Publications

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Assessment of WIC Cost-Containment Practices: Final Report

    EFAN-03005, February 25, 2003

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides both nutrition education and supplemental foods for pregnant, breastfeeding, and post-partum women, infants, and children. These supplemental foods contain nutrients that nutritional research has found may otherwise be lacking in the diets of WIC recipients. 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.

  • Balancing Food Costs with Nutrition Goals in WIC

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    This Amber Waves article summarizes an ERS report on cost-containment practices in the WIC program, with an emphasis on case studies conducted in six states. This research was funded by the FANRP program, and was conducted by Abt Associates.

  • Breastfeeding Promotion Research: The ES/WIC Nutrition Education Initiative and Economic Considerations

    AIB-744, September 01, 1998

    Educating low-income women about the advantages of breastfeeding their babies increases the number who breastfeed. This report summarizes the results of four projects that focused primarily on promoting breastfeeding, which is considered to be the most healthful and beneficial feeding method for most infants. Research has shown that breastfeeding improves the general health, growth, and development of infants and significantly reduces the risk of several health problems both during early life and in later years. Lower income women have been less likely to breastfeed than higher income women. One step the USDA has taken to promote breastfeeding is the ES/WIC Nutrition Education Initiative. This combines the strengths of two nutrition programs for low-income families, the Cooperative Extension System's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and the Food and Nutrition Service's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. This report shows that breastfeeding education before delivery increases the initiation of breastfeeding among low-income women. The results also indicate that breastfeeding support soon after delivery increases the duration of breastfeeding.

  • 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.

  • Characteristics of Low-Income Households With Very Low Food Security: An Analysis of the USDA GPRA Food Security Indicator

    EIB-25, May 31, 2007

    ERS provides information on the composition, location, employment, education, and other characteristics of households that experienced very low food security.

  • Children's Consumption of WIC-Approved Foods

    FANRR-44, February 14, 2005

    This study compared consumption patterns of WIC children with those of three different comparison groups: eligible nonparticipating children living in non-WIC households, eligible nonparticipating children living in WIC households, and children living in households whose income is too high to be eligible for WIC. The study provides strong evidence that participation in the WIC program increases consumption of at least some types of WIC-approved foods.

  • Children's Diets and WIC

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2006

    An ERS study found that children who participate in WIC drank more WIC-approved juice and ate more WIC-approved cereal than did eligible nonparticipating children and children from higher income families. Other studies found that while protein, calcium, and vitamins A and C are no longer lacking in the diets of preschool children, some preschoolers are consuming too many calories and not enough vitamin E and fiber.

  • Commemorating 20 Years of U.S. Food Security Measurement

    Amber Waves, October 05, 2015

    USDA’s release of the 2014 food security statistics marks the 20th year of consistent, scientifically-based, objective data on food adequacy in U.S. households. The 20-year anniversary provides an opportunity to review the history of the food security measure—how the measure was developed, tested, and evaluated—and to reflect on its impact.

  • Comparing Alternative Mechanisms To Increase Fruit and Vegetable Purchases

    EIB-170, April 05, 2017

    ERS compares three possible enhancements to SNAP benefits to encourage fruit and vegetable purchases by participants

  • Comparing National Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) Data With Other National Food Surveys’ Data

    EIB-157, July 27, 2016

    Data from USDA's National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS), the first nationally representative household survey to collect data on foods purchased or acquired during a survey week, are compared with data from other national-level, food-related surveys.

  • Competitive Grant To Establish a USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research

    AP-063, May 01, 2014

    ERS in partnership with USDA's Food and Nutrition Service is inviting proposals to establish the USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research. The USDA Center will apply behavioral economics to food choice behaviors, including consumer, food industry, and retailer behaviors, that are relevant to USDA policies, with special attention to the SNAP and WIC programs. Errata: On June 4, 2014, Table 1, "Specific Instructions for Application for Federal Domestic Assistance-Short Organizational (SF-424)," Item 6b-c was changed from "leave blank" to "enter the requested information."

  • Cost Containment in the WIC Program: Vendor Peer Groups and Reimbursement Rates

    ERR-171, August 19, 2014

    ERS examines two possible strategies for containing WIC program costs-inducing small vendors to lower prices, and eliminating the vendors in each vendor peer group (organized by size and geographic location) who have the highest prices.

  • Cost of Infant Formula for the WIC Program Rising

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2006

    Both the net wholesale price and the retail markup for infant formula provided through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) have increased in recent years. Much of the increase in the cost of providing infant formula to WIC participants is due to higher prices for DHA- and ARA-supplemented formulas.