Publications

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  • 2008 Farm Act Makes It Easier for Food Assistance Households To Save

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2008

    The 2008 Farm Act includes new provisions that make it easier for SNAP households to save, especially for education or retirement. Asset limits that determine eligibility for SNAP benefits will be adjusted annually for inflation beginning in 2012. Assets held in tax-qualified retirement and education accounts will not count against eligibility. An additional 354,000 households are expected to become eligible for SNAP as a result of the exclusion of retirement accounts.

  • 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.

  • 2014-16 Eating & Health Module User's Guide (2016 Edition)

    AP-070, May 17, 2016

    The 2014-16 Eating & Health Module User's Guide (2016 Edition) provides detailed guidance to researchers on how to use the Module to measure time use and eating patterns.

  • A Comparison of Food Assistance Programs in Mexico and the United States

    FANRR-6, August 04, 2000

    The social safety nets in Mexico and the United States rely heavily on food assistance programs to ensure food security and access to safe and nutritious foods. To achieve these general goals, both countries' programs are exclusively paid for out of internal funds and both target low-income households and/or individuals. Despite those similarities, economic, cultural, and demographic differences between the countries lead to differences in their abilities to ensure food security and access to safe and nutritious foods. Mexico uses geographic and household targeting to distribute benefits while the United States uses only household targeting. U.S. food assistance programs tend to be countercyclical (as the economy expands, food assistance expenditures decline and vice-versa). Mexican food assistance programs appear to be neither counter- nor procyclical. Food assistance programs have little effect on the extent of poverty in Mexico, while the opposite is true in the United States, primarily because the level of benefits as a percentage of income is much lower in Mexico and a much higher percentage of eligible households receive benefits from food assistance programs in the United States.

  • A Comparison of Household Food Security in Canada and the United States

    ERR-67, December 29, 2008

    Using nationally representative surveys from the United States and Canada, ERS compares rates of food insecurity in economic and demographic subgroups of the two countries.

  • A Look at What’s Driving Lower Purchases of School Lunches

    Amber Waves, October 05, 2015

    In recent years, the share of children paying full price for their school lunches has fallen from 40 percent in fiscal 2008 to 28 percent in fiscal 2014, continuing a longer downward trend. A combination of reasons—both economic factors and policy changes—are affecting participation decisions in the Nation’s school lunch rooms.

  • A Wide Variety of Fruit and Vegetables Are Affordable for SNAP Recipients

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2011

    Recent ERS research suggests that low-income Americans can meet the Dietary Guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption with a wide selection of fresh and processed products and stay within a limited budget.

  • Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Updated Estimates of Distance to Supermarkets Using 2010 Data

    ERR-143, November 28, 2012

    ERS updates data on spatial access to affordable, healthy food, measuring distance to the nearest supermarkets for the U.S. population and considering factors like vehicle ownership and income level of households and areas.

  • Adults in Households With More Severe Food Insecurity Are More Likely To Have a Chronic Disease

    Amber Waves, October 02, 2017

    A recent ERS study found that lower food security among low-income working-age adults is associated with higher probability of 10 chronic health conditions.

  • 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

  • Americans Spend an Average of 37 Minutes a Day Preparing and Serving Food and Cleaning Up

    Amber Waves, November 07, 2016

    The average time spent in meal prep—preparing, serving, and cleaning up afterward—varies by gender, age, and employment status. Households with children and those participating in food assistance programs spend more time in meal prep than other households.

  • Americans' Eating Patterns and Time Spent on Food: The 2014 Eating & Health Module Data

    EIB-158, July 28, 2016

    ERS analyzed food and food-related time use patterns by factors such as income level and participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

  • An Economic Model of WIC, the Infant Formula Rebate Program, and the Retail Price of Infant Formula

    FANRR-39-2, January 03, 2005

    This report develops an economic model that provides the theoretical framework for the econometric analyses presented in the report's companion volume, WIC and the Retail Price of Infant Formula (FANRR-39-1). The model examines supermarket retail prices for infant formula in a local market area, and identifies the theoretical effects of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and its infant formula rebate program. Special attention is given to the rebate program's sole-source procurement system by which a single manufacturer becomes a State's "contract brand" -the State's one supplier of formula to WIC infants-in exchange for paying rebates to WIC. When a manufacturer's brand is designated a State's contract brand, the model predicts that supermarkets increase that brand's retail price. The model also predicts that an increase in the ratio of WIC to non-WIC formula-fed infants in a local market results in an increase in the price of the contract brand and, through demand substitution, a relatively small price increase for noncontract brands.

