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  • Feasibility and Accuracy of Record Linkage To Estimate Multiple Program Participation: Volume II, Survey of Food Assistance Information Systems-Survey Instruments

    EFAN-03008-2, June 23, 2003

    Administrative data from USDA's food assistance and nutrition programs (FANPs) provide statistics on the number and characteristics of program participants. However, policymakers and researchers often want more information than these administrative data provide about participation in multiple programs or the characteristics of families who choose to participate in some, but not all, programs for which they are eligible. This study investigates the feasibility of linking administrative data across FANPs to provide statistics on multiple-program participation. The first phase of the study included a Survey of Food Assistance Information Systems, taken in 26 States from directors of the Food Stamp Program (FSP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Child Nutrition Programs. The survey collected information about the characteristics and content of FANP information systems, including system architecture, participant identifiers, integration with other programs, and research uses of administrative data. This report includes the instruments for the survey.

  • Feasibility and Accuracy of Record Linkage To Estimate Multiple Program Participation: Volume I, Record Linkage Issues and Results of the Survey of Food Assistance Information Systems

    EFAN-03008-1, June 23, 2003

    Administrative data from USDA's food assistance and nutrition programs (FANPs) provide statistics on the number and characteristics of program participants. However, policymakers and researchers often want more information than these administrative data provide about participation in multiple programs or the characteristics of families who choose to participate in some, but not all, programs for which they are eligible. This study investigates the feasibility of linking administrative data across FANPs to provide statistics on multiple-program participation. This report presents the results of the first phase of the study. The results are based on the Survey of Food Assistance Information Systems, taken in 26 States from directors of the Food Stamp Program (FSP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Child Nutrition Programs. The survey collected information about the characteristics and content of FANP information systems. Findings indicate that FSP and WIC statewide information systems vary significantly in the number and types of client identifiers, extent of data verification, and rules for data retention and overwriting. The survey also found that participant data from the child nutrition programs are currently unavailable at the State-level except from a handful of States.

  • 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.

  • Evaluation of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program: Report to Congress

    EFAN-03006, April 28, 2003

    Almost all schools participating in USDA's Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program (FVPP) consider the program to be very successful and would like the pilot to continue. The Nutrition Title of the 2002 Farm Act provided $6 million to the FVPP for the 2002-03 school year to improve fruit and vegetable consumption among the Nation's schoolchildren. The FVPP provided fresh and dried fruits and fresh vegetables free to children in 107 elementary and secondary schools-100 schools in 4 States (25 schools each in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio) and 7 schools in the Zuni Indian Tribal Organization (ITO) in New Mexico. The intent of the pilot is to determine the feasibility of such a program and its success as assessed by the students' interest in participating. Of the 105 schools reporting on feasibility, 100 believe that it is feasible to continue the pilot if funding were made available. The pilot provided ample funding that averaged about $94 per student. Schools believed that 80 percent of students were very interested in the pilot, and 71 percent reported that students' interest had increased during the pilot period. Many schools reported that the 10-percent cap on nonfood (for example, labor) costs out of each grant was too restrictive. This report provides an early review of the pilot.

  • Feeding Low-Income Children When School Is Out-The Summer Food Service Program: Executive Summary

    FANRR-30, April 25, 2003

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), funds meals for children in low-income areas when school is not in session. USDA's Economic Research Service recently sponsored the first comprehensive study of the SFSP in more than a decade. The nationally representative study surveyed State administrators, sponsor staff, and site staff on program operations and on factors that affect participation. The study also examined the nutritional quality of meals served and the extent of plate waste. In fiscal year 2001, more than 4,000 local sponsors provided about 130 million meals at more than 35,000 feeding sites. The number of children served in July (2.1 million) was about 14 percent of the number who received free or reduced-price school meals during the previous school year.

    In an effort to help target potential SFSP expansion efforts, ERS has developed the Summer Food Service Program Map Machine. The interactive web machine combines data on 2001 SFSP sponsors and sites, Census 2000 data on small geographic areas, and school census data. Users can create maps that allow them to infer at a glance whether SFSP sites are located in areas of the highest need, and whether some qualified areas have been overlooked. The Map Machine also allows for in-depth analysis of program coverage. See the Food Access Research Atlas.

