Publications

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  • Middle School Student Lunch Consumption: Impact of National School Lunch Program Meal and Competitive Foods

    CCR-30, June 06, 2007

    Based on lunchtime food records collected from students in three Houston area middle schools during school year 2001-02, study finds students who consumed mainly National School Lunch Program (NSLP) food reported higher intake of most nutrients, milk, fruits, and vegetables and lower intakes of sweetened beverages and candy than students who consumed mainly non-NSLP food. Students in the “mainly NLSP” group also consumed more sodium, fat, and saturated fat, however, and calorie intake was also higher for this group.

  • Could Behavioral Economics Help Improve Diet Quality for Nutrition Assistance Program Participants?

    ERR-43, June 01, 2007

    The increasing presence of nontraditional grocery retailers such as supercenters is generating new cost-cutting and differentiation strategies among traditional food retailers.

  • 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.

  • On The Map

    Amber Waves, May 01, 2007

    An average of 25.6 million people, or 8.7 percent of the U.S. population, received food stamps each month during fiscal year 2005, an increase from 8.1 percent in 2004.

  • Food Assistance: How Strong Is the Safety Net?

    Amber Waves, May 01, 2007

    Food-assistance programs provide a safety net to help U.S. households purchase sufficient food. These programs, particularly the Food Stamp Program, increase food spending and household income. In 2004, adding food stamp benefits to recipients' incomes raised 9 percent of recipients out of poverty. Food assistance programs, particularly the school meals and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs, have also been promoted as offering access to essential nutrients and minerals, however, the nutritional effects of these programs are uncertain.

  • National School Lunch Program Fills Food Assistance Gaps

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2007

    Participation in the National School Lunch Program is lower among high school students than among children ages 8-13. Greater use of electronic payment methods to prevent free meal recipients from being identified by their peers, along with changes in menus and improved cooking techniques, has increased participation.

  • Effects of WIC and Food Stamp Program Participation on Child Outcomes

    CCR-27, December 27, 2006

    This study examines the relationship between the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Food Stamp Program participation and young children’s health and mistreatment outcomes. The analysis uses a unique individual-level longitudinal database that links administrative datasets on WIC and Food Stamp Program participation, Medicaid enrollment and claims, and child abuse and neglect reports in Illinois.

  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2005

    ERR-29, November 15, 2006

    Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2005, meaning that they had access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households were food insecure at least some time during that year. The prevalence of food insecurity declined from 11.9 percent of households in 2004 to 11.0 percent in 2005, while the prevalence of very low food security remained unchanged at 3.9 percent. This report, based on data from the December 2005 food security survey, provides the most recent statistics on the food security of U.S. households, as well as on how much they spent for food and the extent to which food-insecure households participated in Federal and community food assistance programs.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Program: Executive Summaries of 2005 Research Grants

    CCR-23, October 12, 2006

    This report summarizes research findings from the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Program (RIDGE), formerly known as the Small Grants Program. The report includes summaries of the research projects that were awarded 1-year grants in summer and fall 2004. The projects examine issues of childhood obesity, food insecurity among vulnerable populations, food assistance program participation and household well-being, and community influence on food assistance and dietary choices.

  • The Food Assistance Landscape: FY 2006 Midyear Report

    EIB-6-3, September 15, 2006

    USDA expenditures for its 15 food assistance programs totaled $27.7 billion during the first half of fiscal 2006 (October 2005-March 2006), a 7-percent increase over the first half of fiscal 2005. Five programs-the Food Stamp Program; the National School Lunch Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); the School Breakfast Program; and the Child and Adult Care Food Program-accounted for 96 percent of USDA's total expenditures for food assistance. This report uses preliminary data from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to examine trends in the programs at the midpoint of fiscal 2006. It also summarizes a number of ERS research reports on the Food Stamp Program released in recent years that may help inform discussions of the 2007 reauthorization of the farm bill.

  • Income Volatility Complicates Food Assistance

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2006

    Income fluctuations cause low-income families to cycle in and out of eligibility for food assistance programs. Twenty-eight percent of U.S. households with children experienced at least one monthly income change in the late 1990s that put them above or below the eligibility criteria for many programs.

  • Emergency Food Assistance Reaches Hurricane Victims

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2006

    Between September and December 2005, in response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, 1.6 million new U.S. households received food stamp benefits through USDA's Disaster Food Stamp Program. An additional 676,000 households had benefits replaced due to destroyed food. Benefits issued amounted to $900 million.

