Publications

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  • Food Stamp Program Access Study: Local Office Policies and Practices

    EFAN-03013-1, December 09, 2003

    A survey of State food stamp offices shows that many policies and practices recommended by USDA in 1999 to improve accessibility to the Food Stamp Program (FSP) were widely operational by the year 2000. For example, in the surveyed areas, food stamp outreach campaigns were fairly widespread, food stamp applications were accessible, and some accommodations for the elderly and disabled were common. Other recommended practices, however, were less common, notably practices to encourage participation by working families and former recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The survey also found barriers to participation prevalent for some segments of the food stamp population and opportunities for conducting food stamp business after regular office hours limited. The dramatic decline in FSP participation in the late 1990s led policymakers and analysts to focus on local food stamp office policies and practices as possible barriers to participation. The Food Stamp Program Access Study is examining the relationship between these practices and the decision by eligible households to participate in the FSP. This report presents a detailed analysis of FSP operations that may affect accessibility.

  • Employment Factors Influencing Food Stamp Program Participation: Final Report

    EFAN-03012, November 25, 2003

    This study examines how employment characteristics of low-income households influence Food Stamp Program (FSP) participation. The relationship between employment and FSP participation is of special interest because, although more low-income working families are eligible to participate, many do not. Low-income working households are less likely to participate in the FSP if they work traditional daytime hours, hold multiple jobs, and work more hours, but they are more likely to participate if they frequently change jobs. However, the relationship between employment and FSP participation was stronger in the early 1990s than in the late 1990s, suggesting that barriers to participation among working families decreased during the decade.

  • The Relationship of Earnings and Income to Food Stamp Participation: A Longitudinal Analysis

    EFAN-03011, November 21, 2003

    Monthly income and earnings of households that are eligible to participate in the Food Stamp Program (FSP), but that do not participate, vary substantially more than income and earnings of participant households. In particular, many nonparticipant households have had a short-term drop in income. Other nonparticipants, however, have had long-term low income and are often very disadvantaged. Although nonparticipation by such households might partly reflect underreporting of participation or income, many households may not participate because the same conditions that limit their incomes, such as low literacy levels or physical or mental disability, also limit their ability to participate in the FSP. Many poor nonparticipants are receiving other benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid, suggesting an avenue by which agencies can reach eligible nonparticipants. This study considers the role that the dynamics of household income plays in determining FSP participation. The two main objectives of the analysis are to (1) determine the extent to which nonparticipation can reasonably be attributed to temporary low income, and (2) assess why some households that appear to have long-term low income do not participate.

  • 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.

  • Using One-Stops To Promote Access to Work Supports-Lessons from Virginia's Coordinated Economic Relief Centers: Final Report

    EFAN-03010, November 18, 2003

    Policymakers and program administrators have become increasingly concerned about declines in participation in the Food Stamp Program (FSP) and other work supports. As a result, interest has grown in identifying promising strategies for improving low-income families' access to these programs and benefits. In early 2002, the Commonwealth of Virginia implemented a new initiative: To provide the services of many agencies at one-stop career centers, called Coordinated Economic Relief Centers (CERCs). This report describes the results of a study on how the CERCs were implemented and their potential for increasing low-income families' access to the FSP and other work supports and provides operational lessons for other States and communities seeking to implement a similar one-stop approach to service delivery. The results indicate that the CERCs helped some customers get information about where to find services and made obtaining services more convenient. However, resource constraints hampered the CERCs' efforts to operate as envisioned, the level of referrals to food assistance programs was low, and expectations in some communities exceeded what the CERCs could realistically accomplish.

  • 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.

  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2002

    FANRR-35, October 30, 2003

    Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year 2002, 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 rose from 10.7 percent in 2001 to 11.1 percent in 2002, and the prevalence of food insecurity with hunger rose from 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent. This report, based on data from the December 2002 food security survey, provides 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.

  • Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program-Impacts on Program Access and Integrity

    EFAN-03009, October 07, 2003

    About 61 percent of school districts used direct certification in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in the 2001-02 school year, the same share as in 1996. Direct certification increased the number of children certified for free meals by about 400,000 and slightly increased overall NSLP participation. Under direct certification, school districts use information from State welfare or food stamp offices to certify children to receive free meals. To qualify, the children's families must receive food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or assistance from the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. Children's families who are directly certified do not have to complete certification applications. Direct certification was designed primarily to improve NSLP access and administrative efficiency. The Executive Summary provides highlights and the full report provides details of a study on the prevalence of direct certification, its implementation methods, and its effects on NSLP access and integrity.

