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Research Topics

ERS and external researchers are actively involved in rigorous research using FoodAPS data to examine food demand relationships that previously could not be investigated in detail because the requisite data did not exist. A list of published research and work in progress follows:

Published research

WIC Households' Food Purchases Using WIC Benefits and Paying Out of Pocket: A Case Study of Cold Cereal Purchasesby Diansheng Dong, Hayden Stewart, Elizabeth Frazão, Andrea Carlson, and Jeffrey Hyman, ERS. WIC households incur no cost for WIC-approved foods, and economic theory suggests that they may be less sensitive to prices when using WIC benefits than when paying out of pocket. ERS examines this assumption in a case study of WIC households' choices in purchasing cold cereals.

Where Do Americans Usually Shop for Food and How Do They Travel To Get There? Initial Findings from the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey—by Michele Ver Ploeg, Lisa Mancino, and Jessica E. Todd, ERS. This report compares food shopping patterns of (1) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households to nonparticipant households, (2) participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) to nonparticipants, and (3) food-insecure to food-secure households.

On March 31, 2015, ERS hosted a webinar: First Findings from USDA's FoodAPS that provided an overview of FoodAPS and this report (see Connect & Explore: First Findings from USDA’s FoodAPS).

Work in progress

Grants and cooperative agreements


In 2014, the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research (UKCPR), in cooperation with ERS, awarded 12 research grants to qualified individuals and institutions to utilize FoodAPS data to expand our understanding of household food behaviors and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). For more information about these projects, see Grant Awards.

Cooperative agreements

The Effect of SNAP on Food Purchases on the Quality and Timing of Household Food Purchases—Timothy Beatty (PI), University of California, Davis, and Charlotte Tuttle, ERS.

Demand for Healthy Food Away from Home (FAFH) by Individuals with Low Food Access—Dave Weatherspoon (PI) and Andrea Marie Leschewski, Michigan State University, and Timothy Park, ERS.

FoodAPS Data Quality and Usability—Edward Jaenicke (PI) and Benjamin Scharadin, Pennsylvania State University, and Jessica Todd, ERS.

Maximizing the SNAP Benefit through Optimizing Food Acquisitions—Mary Zaki (PI), University of Maryland, and Jessica Todd, ERS.

Heterogeneity in SNAP Benefit Redemption: Causes and Characteristics—Travis A. Smith (PI), Jeff Dorfman, Chen Zhen, Pourya Valizadeh, Zhongyuan Liu, Ran Huo, and Wenying Li, University of Georgia.

FoodAPS Geography Study—Parke Wilde, Tufts University, and Craig Gundersen, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

The Salient Features of the Local Food Retail Environment for Low-Income Americans in FoodAPS—Parke Wilde and Abigail Steiner, Tufts University, and Michele Ver Ploeg, ERS.

Independent external research

Food Assistance and Child Hunger—Allison J. Tracy (PI), Alice Frye, and Amanda Richer, Wellesley Centers for Women, and Duke Storen, Share Our Strength.

The Influence of the Food Environment on Childhood Obesity—Sara Bleich (PI), Kelly Bower, Rachel Johnson Thornton, and Julia Wolfson, Johns Hopkins University.

Examining Relationships between Measures of the Neighborhood Food Environment and Household Shopping and Purchasing Behaviors—Timothy Barnes (PI), Simone French, and David Van Riper, University of Minnesota.

Habit Formation and the Persistent Impact of WIC—David Frisvold (PI) and Emily Leslie, University of Iowa.

Income, Geography, and Nutrition Decisions: An Economic Model—Hunt Allcott (PI), New York University, Rebecca Diamond, Stanford University, and Jean-Pierre Dubèe, University of Chicago.

Assessing the Impact of Food Restrictions under SNAP on Food Choice by Children and Families—Chen Zhen (PI), University of Georgia, Shawn Karns and David Chrest, Research Triangle Institute (RTI), and Biing-Hwan Lin, ERS.

Exploring FoodAPS Data for SNAP and WIC—Sangeetha Malaiyandi (PI), Danielle Berman, Wesley Dean, and Dennis Ranalli, Food and Nutrition Service, USDA.

Bringing the Food Environment Home: The Effect of a Systematically Measured Food Environment on Parent Choices and Childhood Obesity—Wen You (PI), Jackie Yenerall, and Jennie Hill, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and Biing-Hwan Lin, ERS.

Food Shopping Access Barriers of Residents of Food Desserts: Are They Real and Are They Modified by Rurality, Income, and Food Assistance?—Angela Liese (PI), Bethany Bell, and Xiaonan Ma, University of South Carolina.

Influences on Fruit and Vegetable Acquisition: An Examination of the Community Food Environment, Household Purchase Behaviors, Psychosocial Attributes, and SNAP Status—Bethany Bell (PI), Angela Liese, and Xiaonan Ma, University of South Carolina.

Institute of Medicine (IOM) Review of Food Packages—Helen Jensen (PI), Hocheol Jeon, Iowa State University.

Examining How Consumers Respond to Price Changes in Groceries versus Restaurants: A Natural Experiment from Food Tax Exemption—Yuqing Zhen (PI) and Shaheer Burney, University of Kentucky, and Diansheng Dong, ERS.

Last updated: Tuesday, May 17, 2016

For more information contact: John A. Kirlin and Elina Tselepidakis