The objective of the study was to determine relationship between neighborhood food store availability, store choice and food purchasing habits among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participating households. The study sample consisted of SNAP households (n=1581) and low income households participating in the USDA's National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) a nationally representative cross-sectional survey of American households with household food purchases and acquisitions data. Main Outcomes: 1) Food purchasing choices (sugar-sweetened beverages, fruits and vegetables, snacks, water, and milk) obtained from store receipts over a one-week period; 2) food shopping activities was obtained from a log book of where food was purchased over a one-week period. Key findings indicated those SNAP households within 1 mile of a supermarket had higher odds of shopping at a supermarket (2.05 OR [95% CI 1.34, 3.15]) compared to those without a supermarket. Shopping at a supermarket was associated with greater odds of purchasing water and low-calorie beverages (OR 1.69 [95% CI 1.12, 2.54]) and fruits and vegetables (OR 2.50 (95% CI 1.52, 4.11]) compared to not shopping at supermarket among SNAP households. Additionally, a fractional multinomial logit analysis (n=4,664) similarly found that close proximity to superstores or supermarkets increases the share of weekly food purchases made there, and that car access increases purchases made at restaurants while decreasing purchases made at other food shopping venues. Findings suggest that policies aiming to improve food purchasing habits among SNAP need to consider how to situate stores where SNAP households will choose to shop.

Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date


Discussion Paper Number

DP 2016-09

Notes/Citation Information

This project was supported through funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service and the Food Nutrition Service, Agreement Numbers 58-5000-1-0050 and 58-5000-3-0066. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the authors and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policies of the sponsoring agency. The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance and guidance from Jim Ziliak and the USDA ERS staff throughout the process.