Publications

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  • 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.

  • The Food-Spending Patterns of Households Participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Findings From USDA's FoodAPS

    EIB-176, August 16, 2017

    USDA's FoodAPS survey provides unique and comprehensive data to explore the food-spending patterns of SNAP households.

  • States Differ in the Distribution of WIC Benefits Across Types of Retail Food Stores

    Amber Waves, August 01, 2016

    A recent ERS study found that 76 percent of WIC benefits redeemed in stores in fiscal 2012 were redeemed at supermarkets, supercenters, or other large grocery stores. Other types of stores, such as medium and small grocery stores and WIC-only stores, accounted for a sizable share of WIC redemptions in some States.

  • Where Do WIC Participants Redeem Their Food Benefits? An Analysis of WIC Food Dollar Redemption Patterns by Store Type

    EIB-152, April 28, 2016

    This report examines the distribution of WIC store types and dollar redemptions and compares the share of WIC versus SNAP redemptions at large stores in FY 2012 as a rough measure of WIC participants' price sensitivity.

  • 2014 Farm Act Maintains SNAP Eligibility Guidelines and Funds New Initiatives

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    The Agricultural Act of 2014 maintains SNAP’s basic eligibility guidelines and includes provisions designed to encourage SNAP recipients to choose healthy foods and to build the skills needed to increase their employment options. Other provisions aim to improve the food environment at schools and in low-income communities.

  • USDA’s Food Assistance Programs: Legacies of the War on Poverty

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2014

    USDA’s food and nutrition assistance programs—many of which were conceived half a century ago—are still some of the Federal Government’s most important means of fighting poverty and improving the economic well-being of needy Americans.

  • SNAP Benefits Alleviate the Intensity and Incidence of Poverty

    Amber Waves, June 05, 2012

    Adding SNAP benefits to family income reduces the poverty rate and leads to even greater reductions in depth and severity of poverty, particularly among children. The antipoverty effect of SNAP was especially strong in 2009, when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act increased SNAP benefits levels.

  • Alleviating Poverty in the United States: The Critical Role of SNAP Benefits

    ERR-132, April 09, 2012

    ERS calculated the anti-poverty effects of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - formerly called Food Stamps) using three measures: prevalence, depth, and severity of poverty. Get Report Summary and blog posting

  • WIC Participation Patterns: An Investigation of Delayed Entry & Early Exit

    ERR-109, December 28, 2010

    Despite the health benefits of participation, many eligible households do not participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). While roughly half of infants born in the United States receive WIC benefits, USDA statistics indicate that eligible pregnant women and children 1-5 years of age are far less likely to participate in WIC than eligible infants and postpartum women. This implies that a number of pregnant women delay enrollment until after having a child, and that many households leave the program when a participating child turns 1 year old. Research on the factors that influence the dynamics of WIC participation can inform outreach and targeting efforts, so that vulnerable populations receive adequate exposure to the benefits of WIC participation.

  • WIC Infants Less Likely To Be Exclusively Breastfed

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2010

    ERS and American University researchers found that women who participate in WIC are less likely than income-eligible nonparticipants to exclusively breastfeed their newborns. WIC mothers are also more likely to adhere to the AAP recommendation that cow’s milk be introduced no earlier than 12 months of age.

  • Stabilizing Federal Support for Emergency Food Providers

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2008

    Through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), USDA supplies a variety of commodities and funds to States, who in turn provide them to food banks and other emergency food providers. USDA commodities account for nearly 14 percent of food distributed by emergency food providers. The 2008 Farm Act provides an immediate funding boost of $50 million and inflation-adjusted increases in funding through 2012.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program: Executive Summaries of 2003 Research Grants

    FANRR-43, December 13, 2004

    This report summarizes research findings for the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program. This report includes summaries of the research projects that were awarded 1-year grants in summer and fall 2002. The projects focus on food assistance and child well-being, food insecurity and hunger, the dynamics of food assistance program participation, obesity, and the role of community factors in dietary intake and food security. Some projects focus on specific populations, such as people living in the rural South and on American Indian reservations.

  • Emergency Providers Help Poor Households Put Food on the Table

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2004

    In 2003, USDA spent $41.7 billion on 15 food assistance programs aimed at improving the nutrition and well-being of needy Americans. The Food Stamp Program, the largest of the programs, served over 21 million people, and 16.4 million school children received free or reduced-price lunches from the National School Lunch Program. Yet, 4.3 million American households visited a food pantry, and 1.1 million people ate a meal at an emergency kitchen in a typical month in 2001.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program: Executive Summaries of 2002 Research Grants