    See also: Feeding Low-Income Children When School Is Out-The Summer Food Service Program: Final Report.

  • Feeding Low-Income Children When School Is Out-The Summer Food Service Program: Final Report

    EFAN-03001, March 26, 2003

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), funds meals for children in low-income areas when school is not in session. The first comprehensive study of the SFSP since 1986 found that, in fiscal year 2001, more than 4,000 local sponsors provided about 130 million meals at more than 35,000 feeding sites. The number of children served in July 2001 (2.1 million per day) was about 14 percent of the number who received free or reduced-price school meals each day during the previous school year. On average, SFSP meals provided the levels of key nutrients recommended for school meals. However, breakfasts were slightly lower in food energy than recommended, and lunches were higher in fat. Half the SFSP sponsors were school districts, which operated about half the sites and served about half the meals. Other sponsors included government agencies, private nonprofit organizations, and residential camps. The nationally representative study, which was sponsored by USDA's Economic Research Service, surveyed State administrators, sponsor staff, and site staff on program operations and on factors that affect participation.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Fiscal 2003, Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program: Description and Application Process

    AP-012, March 13, 2003

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program accepted proposals for grants and cooperative agreements for fiscal 2003. The three priority research areas were (1) Program Design and Operations, (2) Food Assistance as a Safety Net, and (3) Obesity, Diet Quality, and Health Outcomes. This publication describes the research areas and application requirements. Funding for competitive awards in fiscal 2003 was approximately $1 million. The deadline for proposal submission was May 19, 2003.

  • Food Stamp Leavers Research Study-Study of Nonwelfare Families Leaving the Food Stamp Program in South Carolina: Final Report

    EFAN-03003, March 06, 2003

    This report presents the results of a study of about 900 nonwelfare families who left the Food Stamp Program (FSP) in South Carolina between October 1998 and March 2000. Nonwelfare families were defined as families who did not receive any benefits under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program in the 12 months before leaving the FSP. The families were surveyed about 12 months after they left the FSP. The study results show that more than 80 percent of the respondents who were still off of food stamps were either working or living with an employed adult. Employment rates were much higher for Blacks than for Whites. More than 80 percent of the respondents who were working and still off of food stamps were working at least 30 hours per week. Among the unemployed who were still off food stamps, the most common reason for not working was the health condition of the respondent. Many respondents reported an increase in minor hardships since leaving the FSP but a few reported more serious hardships.

  • Food Stamp Leavers Research Study-Study of ABAWDs Leaving the Food Stamp Program in South Carolina: Final Report

    EFAN-03002, March 06, 2003

    This report presents the findings of a study of able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) in South Carolina who left the Food Stamp Program (FSP) between October 1998 and March 2000. Under 1996 welfare reform legislation, ABAWDs are limited to 3 months of food stamp benefits in a 36-month period unless they work or participate in an approved work or training program. Survey data collected 12 months after they left the FSP showed that about 72 percent of ABAWD leavers were either working or living with an employed adult. Of those who were unemployed at the time of the survey, about half had worked in the past year. About half were below the poverty line, and two-thirds appeared, based on income, to still be eligible for food stamps. Forty percent were food insecure and 23 percent food insecure with hunger evident. Outcomes for ABAWDs who left the FSP in counties exempted from the ABAWD work requirements and time limits were similar to outcomes of ABAWDS leaving the program in nonexempt counties.

  • 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.

  • Food Assistance Landscape, March 2003

    FANRR-28-2, February 24, 2003

    About half of USDA's budget supports 15 domestic food assistance programs that serve an estimated 1 in 5 Americans at some point during the year. The goals of these programs are to provide needy persons with access to a more nutritious diet, to improve the eating habits of the Nation's children, and to help America's farmers by providing an outlet for the distribution of food purchased under farmer assistance authorities. The Economic Research Service (ERS) is responsible for conducting studies and evaluations of USDA's food assistance programs, focusing on diet and nutritional outcomes, food program targeting and delivery, and program dynamics and administration. This report uses data from the Food and Nutrition Service to examine trends in the food assistance programs through fiscal 2002. It also discusses a recent ERS study on one of the smaller, highly targeted food assistance programs-the Summer Food Service Program.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Final Report: Fiscal 2002 Activities

