Publications

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  • Household Food Security in the United States in 2012

    ERR-155, September 04, 2013

    An estimated 14.5 percent of U.S. households were food insecure some time in 2012, essentially unchanged from 2011. The share included 5.7 percent with very low food security.

  • Statistical Supplement to Household Food Security in the United States in 2012

    AP-061, September 04, 2013

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

  • Food Insecurity in Households With Children: Prevalence, Severity, and Household Characteristics, 2010-11

    EIB-113, May 30, 2013

    In 2011, nearly 21 percent of households with children were food insecure. ERS describes the extent and severity of child food insecurity by household characteristics.

  • Food Assistance Landscape: FY 2012 Annual Report

    EIB-109, March 15, 2013

    In FY 2012, about 1 in 4 Americans participated in at least one of USDA's 15 food and nutrition assistance programs. Expenditures for these programs totaled $106.7 billion, 3 percent more than the previous fiscal year.

  • How Economic Conditions Affect Participation in USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs

    EIB-100, September 21, 2012

    ERS examines the relationship between economic conditions and participation across USDA's five largest nutrition assistance programs, and describes how changes in policies and other factors affect participation.

  • Statistical Supplement to Household Food Security in the United States in 2011

    AP-058, September 05, 2012

    This Supplement contains statistics that complement those provided in the Economic Research Report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2011 (ERR-141). The Research Report provides the primary national statistics on household food security, food spending, and use of Federal food and nutrition assistance programs by food-insecure households. This Supplement provides additional statistics on component items of the household food security measure, the frequency-of-occurrence of food-insecure conditions, and selected statistics on household food security, food spending, and use of Federal and community food and nutrition assistance programs.

  • Household Food Security in the United States in 2011

    ERR-141, September 05, 2012

    The overall percentage of food-insecure U.S. households in 2011 was essentially unchanged from 2010. ERS monitors food security in an annual survey.

  • The Food Assistance Landscape: FY 2011 Annual Report

    EIB-93, March 19, 2012

    ERS reports trends in USDA's food and nutrition assistance programs through fiscal 2011. Federal expenditures for these programs totaled $103.3 billion in fiscal 2011, 8 percent above the previous fiscal year.

  • Statistical Supplement to Household Food Security in the United States in 2010

    AP-057, September 07, 2011

    This Supplement provides statistics that complement those in the Economic Research Report Household Food Security in the United States in 2010 (ERR-125). The Research Report provides the primary national statistics on household food security, food spending, and use of Federal food and nutrition assistance programs by food-insecure households. This Supplement provides additional statistics on component items of the household food security measure, the frequency-of-occurrence of food-insecure conditions, and selected statistics on household food security, food spending, and use of Federal and community food and nutrition assistance programs.

  • Household Food Security in the United States in 2010

    ERR-125, September 07, 2011

    An estimated 85.5 percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2010, meaning that they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households (14.5 percent) were food insecure at least some time during the year, including 5.4 percent with very low food security-meaning that the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food. The prevalence rate of very low food security declined from 5.7 percent in 2009, while the change in food insecurity overall (from 14.7 percent in 2009) was not statistically significant. The typical food-secure household spent 27 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition. Fifty-nine percent of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food and nutrition assistance programs during the month prior to the 2010 survey.

  • Winner Takes (Almost) All: How WIC Affects the Infant Formula Market

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2011

    In exchange for exclusive sales arrangements, manufacturers provide large rebates to States for formula purchased through the program. Winning a WIC contract significantly increases a manufacturer's market share.

  • The Infant Formula Market: Consequences of a Change in the WIC Contract Brand

    ERR-124, August 18, 2011

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is the major purchaser of infant formula in the United States. To reduce cost to the WIC program, each State awards a sole-source contract to a formula manufacturer to provide its product to WIC participants in the State. As part of the contract, the WIC State agency receives rebates from the manufacturers. In this study, we use 2004-09 Nielsen scanner-based retail sales data from over 7,000 stores in 30 States to examine the effect of winning a WIC sole-source contract on infant formula manufacturers' market share in supermarkets. We find that the manufacturer holding the WIC contract brand accounted for the vast majority-84 percent-of all formula sold by the top three manufacturers. The impact of a switch in the manufacturer that holds the WIC contract was considerable. The market share of the manufacturer of the new WIC contract brand increased by an average 74 percentage points after winning the contract. Most of this increase was a direct effect of WIC recipients switching to the new WIC contract brand. However, manufacturers also realized a spillover effect from winning the WIC contract whereby sales of formula purchased outside of the program also increased.