    FANRR-38, November 19, 2003

    This report summarizes research findings from the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program. The Economic Research Service created the program in 1998 to stimulate new and innovative research on food assistance and nutrition issues and to broaden the participation of social science scholars in these issues. The report includes summaries of the research projects that were awarded 1-year grants in summer and fall 2001. The results of these research projects were presented at the October 2002 Small Grants Program conference. The projects focus on food insecurity and hunger, nutritional status and diet quality, Federal food assistance program participation, and the role of private-sector organizations in the provision of food assistance. Some projects focus on specific populations, such as people living in the rural South and those living on American Indian reservations.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program: Executive Summaries of 2001 Research Grants

    FANRR-37, November 10, 2003

    This report summarizes research findings from the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program. The Economic Research Service created the program in 1998 to stimulate new and innovative research on food assistance and nutrition issues and to broaden the participation of social science scholars in these issues. The report includes summaries of the research projects that were awarded 1-year grants in summer and fall 2000. The results of these research projects were presented at the 2001 Small Grants Program conference. The projects focus on food insecurity and hunger, nutritional outcomes, and the causes and consequences of food assistance program participation. Some projects focus on specific populations, such as people living in the rural South and on American Indian reservations.

  • Issues in Food Assistance-The Emergency Food Assistance System: Findings from the Client Survey

    FANRR-26-10, September 30, 2003

    Food pantries and emergency kitchens play an important role in feeding America's low-income and needy populations. These organizations are part of the Emergency Food Assistance System (EFAS), a network run largely by private organizations with some Federal support. This issues brief summarizes findings from a survey of EFAS customers. The survey found that, during a typical month in 2001, food pantries served about 12.5 million people, and emergency kitchens served about 1.1 million people. The majority of EFAS households participate in a Federal food assistance program, including two-thirds of food-pantry clients and 45 percent of emergency-kitchen clients. However, a substantial number of EFAS households do not receive food stamps, though they appear to be eligible for them.

  • Food Stamp Benefits and Childhood Poverty in the 1990s

    FANRR-33, September 02, 2003

    In 2000, 8.8 million children received food stamps, making the Food Stamp Program a crucial component of the social safety net. Despite its importance, little research has examined the effect of food stamps on children's overall well-being. Using the Current Population Survey from 1989 to 2001, we consider the impact of food stamps on three measures of poverty-the headcount, the poverty gap, and the squared poverty gap. These measures portray the incidence, depth, and severity of poverty. We find that in comparison to the headcount measure, food stamp benefits lead to large reductions in the poverty gap and squared poverty gap measures. We then simulate the effects of several changes in the distribution of food stamps and find that a general across-the-board increase in benefits has little impact on poverty reduction. In contrast, targeted changes can greatly reduce the depth and severity of poverty-increasing benefits to the poor results in a greater reduction in the depth of poverty than expanding participation rates, at a similar cost, among poor households.

  • The Emergency Food Assistance System-Findings From the Client Survey: Executive Summary

    FANRR-32, August 11, 2003

    During a typical month in 2001, food pantries served about 12.5 million people, and emergency kitchens served about 1.1 million people. Food pantries and emergency kitchens play an important role in feeding America's low-income and needy populations. These organizations are part of the Emergency Food Assistance System (EFAS), a network run largely by private organizations with some Federal support. This report presents findings from a national study of EFAS clients, which surveyed clients who received emergency food assistance from selected food pantries and emergency kitchens. The study finds that food pantries and emergency kitchens serve a diverse clientele, but that almost three-fourths of those served are food insecure. The majority of EFAS households receive Federal food assistance, including two-thirds of food pantry clients and 45 percent of emergency kitchen clients. However, a substantial number of EFAS households do not receive food stamps, though they appear to be eligible for them.

  • The Emergency Food Assistance System-Findings From the Client Survey: Final Report

    EFAN-03007, August 06, 2003

    During a typical month in 2001, food pantries served about 12.5 million people, and emergency kitchens served about 1.1 million people. Food pantries and emergency kitchens play an important role in feeding America's low-income and needy populations. These organizations are part of the Emergency Food Assistance System (EFAS), a network run largely by private organizations with some Federal support. This report presents findings from a national study of EFAS clients, which surveyed clients who received emergency food assistance from selected food pantries and emergency kitchens. The study finds that food pantries and emergency kitchens serve a diverse clientele, but that almost three-fourths of those served are food insecure. The majority of EFAS households receive Federal food assistance, including two-thirds of food pantry clients and 45 percent of emergency kitchen clients. However, a substantial number of EFAS households do not receive food stamps, though they appear to be eligible for them.

  • Emergency Food Providers Supplement Federal Aid

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2003

    During times of need, many households turn to local, nongovernment emergency food providers. Yet only limited information about these organizations has been available to policymakers. A recent ERS-funded study of emergency food providers estimates that almost 33,000 food pantries and over 5,000 emergency kitchens operate in the United States, and they provided an estimated 2.4 billion meals in 2000. The study is the first to provide a broad, national overview of these private, nonprofit organizations and their relationship to Federal food assistance programs.