between current SNAP participants and non-current participants. The overall diet quality measures include the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010), energy density, and a nutrition index. We also consider HEI-2010 components to evaluate several important aspects of diet quality, including whole grains, various types of vegetables and fruits, dairy, and protein etc. The food choice analysis compares food intakes between current and non-current participants in regard to “junk food”, milk, and cereals. We separate food-at-home (FAH) from food-away-from-home (FAFH) in the analysis to better understand the effects of SNAP. To address selection bias, we employ propensity score matching to select comparison groups of SNAP participants. Current participants are defined as individuals who have reported receiving SNAP benefits in the past 30 days. We choose three groups of non-current participants: recent participants who were receiving SNAP in the past 12 months but not in the previous 30 days; past participants who were receiving SNAP during the past years but not in the previous 12 months; and never participants, the low-income adults who have income to poverty ratio lower or equal to 1.85 (Ver Ploeg et al. 2015) but have never participated in SNAP. Our results show that SNAP has no obvious effect on adult participants’ diet quality in terms of the overall diet quality measures. However, we observe that current participants consume foods with more protein than non-current participants for FAH. In addition, SNAP also has little effect on current participants’ food choices regarding “junk food”, milk, and cereals.