Publications

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  • Nearly 30 Percent of the Times That USDA SNAP Households Acquire Food, the Food Is Free

    Amber Waves, November 06, 2017

    SNAP participants report a higher share of free food acquisition events from schools and family and friends than low-income and higher income non-SNAP households.

  • USDA’s FoodAPS: Providing Insights Into U.S. Food Demand and Food Assistance Programs

    Amber Waves, August 16, 2017

    Data from a unique national survey provide a comprehensive picture of U.S. food acquisition patterns--both purchased foods and those acquired for free.

  • Where Households Get Food in a Typical Week: Findings from USDA’s FoodAPS

    EIB-156, July 27, 2016

    Understanding where U.S. households acquire food, what they acquire, and what they pay is essential to identifying which food and nutrition policies might improve diet quality. This report uses USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) to study where households acquired food during a 7-day period in 2012.

  • 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, March 23, 2015

    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.

    Errata: On September 13, 2016, ERS revised the categorization of households with members categorically eligible for WIC to exclude households where the only categorically eligible member was a child age 5. These children were incorrectly included previously; imputed income measures were also used as these measures became available since the report’s release; revised survey weights were also used to update all estimates in the report. Because of these changes, all of the estimates in the report have been revised. However, the results were not numerically or substantively different after these revisions were made, with one exception— the result that WIC participants were more likely to use supercenters as their primary store was no longer statistically significant. The text has been adjusted to reflect all of these changes.

    The results from EIB-138 were used in three ERS Charts of Note dated March 23, 2015; July 15, 2015; and August 11, 2015; and an Amber Waves feature article “Most U.S. Households Do Their Main Grocery Shopping at Supermarkets and Supercenters Regardless of Income,” dated August 3, 2015. For all but the August 11, 2015, Chart of Note, changes in estimates were not numerically or substantively different. In the August 11, 2015, Chart of Note, the difference between WIC participants’ and nonparticipants’ choice of supercenters as their primary stores was no longer statistically significant.

  • Restricting Sugar-Sweetened Beverages From SNAP Purchases Not Likely To Lower Consumption

    Amber Waves, March 02, 2015

    To reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, some policymakers and nutrition advocates argue that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits should not be allowed to be used for purchasing these beverages.

  • Less Eating Out, Improved Diets, and More Family Meals in the Wake of the Great Recession

    Amber Waves, March 04, 2014

    Between 2005 and 2010, Americans experienced large changes in employment and income that affected their food expenditures and intake. Once demographic characteristics unrelated to the Great Recession are controlled for, food-away-from-home (FAFH) calories among working-age adults declined about 15 percent, while the number of meals and snacks from FAFH declined 12 percent.

  • Changes in Eating Patterns and Diet Quality Among Working-Age Adults, 2005-2010

    ERR-161, January 16, 2014

    Survey data show diet quality improvements from 2005 to 2010 among working-age adults, with changes in intake of calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, and fiber, and fewer meals outside the home.

  • What Role Do Food and Beverage Prices Have on Diet and Health Outcomes?

    Amber Waves, September 20, 2012

    Factors in consumer response to price changes include income, size of the price change, availability of substitutes, and expected length of price changes. See this and other features in September Amber Waves.

  • What Role Do Food and Beverage Prices Have in Childhood Obesity?

    Amber Waves, June 05, 2012

    Price increases for some high-calorie foods and beverages were found to have small but statistically significant effects on children's BMI, and in the direction expected. Comparing the effects with the expected average growth in children's BMI over a year reveals a possibly large effect over time.

  • The Effect of Food and Beverage Prices on Children's Weights

    ERR-118, June 30, 2011

    ERS estimates the effect of prices of various foods on children's Body Mass Index (BMI), using price variation across time and geographic areas.

  • Geographic Differences in the Relative Price of Healthy Foods

    EIB-78, June 27, 2011

    Although healthy foods can be affordable, individuals may have an economic incentive to consume a less healthful diet if less healthy foods are relatively cheaper. ERS examines whether healthy foods generally cost more than less healthy options and whether price differences vary across the country.

  • Choosing Healthy Foods Is More Challenging for Teens

    Amber Waves, March 14, 2011

    Caloric increases from food away from home and foods from school for 13-18 year olds likely reflect an increased availability of many types of foods in middle and high schools, including a la carte side dishes and desserts.

  • How Food Away From Home Affects Children's Diet Quality

    ERR-104, October 04, 2010

    Compared with meals and snacks prepared at home, food prepared away from home increases caloric intake of children, especially older children. Among older children, food away from home also lowers their daily diet quality.

  • New Database Shows Substantial Geographic Food Price Variation

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    Food prices vary across the United States, but until now, a data set that provides a consistent and statistically detailed measure of food prices across geographic markets did not exist.

  • Post Welfare Reform, the Poorest Children Receive Lower Benefits

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2010

    Welfare reform brought sweeping changes to Federal assistance programs. An ERS report indicates that the current “safety net” has gaps, particularly for children in the poorest households. On average, total household resources for children in the poorest households declined from 1990 to 2004.

  • Eating Out Increases Daily Calorie Intake

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2010

    Among all meals eaten outside the home, lunch has the largest impact on the average adult, adding 158 calories to daily intake, compared with lunch prepared at home. Eating dinner out increases intake by 144 calories. Each away-from-home snack adds just over 100 calories to daily intake. Breakfast away from home adds 74 calories.

  • Methodology Behind the Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database

    TB-1926, April 22, 2010

    The Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database (QFAHPD) was developed to provide market-level food prices that can be used to study how prices affect food choices, intake, and health outcomes. This report presents a detailed description of the methodology used to construct the QFAHPD. The database, constructed from 1999-2006 Nielsen Homescan data, includes quarterly observations on the mean price of 52 food categories for 35 market groups covering the contiguous United States. Data from 2006 indicate that cross-market price variation can be as much as three to four times greater than annual food price inflation.

  • Changing Participation in Food Assistance Programs Among Low-Income Children After Welfare Reform

    ERR-92, February 19, 2010

    In 1996, the safety net for poor households with children fundamentally changed when Federal legislation replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This study investigates participation in, and benefits received from, AFDC/TANF and food assistance programs, before and after the legislation, for children in low-income households (income below 300 percent of the Federal poverty line). The results show that, between 1990 and 2004, the share of children receiving food stamp benefits declined, most notably among children in the poorest households (income below 50 percent of the Federal poverty line). The share of children receiving benefits from the school meals programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) rose, mainly among children in low-income households with income above the Federal poverty line. Overall, the share of children in households that received benefits from AFDC/TANF or food assistance programs grew from 35 percent to 52 percent. However, the net result of these changes is that average total inflation-adjusted household benefits from all programs examined declined. The decline was largest among children in the poorest households.

  • The Impact of Food Away From Home on Adult Diet Quality

    ERR-90, February 16, 2010

    Consumption data show that for the average adult, meals away from home have an impact on daily caloric intake and diet quality.

  • Use of Nutrition Labels Declining, Especially Among Young Adults

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2008

    According to recent ERS analyses, use of nutrition labels and health claims on food packages declined between 1995 and 2005. The decline was greater among adults 20 to 29 years old than other groups of U.S. consumers.