Publications

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  • 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.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Certifying Eligibility in the National School Lunch Program

    FANRR-34-4, July 15, 2003

    Nutritionally balanced National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meals are available in almost all public and many private schools. Any child at a participating school may purchase a lunch through the NSLP; over half of the 25 million NSLP lunches served on an average school day in 2001 were given to children free or at a reduced price. Current regulations allow children to be certified for free or reduced-priced lunches in two ways-direct certification based on documentation from State or local welfare offices, or certification based on an application from a child's parent or guardian. This report examines whether students who are not eligible for free or reduced-cost meals are receiving meals.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Feeding Low-Income Children When School Is Out: The Summer Food Service Program

    FANRR-34-10, July 15, 2003

    The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is the major Federal resource available to provide children from low-income families with nutritious meals when school is not in session. Small in comparison with the National School Lunch Program, which served 15.5 million children in 2001, the SFSP served 2.1 million children. Growing interest in improving SFSP operations and expanding participation led USDA to commission the first comprehensive examination of the program since 1986. This brief presents findings from the study.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Estimating Eligibility and Participation in WIC

    FANRR-34-3, July 15, 2003

    The number of participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has increased dramatically since the program began in 1974. The increase in the number of participants has been largely the result of increased congressional funding as well as cost-containment measures. USDA's annual estimates of the number of people eligible to participate in the WIC program are used to develop budget requests for WIC. Estimation of eligibility and participation is a complex process, due to data limitations, varying State program eligibility criteria, and alternate definitions of key variables.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Reimbursement Tiering Improves Targeting but Decreases Participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program

    FANRR-34-9, July 15, 2003

    The Family Child Care Homes Legislative Changes Study found that family child care homes in the Child and Adult Care Food Program serve fewer children but more of the children are from low-income families. Prior to the tiered reimbursement system, which started in 1997, 21 percent of the children served were from low-income families. Post tiering, that number rose to 45 percent.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Tiering Increases CACFP Sponsors' Administrative Tasks

    FANRR-34-8, July 15, 2003

    The two-tiered meal reimbursement system instituted in 1997 within the child care homes portion of the Child and Adult Care Food Program added new duties for sponsoring organizations. This report examines how these new duties have affected the sponsoring organizations' administrative tasks.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Do Healthy School Meals Cost More?

    FANRR-34-6, July 15, 2003

    With child obesity soaring and the juvenile incidence of diabetes and hypertension also on the rise in the United States, there is strong policy interest in the potential of USDA school meals to promote healthy diets and weights. It has been argued, however, that improving the nutritional quality of school meals will raise costs. This report examines whether improving the nutritional quality of meals served by the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program increases program costs.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Food Insecurity in Households With Children

    FANRR-34-13, July 15, 2003

    Household food security, defined as access at all times to enough food for active healthy living, is taken for granted by most American children. However, some parents do have difficulty at times getting enough food for themselves and, more rarely, for their children. This brief examines the extent to which the diets and eating patterns of American children are disrupted because their families cannot always afford enough food.

  • 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.