Mark Prell

Senior Economist


Mark Prell is a Senior Economist in the Food Assistance Branch of ERS’s Food Economics Division. The work of the branch covers four themes: (1) USDA food assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the school meals programs (the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs); (2) food security, including its measurement, and the determinants and consequences of its counterpart, food insecurity; (3) the statistical use of administrative records and linked data to promote research; and (4) food access. Prell’s work has focused on the food assistance programs and promoting the statistical use of administrative and linked data. Mark serves as a member of the Federal Committee of Statistical Methodology (FCSM), which the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) created to inform and advise OMB and heads of statistical agencies on methodological and statistical issues that affect the quality of Federal data.


Mark served in various roles at ERS between 1999 and the present. Mark served as an Assistant Deputy Director from 1999 to 2003, and as Food Assistance Branch Chief from 2003 to 2010. Mark served as the Acting Branch Chief between 2019 and 2021, first for the Food Assistance Branch and then for the Diet, Safety, and Health Economics Branch. Prior to joining ERS, he taught economics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels for a dozen years. For five years, Mark was co-owner and manager of Global Awards, Inc., a family-owned company that provided regalia for college graduations depicting the national colors and symbols of each country.


Mark received a Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T. and a B.A. in Economics and Government (double-major) from the College of William and Mary.

Professional Affiliations

Mark is a member of the American Statistical Association.

Selected Publications

Mark’s areas of interest span the range of food assistance programs and issues. For a study that related the national prevalence of food security to changes in benefits provided by SNAP, he worked with Mark Nord on the ERS report Food Security Improved Following the 2009 ARRA Increase in SNAP Benefits. He considers his most profound contribution in WIC to be research, the program’s infant formula rebate program and infant formula retail prices. The ERS publication Infant Formula Prices and Availability: A Final Report to Congress is one outcome of this work In the area of administrative and integrated data, he led a cross-agency collaboration that resulted in the FCSM report Transparent Reporting for Integrated Data Quality: Practices of Seven Federal Statistical Agencies.