Spawned during the Great Depression of the 1930s, federal food stamps targeted hunger and malnutrition among America’s poor families.

But a recent Agriculture Department study concluded that nine decades later, the recipients of SNAP, the latest version of federal food and nutrition assistance, face barriers that leave low-income Americans short.

“Overall, 88 percent of SNAP participants rereported some type of barrier to achieving a healthy diet throughout the month,” according to findings from a 2018 USDA study released just before the Fourth of July.

The agency found, from data collected in 2018, less than one-third of households that use SNAP are food secure and that 38 percent have low food security and 35 percent have very low food security.

Affordability of healthy food options have a strain on how SNAP recipients use their funds. Those who opt to use their SNAP funds for healthier food are more likely to use the majority of their funds within the first two weeks of the month and rely on using other assistance programs as well.

The researchers found that most SNAP recipients reported that affordability of nutritious food was the top barrier for their household.

Some of the barriers that affect SNAP recipients are nutritional food costs, proximity to a store and transportation.

The study also mentioned that SNAP recipients have adopted strategies in order to limit their barriers from having harsher impacts on their lifestyle. These strategies include stretching the food budget, gaining social support, and participating in community and government food assistance programs.

Most participants in the study said that using the strategy of stretching their food budget was the most common practice.

Aside from the environmental barriers, there are also household/individual barriers that the study defines as “those internal to a person’s circumstances.” This includes knowledge of nutrition, cooking skills, kitchen equipment/ cooking facilities. All of these factors can contribute to the access of healthy eating for SNAP recipients.

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