Michele Ver Ploeg

Branch Chief
Google Scholar profile


Michele (Shelly) Ver Ploeg is Chief of the Food Assistance Branch in the Food Economics Division. Shelly is responsible for managing and directing research on USDA’s domestic food and nutrition assistance programs including SNAP (formerly food stamps), school feeding programs, and WIC. Shelly has conducted research on how food assistance programs and the environment in which they operate affect food consumption and dietary outcomes of low-income individuals and families. She led a Congressionally-mandated study on access to affordable and nutritious foods and conducted research on the extent and consequences of limited store access.


Shelly joined the Economic Research Service in October 2004. Prior to joining ERS, she was a study director for the Committee on National Statistics at The National Academies.


Shelly has a Ph.D. in Policy Analysis and Management from Cornell University and a B.A. in Economics from Central College.

Professional Affiliations

  • Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
  • American Statistical Association
  • Agricultural and Applied Economics Association

Selected Publications

Rhone, Alana, Michele Ver Ploeg, Chris Dicken, Ryan Williams, and Vince Breneman. Low-Income and Low-Supermarket-Access Census Tracts, 2010-2015, EIB-165, USDA, Economic Research Service, January 2017.

Ver Ploeg, Michele, Lisa Mancino, Jessica E. Todd, Dawn Marie Clay, and Benjamin Scharadin. 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. EIB-138, USDA, Economic Research Service, March, 2015.

Ver Ploeg, Michele, Paula Dutko, and Vince Breneman, "Measuring Food Access and Food Deserts for Policy Purposes," Applied Economic Policy and Perspectives, 37(2): 205-25, November, 2014.

Todd, Jessica and Michele Ver Ploeg, "Caloric Beverage Intake among Adult Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participants," American Journal of Public Health, 104(9): e80-e85, September 2014.

Gregory, Christian, Michele Ver Ploeg, Margaret Andrews, and Alisha Coleman-Jensen. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation Leads to Modest Changes in Diet Quality. ERR-147, USDA, Economic Research Service, April, 2013.

Ver Ploeg, Michele, and others. Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences, Report to Congress. USDA, Economic Research Service, June, 2009.

Ver Ploeg, Michele and Constance F. Citro, "Poverty Measurement: Orshansky's Original Measures and the Development of Alternatives", Review of Agricultural Economics, 30(3): 581-90, 2008.

Ver Ploeg, M. and D. Betson (eds). "Estimating Eligibility and Participation for the WIC Program: Final Report," Report of the Panel to Evaluate the USDAs Methodology for Estimating Eligibility for and Participation in the WIC Program, (Edited with David Betson), National Academies Press, 2003.

Ver Ploeg, M. "Pre-Exit Benefit Receipt and Employment Histories and Post-Exit Outcomes of Welfare Leavers," in Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. (R.A. Moffitt and C.F. Citro, eds.), Washington, DC: National Academy Press, January 2002.

Ver Ploeg, M. "Children from Disrupted Families as Adults: Family Structure and College Completion," Economics of Education Review 21(2002).

Moffitt, R.A. and M. Ver Ploeg (eds) "Evaluating Welfare Reform in an Era of Transition," Report of the Panel on Data and Methods for Measuring the Effects of Changes in Social Welfare Programs, National Academies Press, 2001.