    AP-011, February 24, 2003

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program (FANRP) supports intramural and extramural research on a wide range of policy-relevant food assistance and nutrition topics. The three perennial program themes are (1) diet and nutritional outcomes, (2) food program targeting and delivery, and (3) program dynamics and administration. The core food and nutrition assistance programs include the Food Stamp Program, the child nutrition programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This report summarizes FANRP's activities and accomplishments in fiscal 2002.

  • What If: Cash Instead of Food Stamps?

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    Proposals to decentralize the Food Stamp Program and allow States flexibility to design and administer their own food assistance programs periodically arise. Under one approach, recipients would receive cash in lieu of food stamp vouchers, giving them greater choice in what they consume.

  • Food Stamps and Child Poverty

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    In 2000, 8.8 million children received food stamps, making the Food Stamp Program a significant component in the well-being of children in many low-income households. This "food stamp effect" reduced the number of children in poverty in 2000 by 4 percent.

  • Issues in Food Assistance-How Do Food Assistance Programs Improve the Well-Being of Low-Income Families?

    FANRR26-9, October 01, 2002

    The costs of USDA's three largest food assistance programs-food stamps, school means and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)-are easier to measure than the benefits of those programs. In 2000, the three programs' direct costs were $28 billion. As shown in this issues brief, the well-being of low-income families who participate in food assistance programs is enhanced by the alleviation of the severity of poverty, an increase in food security, satisfactory nutrient intake, and increases in household food expenditures.

  • Issues in Food Assistance-Assessing the Self-Sufficiency of Food Stamp Leavers

    FANRR26-8, October 01, 2002

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 dramatically altered the welfare system. Among the changes: work-related requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) and tighter limitations on their participation in the Food Stamp Program. The Economic Research Service, USDA, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, HHS, jointly funded and commissioned four State studies to determine the well-being of ABAWDs who had left food stamps in the post-reform era. Results of those studies are discussed in this issues brief.

  • Issues in Food Assistance-How Unemployment Affects the Food Stamp Program

    FANRR-26-7, October 01, 2002

    This issues brief examines the link between unemployment and food stamps, with an emphasis on the potential magnitude of economic and policy changes on food stamp caseloads. We find that a 1-percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate leads to about 700,000 more food stamp recipients in the first year and in the longer run, this increase leads to 1.3 million more food stamp recipients.

  • Food Assistance Landscape, September 2002

    FANRR-28-1, September 02, 2002

    Nearly 1 in 6 Americans is served by 1 or more of the 15 domestic food assistance programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at some point during the year. These programs provide needy persons with access to a more nutritious diet, provide opportunities to improve the eating habits of the Nation's children, and help America's farmers by creating an outlet for the distribution of food purchased under farmer assistance authorities. The Food Assistance Landscape, September 2002 provides a concise summary of USDA's food assistance programs at the midpoint of fiscal 2002, including trends and economic conditions affecting the programs.

  • Issues in Food Assistance-Effects of Changes in Food Stamp Expenditures Across the U.S. Economy

    FANRR-26-6, August 01, 2002

    The Food Stamp Program (FSP) provides assistance to more households during recessions and to fewer households during times of economic expansion. These changes in FSP expenditures can have stabilizing effects on the economy, stimulating economic activity during recessions and slowing demand during expansions. This issues brief shows that the FSP provides an economic stimulus during recessions only if the Government funds the increase in program expenditures through emergency financing, rather than through increased taxes or other budget-neutral means.

  • Re-Engineering the Welfare System-A Study of Administrative Changes to the Food Stamp Program: State Data Collection Instrument

    EFAN-01009, July 01, 2002

    All States in a recent study undertook at least one "re-engineering" activity in their Food Stamp Programs (FSPs) as a result of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). In addition, 35 States implemented changes in 3 or more re-engineering categories, while 24 States planned changes for fiscal year (FY) 2000 in 2 or more categories.