Shana Wright and Blanca Meléndrez partnered with the Nutrition Policy Institute of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Division, ideas42, and the Teachers College of Columbia University to study the feasibility and response to a food and nutrition text message campaign for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in San Diego County. We assessed the feasibility of, and program satisfaction and outcomes resulting from, the County of San Diego, Self-Sufficiency Services is the SNAP administering agency sending monthly food and nutrition education SMS text messages to all SNAP participants to increase local, seasonal fruit, and vegetable purchasing and consumption. We developed and sent 5 behavioral science-informed SMS text messages with links to a project website, Eat CA, in English and Spanish with information about selecting, storing, and preparing seasonal fruits and vegetables. The County of San Diego, Self-Sufficiency Services sent monthly texts to ~170,000 SNAP households from October 2020 to February 2021. After the intervention, matched participants reported a significant increase in knowing where to get information about selecting, storing, and preparing fruits and vegetables, feeling good about participating in SNAP, and thinking the CalFresh program helps them eat healthily. No significant pre or post-differences were found in fruit or vegetable consumption, though most participants at follow-up reported their consumption had increased. SNAP can feasibly provide food and nutrition messages via text to participants. A monthly text campaign was well received by responding participants and improved some measures of their self-reported knowledge, self-efficacy, produce consumption, and perceptions of SNAP participation. Participants expressed interest in continuing to receive texts. After the initial pilot phase, we continued to create monthly text message content with the addition of messages in Arabic in July 2021. The County of San Diego, Self-Sufficiency Services has continued to send monthly text messages to SNAP recipients. While educational messages will not solve the complex food and nutrition challenges confronting SNAP participants, further work should employ rigorous methods to expand and test this intervention in other SNAP programs before considering implementing it at scale.
Read the full study below.
Eat CA – SNAP Study 2023 PDF