Leslie Hodges

Research Agricultural Economist


Leslie Hodges is a Research Agricultural Economist with the Food Assistance Branch of the Food Economics Division. She conducts research to inform evidence-based policymaking on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).


Leslie’s research centers on how Federal programs, including food and nutrition assistance programs, contribute to the economic well-being of families and children. She has contributed to a series of projects on health care utilization and health outcomes among SNAP and Medicaid participants and to research on the child support program, including barriers to employment and non-payment of child support. More recently, her research has focused on key WIC policy issues including program participation and retention, online ordering, and WIC’s role in the infant formula market. Leslie is a member of the National WIC Association Evaluation Committee and co-chair of the WIC Learning Collaborative.


Before joining ERS in 2020, Leslie completed a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She holds a Ph.D. in public affairs from the University of Missouri – Columbia, an M.A. in political science from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a B.A. in English from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.

Selected Publications

Hodges, L., C. Lowery, P. Patel, J. McInnis, and Q. Zhang. 2023. “A Systematic Review of Marketing Practices Used in Online Grocery Shopping: Implications for WIC Online Ordering,” Nutrients, 15: 446. doi:10.3390/nu15020446

Lora, K.R., L. Hodges, C. Ryan, M. Ver Ploeg, and J. Guthrie. 2023. “Factors That Influence Children’s Exits from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children: A Systematic Review.” Nutrients, 15: 766. doi:10.3390/nu15030766

Thoma, M., D. De Silva, J. Kim, L. Hodges, and J. Guthrie. 2023. “Breastfeeding Initiation Trends by Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children Participation and Race/Ethnicity among Medicaid Births.” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2022.09.006

Ojinnaka, C.O., A. Arteaga, L. Hodges, and C. Heflin. 2023. “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation and Medication Adherence among Medicaid-Insured Older Adults Living with Hypertension.” Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Heflin, C., L. Hodges, I. Arteaga, and C.O. Ojinnaka. 2022. “Churn in the Older Adult SNAP population,” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy.

Heflin, C., I. Arteaga, L. Hodges, F. Ndashimye, and M.P. Rabbitt. 2019. “SNAP Benefits and Childhood Asthma,” Social Science and Medicine 220:203–211.