Publications

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  • Most U.S. Households Do Their Main Grocery Shopping at Supermarkets and Supercenters Regardless of Income

    Amber Waves, August 03, 2015

    Data from USDA’s new FoodAPS survey reveal that SNAP participants and food-insecure households are less likely than higher income consumers to use their own vehicles for their primary food shopping, and more likely to use someone else's car, or to walk, bike, or take public transit.

  • Manufacturers' Bids for WIC Infant Formula Rebate Contracts, 2003-2013

    EIB-142, July 07, 2015

    In many States, there is a large disparity between the winning manufacturers' bids for WIC contracts and the bids of the first runners-up, as each manufacturer's bid involves a rebate to the State program that lowers the price to WIC.

  • WIC Experienced Largest Decrease in Participation in Program’s History in 2014

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2015

    In fiscal 2014, an average 8.3 million people per month participated in USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), 5 percent fewer than the previous year and the fourth consecutive annual decline in participation.

  • Painting a More Complete Picture of WIC: How WIC Impacts Nonparticipants

    Amber Waves, April 06, 2015

    USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) directly affects participants’ health through improved diets and greater use of health care services. WIC also indirectly impacts food choices, diet, and health of non-participants through its effects on food stores and food manufacturers.

  • Where Do Americans Usually Shop for Food and How Do They Travel To Get There? Initial Findings from the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey

    EIB-138, March 23, 2015

    This report compares food shopping patterns of (1) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households to nonparticipant households, (2) participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) to nonparticipants, and (3) food-insecure to food-secure households.

    Errata: On September 13, 2016, ERS revised the categorization of households with members categorically eligible for WIC to exclude households where the only categorically eligible member was a child age 5. These children were incorrectly included previously; imputed income measures were also used as these measures became available since the report’s release; revised survey weights were also used to update all estimates in the report. Because of these changes, all of the estimates in the report have been revised. However, the results were not numerically or substantively different after these revisions were made, with one exception— the result that WIC participants were more likely to use supercenters as their primary store was no longer statistically significant. The text has been adjusted to reflect all of these changes.

    The results from EIB-138 were used in three ERS Charts of Note dated March 23, 2015; July 15, 2015; and August 11, 2015; and an Amber Waves feature article “Most U.S. Households Do Their Main Grocery Shopping at Supermarkets and Supercenters Regardless of Income,” dated August 3, 2015. For all but the August 11, 2015, Chart of Note, changes in estimates were not numerically or substantively different. In the August 11, 2015, Chart of Note, the difference between WIC participants’ and nonparticipants’ choice of supercenters as their primary stores was no longer statistically significant.

  • The Food Assistance Landscape: FY 2014 Annual Report

    EIB-137, March 20, 2015

    Federal expenditures for USDA's domestic food and nutrition assistance programs totaled $103.6 billion in fiscal 2014, or 5 percent less than the previous fiscal year--the first decrease since 2000.

  • The WIC Program: Background, Trends, and Economic Issues, 2015 Edition

    EIB-134, January 27, 2015

    As WIC matures, emerging issues include equity concerns, food cost management, changes in the WIC food packages, the program's lesser known effects, and the impact of economic conditions on participation.

  • Measuring Access to Healthful, Affordable Food in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Areas

    EIB-131, December 01, 2014

    The study compares distances to outlets for obtaining healthy, affordable food in tribal areas to those for the general U.S. population, with implications for improving the health of tribal populations.

  • WIC Foods Cost More in Smaller Stores

    Amber Waves, September 08, 2014

    Researchers at ERS and University of California, Davis found that while small food stores in California authorized to serve WIC participants had significantly higher prices for WIC foods than larger retailers, prices were comparable among stores with five or more check-out registers.

  • Household Food Security in the United States in 2013: Statistical Supplement

    AP-066, September 03, 2014

    This is the statistical supplement for USDA's annual report on households' access to adequate food for active, healthy living.

  • Household Food Security in the United States in 2013

    ERR-173, September 03, 2014

    USDA annual food security statistics indicate that an estimated 14.3 percent of U.S. households were food insecure in 2013 - i.e., lacking consistent access to adequate, healthful food for household members.

  • Cost Containment in the WIC Program: Vendor Peer Groups and Reimbursement Rates

    ERR-171, August 19, 2014

    ERS examines two possible strategies for containing WIC program costs-inducing small vendors to lower prices, and eliminating the vendors in each vendor peer group (organized by size and geographic location) who have the highest prices.

  • 2014 Farm Act Maintains SNAP Eligibility Guidelines and Funds New Initiatives

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    The Agricultural Act of 2014 maintains SNAP’s basic eligibility guidelines and includes provisions designed to encourage SNAP recipients to choose healthy foods and to build the skills needed to increase their employment options. Other provisions aim to improve the food environment at schools and in low-income communities.

  • Differences in Per-Person Food Costs for SNAP and WIC Have Widened Over Time

    Amber Waves, July 07, 2014

    When the WIC program was initiated in 1974, the average monthly WIC food cost per person was similar to the average monthly SNAP benefit per person. In fiscal 2013, monthly SNAP benefits averaged $133 per person and per person food costs for WIC were $43 per month.

  • Competitive Grant To Establish a USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research

    AP-063, May 01, 2014

    ERS in partnership with USDA's Food and Nutrition Service is inviting proposals to establish the USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research. The USDA Center will apply behavioral economics to food choice behaviors, including consumer, food industry, and retailer behaviors, that are relevant to USDA policies, with special attention to the SNAP and WIC programs. Errata: On June 4, 2014, Table 1, "Specific Instructions for Application for Federal Domestic Assistance-Short Organizational (SF-424)," Item 6b-c was changed from "leave blank" to "enter the requested information."

  • Infant Formula Costs to the WIC Program Fall

    Amber Waves, March 04, 2014

    WIC State agencies enter into cost-containment contracts with infant formula manufacturers for formula provided to WIC participants. Contracts are awarded to the manufacturer offering the lowest net price (wholesale price minus the rebate offered by the manufacturer). A recent ERS study found that net prices had decreased in 20 of 22 WIC contracts awarded after 2008, resulting in annual savings of $107 million, holding retail markups constant.

  • The Food Assistance Landscape: FY 2013 Annual Report

    EIB-120, February 20, 2014

    Federal expenditures for USDA's domestic food and nutrition assistance programs totaled $108.9 billion in fiscal 2013, or 2 percent more than the previous fiscal year--the smallest annual increase in percentage terms since 2000.

  • USDA’s Food Assistance Programs: Legacies of the War on Poverty

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2014

    USDA’s food and nutrition assistance programs—many of which were conceived half a century ago—are still some of the Federal Government’s most important means of fighting poverty and improving the economic well-being of needy Americans.

  • Most Recent Recession Doubled Share of SNAP Households Receiving Unemployment Insurance

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2014

    A recent ERS study found that an estimated 14.4 percent of households participating in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also received unemployment insurance at some point in 2009—nearly double the estimate of 7.8 percent in 2005. The poorest and least educated SNAP households are the most likely to rely on SNAP alone.

  • Trends in Infant Formula Rebate Contracts: Implications for the WIC Program

    EIB-119, December 02, 2013

    Most WIC State agencies are currently paying lower net prices for infant formula (adjusting for inflation) than under the previous contracts they negotiated with manufacturers - allaying earlier concerns about rising prices.