  • 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 Assistance Landscape, September 2003

    FANRR-28-3, September 30, 2003

    Domestic food assistance programs account for over half of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) outlays. Each year, about 1 in 5 Americans is served by 1 or more of the 15 food assistance programs aimed at improving the nutrition, well-being, and food security of needy Americans. The Economic Research Service (ERS) is responsible for conducting studies and evaluations of USDA's food assistance programs, focusing on the benefits of improved diets and food choices, factors that influence diet and nutrition, and program outcomes. This report uses preliminary data from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to examine trends in the food assistance programs at the midpoint of fiscal 2003. It also discusses two recent congressionally mandated studies conducted by ERS: an assessment of WIC cost-containment practices, and an evaluation of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program.

  • Dynamics of Poverty and Food Sufficiency

    FANRR-36, September 02, 2003

    This study examines dynamics in poverty and food insufficiency using newly available longitudinal data from the 1993 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and the follow-on Survey of Program Dynamics (SPD). The study uses these data to characterize the incidence and dynamics of poverty and food problems for the entire U.S. population and for different subgroups. It also estimates multivariate, discrete-choice regression models to examine the factors associated with transitions into and out of poverty and food insufficiency, and it analyzes the empirical results in the context of a life-cycle model of income and food consumption. Results indicate that the incidence of food insufficiency in the United States is low-less than 3 percent in 1997. There also appears to be little persistence in food problems; 79 percent of people in households with food problems at the start of the study period were in households without problems 2 years later. The multivariate results indicate that female-headed households face an especially high risk of being food insufficient. Low levels of asset income, an indicator of a household's ability to spread consumption over time, are also associated with food sufficiency problems.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief--The USDA Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program Evaluation

    FANRR-34-14, August 21, 2003

    Getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables can be a significant challenge. A recent ERS study found one program was very successful in achieving the difficult objective. Many elementary and secondary students who ate free snacks of fresh and dried fruits and fresh vegetables as part of USDA's Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program (FVPP) said they improved their eating habits and were more willing to try unfamiliar fruits and formerly disliked vegetables as a result of participating in the pilot. Funded for the 2002-03 school year at $6 million by the 2002 Farm Bill, the pilot program also was considered a success by school staff members who ran it. The pilot operated in 107 U.S. 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 program's intent was to promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption among schoolchildren as concern spreads among health experts about the increasing number of overweight and obese children. A large majority of participating schools that responded to a survey about the pilot program believe that it would be feasible to continue the pilot if funding were made available and that the funding of about $94 per student was adequate. The research brief is based on a Report to Congress, Evaluation of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program: Report to Congress. The current Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is administered by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). For information about child nutrition program participation, contact the State agencies that administer the program.

  • 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.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Assessment of WIC Cost-Containment Practices

    FANRR-34-1, July 15, 2003

    To ensure the best use of available funds and to provide benefits to all eligible individuals, State agencies responsible for carrying out the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) have implemented one or more cost-containment practices. At the request of Congress, the Economic Research Service initiated a study to assess the impact of these practices. Three major findings emerged from the research: Food cost savings were often substantial; there were few adverse outcomes for WIC participants; and administrative costs of cost-containment practices were low.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Childhood Obesity and the Role of USDA

    FANRR-34-11, July 15, 2003

    The rapid increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children is one of the most serious public health concerns in the United States today. Although most of USDA's child nutrition programs were established in response to documented problems of underconsumption and undernutrition among the low-income population, they now have the potential to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. This brief examines the how USDA food assistance and nutrition programs can be used to help further that goal.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-WIC and Breastfeeding Rates

    FANRR-34-2, July 15, 2003

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) promotes breastfeeding as the preferred method for feeding infants. The breastfeeding rates among women participating in WIC, although improving, continue to be significantly lower than the Healthy People 2010 target. Healthy People 2010, established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a set of health objectives for the Nation to achieve over the first decade of the new century. It recommends that at least 75 percent of women initiate breastfeeding and at least 50 percent continue breastfeeding for at least 6 months.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Competitive Foods: Soft Drinks vs. Milk

    FANRR-34-7, July 15, 2003

    "Competitive foods"-those available in schools in addition to USDA-provided school meals-have lower nutritional quality than school meals. This report reviews current information on the impact of competitive foods in school meal programs and presents a case study on competition between milk and soft drinks.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Importance of Child Nutrition Programs to Agriculture

    FANRR-34-12, July 15, 2003

    This research brief estimates the impact of specific USDA child-nutrition programs on production, value added, and jobs on U.S. farms, looking at the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and a combined group of school programs (the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Special Milk, and Summer Food Service Programs).

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-A Healthy School Meal Environment

    FANRR-34-5, July 15, 2003

    This report examines how schools can foster an environment that encourages healthy food choices by participants in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. Environmental factors that are considered to be important in affecting those choices include (1) the nutritional quality, variety, and acceptability of program meals; (2) meal scheduling; (3) nutrition education; and (4) sales of non-USDA foods.