Publications

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  • 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-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-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.

  • 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 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.

  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2001

    FANRR-29, October 21, 2002

    Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year 2001. The rest were food insecure at least some time during the year, meaning they did not always have access to enough food for active, healthy lives for all household members because they lacked sufficient money or other resources for food. The prevalence of food insecurity rose from 10.1 percent in 1999 to 10.7 percent in 2001, and the prevalence of food insecurity with hunger rose from 3.0 percent to 3.3 percent during the same period. This report, based on data from the December 2001 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.

  • Effects of Food Assistance and Nutrition Programs on Nutrition and Health: Volume 2, Data Sources

    FANRR-19-2, October 01, 2002

    This is the second of four reports completed by Abt Associates Inc., under the contract "The Nutrition and Health Outcome Study." This report is an evaluation of various data sources for their potential for analyzing the impacts of USDA's food assistance and nutrition programs. Data sources are evaluated against three criteria: coverage of both program participants and nonparticipants; identification of participants and determination of eligibility among nonparticipants; and availability of impact measures. Each data source is classified into one of four categories: principal, potential, recognized, and insufficient. Principal and potential sources are discussed and profiled in this report.