  • Food Assistance: How Strong Is the Safety Net?

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2006

    Food-assistance programs provide a safety net to help U.S. households purchase sufficient food. These programs, particularly the Food Stamp Program, increase food spending and household income. In 2004, adding food stamp benefits to recipients' incomes raised 9 percent of recipients out of poverty. Food assistance programs, particularly the school meals and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs, have also been promoted as offering access to essential nutrients and minerals, however, the nutritional effects of these programs are uncertain.

  • How Low-Income Households Allocate Their Food Budget Relative to the Cost of the Thrifty Food Plan

    ERR-20, August 25, 2006

    Low-income households that participate in the Food Stamp Program can achieve a healthy diet if they use the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) as a guide for their food shopping. Most studies measuring the degree to which low-income households follow the TFP have compared total household food expenditures-for food at home as well as food away from home-to the TFP. The present study looked at total expenditures, but the emphasis is on how low-income households allocate their budget relative to the TFP for food at home. To determine whether some types of households are more likely than others to budget their food purchases in accordance with TFP benchmarks, and to identify households that might benefit most from nutrition education programs, the study compared actual and TFP expenditures for four household categories.

  • Profiles of Participants in the National School Lunch Program: Data From Two National Surveys

    EIB-17, August 25, 2006

    The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) serves more than 29 million children each day, but there is little information on the characteristics of those children. This study reports new estimates of NSLP participant characteristics using two national surveys: the 2001 Panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Study results also show that these two surveys are suitable sources of data on NSLP participants since they are consistent with more aggregated administrative data of the Food and Nutrition Service. The surveys supplement periodic characteristics data available from the School Nutrition and Dietary Assessment (SNDA) surveys.

  • The Income Volatility See-Saw: Implications for School Lunch

    ERR-23, August 15, 2006

    Income volatility challenges the effectiveness of the safety net that USDA food assistance programs provide low-income families. This study examines income volatility among households with children and the implications of volatility for eligibility in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The results show that income volatility was higher for successively lower income groups and that the major determinants of changes in NSLP eligibility were changes in total household hours worked and the share of working adults. Income volatility in two-thirds of lower income households caused one or more changes in their monthly NSLP eligibility during the year. An estimated 27 percent of households that were income eligible for subsidized lunches at the beginning of the school year were no longer income eligible for the same level of subsidy by December due to monthly income changes.

  • Nutrient Adequacy of Children Participating in WIC

    EB-8, April 20, 2006

    USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods to participants, in most cases through vouchers for retail purchase of foods designated as approved by the program. WIC food packages were initially designed to include foods rich in nutrients that were lacking in the diets of low-income participants. This brief summarizes two recent ERS-sponsored studies that provide new assessments of nutrient intakes of WIC children, income-eligible children not participating in the program, and children ineligible for the program.

  • South Carolina Food Stamp and Well-Being Study: Transitions in Food Stamp and TANF Participation and Employment Among Families With Children

    CCR-17, April 03, 2006

    People who receive public assistance confront a number of “clocks” that may affect program participation. Examples of clocks include time limits on receiving benefits and recurring deadlines for reconfirming eligibility. This study examines the role of program clocks, economic conditions, and other circumstances on participation in South Carolina’s cash and food assistance programs.

  • Administrative Costs in the Child and Adult Care Food Program: Results of an Exploratory Study of the Reimbursement System for Sponsors of Family Child Care Homes

    CCR-16, March 21, 2006

    Providers of child day care services operating out of their homes may be reimbursed for meals and snacks served to participating children through USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). To participate, these homes must be sponsored by a public or private organization that recruits the homes, trains them to follow CACFP rules, monitors compliance with the rules, and handles meal reimbursement claims and payments. This study explores the administrative cost reimbursement system for CACFP sponsors.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Fiscal 2006, Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program: Description and Application Process

    AP-018, March 17, 2006

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program accepted proposals for grants and cooperative agreements for fiscal 2006. The three priority research areas were (1) Economic Incentives in Food Assistance Programs, (2) Food Assistance as a Safety Net, and (3) Food Choices, Obesity, and Human Capital. This publication describes the research areas and application requirements. Funding for competitive awards in fiscal 2006 was approximately $1.5 million. The deadline for proposal submission was May 22, 2006.