  • The WIC Fruit and Vegetable Cash Voucher: Does Regional Price Variation Affect Buying Power?

    EIB-75, May 04, 2011

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods to low-income women, infants, and children at nutritional risk. Since October 2009, WIC packages have included a fixed-value voucher for purchasing fruits and vegetables. Although this should help increase fruit and vegetable consumption for all WIC participants, regional price variation could lead to different buying power-and nutritional benefits-across the country. Using 2004-06 Nielsen Homescan data, the authors examine the prices of fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, and canned) in 26 metropolitan market areas to determine how price variations affect the voucher's purchasing power. The authors find that the 20 most commonly purchased fruits and vegetables cost 30-70 percent more in the highest priced market areas than in the lowest, implying that WIC participants in more expensive areas might be able to purchase fewer fruits and vegetables than those living where these items are cheaper. The lowest priced market for fruits and vegetables was the Nashville, Birmingham, Memphis, and Louisville area, while the highest was San Francisco.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program Final Report: Fiscal 2010 Activities

    AP-053, January 28, 2011

    This report summarizes ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program (FANRP) activities and accomplishments in fiscal 2010, including newly awarded projects and recent publications. 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) Program Outcomes and Economic Well-Being of Participants, (2) Program Access and Economic Determinants of Participation, and (3) Program Dynamics and Efficiency. Within these broad themes, FANRP identifies priority areas for research emphasis annually.

  • WIC Participation Patterns: An Investigation of Delayed Entry & Early Exit

    ERR-109, December 28, 2010

    Despite the health benefits of participation, many eligible households do not participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). While roughly half of infants born in the United States receive WIC benefits, USDA statistics indicate that eligible pregnant women and children 1-5 years of age are far less likely to participate in WIC than eligible infants and postpartum women. This implies that a number of pregnant women delay enrollment until after having a child, and that many households leave the program when a participating child turns 1 year old. Research on the factors that influence the dynamics of WIC participation can inform outreach and targeting efforts, so that vulnerable populations receive adequate exposure to the benefits of WIC participation.

  • WIC Infants Less Likely To Be Exclusively Breastfed

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2010

    ERS and American University researchers found that women who participate in WIC are less likely than income-eligible nonparticipants to exclusively breastfeed their newborns. WIC mothers are also more likely to adhere to the AAP recommendation that cow’s milk be introduced no earlier than 12 months of age.

  • RIDGE Project Summaries, 2009: Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Program

    AP-051, November 24, 2010

    This report summarizes research findings from the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Program (RIDGE), formerly known as the Small Grants Program. The Economic Research Service created the program in 1998 to stimulate new and innovative research on food and nutrition assistance issues and to broaden the network of social scientists that collaborate in investigating the food and nutrition challenges that exist across communities, regions, and States. The report includes summaries of the research findings of projects that were awarded 1-year grants in summer and fall 2008. The results of these research projects were presented at the RIDGE conference in October 2009. The projects include analyses of the impact of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children on food insecurity and childhood health outcomes, cognitive achievement and the School Breakfast Program, childhood obesity, food choices, and food stamp use among the elderly. Several of the projects focus on specific populations, such as immigrants, Native Americans, or people living in the rural South. Disclaimer: The studies summarized herein were conducted under research grants originating with the Economic Research Service. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of ERS or USDA.

  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2009

    ERR-108, November 10, 2010

    The percentage of U.S. households that were food insecure in 2009 was 14.7 percent. Though that level is essentially unchanged from 2008, the levels in both years are the highest recorded since monitoring began in 1995

  • Post Welfare Reform, the Poorest Children Receive Lower Benefits

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2010

    Welfare reform brought sweeping changes to Federal assistance programs. An ERS report indicates that the current “safety net” has gaps, particularly for children in the poorest households. On average, total household resources for children in the poorest households declined from 1990 to 2004.

  • Most Infant Formula Purchased Through WIC

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    ERS estimates that 57-68 percent of all infant formula sold in the U.S. in 2004-06 was purchased through WIC. Savings from rebates provided from formula manufacturers supported about 25 percent of the estimated average monthly WIC caseload in fiscal 2008.