  • An Illustrated Guide to Research Findings from USDA's Economic Research Service

    EIB-48, April 01, 2009

    This book contains a sampling of recent ERS research illustrating the breadth of the Agency's research on current policy issues: from biofuels to food consumption to land conservation to patterns of trade for agricultural products.

  • Analysis of Those Leaving USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reveals the Program’s Effectiveness

    Amber Waves, February 21, 2013

    A recent ERS analysis compares the food security status of current SNAP recipients with that of households that had recently left the program. The difference of 8.9 percentage points in prevalence of very low food security between households that continued to receive SNAP benefits (14.2 percent) and households that had recently left the program (23.1 percent) provides an estimate of SNAP’s effectiveness in improving the food security of participating households.

  • Annual and Monthly SNAP Participation Rates

    ERR-192, August 25, 2015

    FNS estimates monthly SNAP participation rates; ERS has provided a complementary measure, estimating the proportion of the eligible population who participate at some time during the year. Each measure can be useful in assessing SNAP.

  • Are Lower Income Households Willing and Able To Budget for Fruits and Vegetables?

    ERR-54, January 07, 2008

    Households have a number of needs and wants that all compete for scarce resources. Given this situation, are low-income households, in particular, generally willing and able to budget for healthful foods like fruits and vegetables, or are other goods and services, including other foods, more of a priority? For six out of seven selected types of food, we find that households with an income below 130 percent of the poverty line spend less money than higher income households. However, we also find that these households, when given a small increase in income, will allocate more money to only two out of the seven products, beef and frozen prepared foods. These foods may be priorities for reasons of taste and convenience. For additional money to be allocated to fruits and vegetables, a household's income needs to be slightly greater than 130 percent of the poverty line.

  • Assessing Potential Technical Enhancements to the U.S. Household Food Security Measures

    TB-1936, December 31, 2012

    The study assesses the extent to which USDA's measurement of household food security would be improved by one or more of five potential technical enhancements recommended by the National Academies' Committee on National Statistics.

  • Assessment of WIC Cost-Containment Practices: An Interim Report to Congress

    EFAN-01005, February 01, 2001

    The William F. Goodling Child Nutrition Act of 1998 directed ERS to conduct a study to assess the impacts of WIC (USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) cost-containment practices. This Interim Report presents results from the first year of the study, including details of State WIC agencies' cost-containment practices, classification of States according to cost-containment practices, and selection of six States for case studies. The report also describes planned data collection efforts and subsequent analysis to be conducted to address the objectives specified in the legislation.

  • Assessment of WIC Cost-Containment Practices: Executive Summary

    FANRR-31, May 26, 2003

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides both nutrition education and supplemental foods containing nutrients determined by nutritional research to be lacking in the diets of pregnant, breastfeeding, and post-partum women, infants, and children. State WIC agencies have implemented practices designed to reduce the cost of food packages containing these prescribed foods. For instance, one of the WIC program's primary cost-saving practices is negotiating rebate contracts with manufacturers of infant formula. Additional practices include limiting authorized vendors to stores with lower food prices; limiting approved brands, package sizes, forms, or prices; and negotiating rebates with food manufacturers or suppliers. There is concern that these practices may inadvertently counter the program's goal of providing supplemental foods and nutrition education. Based on a review of cost-containment practices in six States, including interviews with the various stakeholders and analysis of WIC administrative files, the study draws three major conclusions: (1) cost-containment practices reduced average food package costs by 0.2 to 21.4 percent, depending on practices implemented and local conditions; (2) the cost-containment practices had few adverse outcomes for WIC participants; and (3) administrative costs of the practices were low, averaging about 1.5 percent of food package savings.