News Release: ERS Announces $1.4M in Research Grants to Improve Equitable Healthy Food Access in Partnership with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Contact: Ashley Murdie,

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2023 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced $1.4 million in new research aimed at improving equitable access to healthy food.

Collectively, this funding, provided by RWJF, gives 14 research institutions the opportunity to leverage restricted data from USDA’s Consumer Food Data System to expand research on food policy, food retail markets, consumer behaviors related to food purchases and diet and USDA’s nutrition assistance programs. The research will be completed by February 2025.

“By partnering with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to connect a diverse set of researchers with access to USDA’s Consumer Food Data System, we will enable new, expanded research in this field to help enhance future policy on food and health,” said ERS Administrator Spiro Stefanou.

Grant recipients include:

  • Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Michael C Lotspeich-Yadao and Jennifer McCaffrey): Using Journey-To-Work Data to Improve SNAP Participation Rates for Nonmetropolitan Socially Disadvantaged and Military Families.
  • Urban Institute (Jonathan Schwabish and Elaine Waxman): Understanding the Role of Federal and State Policy in Improving the Health and Nutritional Security of Consumers.
  • Tulane University (Augustine Denteh and Farah Khan): The Impact of SNAP Generosity on Nutrition, Health, and Food Insecurity.
  • Michigan State University (Craig W. Carpenter): The Effect of SNAP Policy on Labor Market and Health Outcomes.
  • Arkansas Children's Research Institute (Michael Thomsen): The Impact of Universal School Meals on Quality and Affordability of Food at Home.
  • Johns Hopkins University (Kate R. Schneider): Whose Diet Quality is Most at Risk when Food Prices Rise?
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Edward Iglesia and Danxia Yu): Consumer Burdens and Healthy Eating Patterns Among Households with Food Allergies.
  • Children’s Health Network Nebraska, Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition (Bailey Houghtaling):  Multi-Level Factors Shaping Fruit and Vegetable Purchases by Household Eligibility for Produce Prescription Programs: An Examination to Inform Policy.
  • Providence Health & Services, Oregon (Hannah Cohen-Cline): Are Tradeoffs Necessary for Health? How Medicaid Expansion Changed Food Purchasing Patterns for Low-Income Americans.
  • ASU Foundation for a New American University (Chinedum Ojinnaka and Jeffrey Wilson): Population-Level Determinants of SNAP Participation Patterns Among Residents of North And South Carolina.
  • Colorado State University (Rebecca Cleary and Megan Mueller): Achieving Racial Equity in Diet Quality and Diet-Related Disease.
  • University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. (Vibha Bhargava and Jung Sun Lee): Measuring Nutrition Security Using the Consumer Food Data System.
  • The George Washington University (Michael W. Long): Racialization, Class, And Migration: Intersectional Effects of Structural Discrimination on Child Access to WIC.
  • Drexel University (Brent Langellier): Consequences of Geographic Variation in Housing and Food Costs for SNAP Participants and Non-Participants.

ERS’ Consumer Food Data System (CFDS) is a collection of data from survey, administrative, and proprietary data sources used to inform national policy decisions on food consumption, diet quality, food security, and nutrition assistance programs.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is a philanthropic organization committed to improving health and health equity in the U.S. by partnering with others to identify, understand, confront, and remove structural barriers to public health and well-being. For more information, visit

The Economic Research Service (ERS) is USDA's principal social science research agency. ERS works to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America; and to conduct high-quality, objective, economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making. To learn more about ERS, visit Connect with ERS on LinkedIn and X (formerly known as Twitter) or subscribe for email updates.


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