Publications

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  • Food Security of SNAP Recipients Improved Following the 2009 Stimulus Package

    Amber Waves, June 13, 2011

    Food spending by low-income households increased and their food security improved as a result of the increase in SNAP benefit levels authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

  • Food Security Improved Following the 2009 ARRA Increase in SNAP Benefits

    ERR-116, April 26, 2011

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 increased benefit levels for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) and expanded SNAP eligibility for jobless adults without children. One goal of the program changes was to improve the food security of low-income households. We find that food expenditures by low-income households increased by about 5.4 percent and their food insecurity declined by 2.2 percentage points from 2008 to 2009. Food security did not improve for households with incomes somewhat above the SNAP eligibility range. These findings, based on data from the nationally representative Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement, suggest that the ARRA SNAP enhancements contributed substantially to improvements for low-income households.

  • 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.

  • More Americans Relied on Food Assistance During Recession

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2010

    In 2009, 14.7 percent of U.S. households (17.4 million) were food insecure. The slight increase from 2008 (14.6 percent of all households) marks the highest level observed since food security surveys were initiated in 1995.

  • 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

  • Food Insecurity in Households With Children Increased in 2008

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    In 2008, 21 percent of U.S. households with children were food insecure, up from 16 percent in 2006 and 2007. The prevalence of food insecurity in households with children in 2008 was the highest recorded since the Federal Government began monitoring household food security in 1995.

  • Food Insecurity up in Recessionary Times

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    The recent economic downturn has brought a sharp increase in the number of Americans who report having difficulty meeting their food needs. In fact, in 2008, the number and percentage of U.S. households classified as "food insecure" reached the highest level recorded since Federal monitoring of food insecurity began in 1995.

  • On the Map: South and Midwest Hit Hardest by Rising Food Insecurity

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    Worsening economic conditions were accompanied by sizable increases in 2008 in the number of U.S. households experiencing food insecurity. Regionally, increases were largest in the South and the Midwest, where an additional 2.8 and 1.7 million households, respectively, were food insecure in 2008, compared with 1999.

  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2008

    ERR-83, November 16, 2009

    Eighty-five percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2008, meaning that they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households (14.6 percent) were food insecure at least some time during the year, including 5.7 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. Prevalence rates of food insecurity and very low food security were up from 11.1 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively, in 2007, and were the highest recorded since 1995, when the first national food security survey was conducted. The typical food-secure household spent 31 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition. Fifty-five 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 2008 survey.

  • Does SNAP Decrease Food Insecurity? Untangling the Self-Selection Effect

    ERR-85, October 29, 2009

    Self-selection by more food-needy households into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called the Food Stamp Program) makes it difficult to observe positive effects of the program in survey data. This study investigates self-selection and ameliorative program effects by examining households' food security month by month for several months prior to initial receipt of SNAP benefits and for several months after joining the program. Two-year panels are constructed by matching the same households interviewed in the Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement in 2 consecutive years using data from 2001 to 2006. Food security is observed to deteriorate in the 6 months prior to beginning to receive SNAP benefits and to improve shortly after. The results clearly demonstrate the self-selection by households into SNAP at a time when they are more severely food insecure. The results are consistent with a moderate ameliorative effect of SNAP-reducing the prevalence of very low food security among recent entrants by about one-third-although they do not conclusively demonstrate that extent of amelioration.

  • Food Spending Declined and Food Insecurity Increased for Middle-Income and Low-Income Households from 2000 to 2007

    EIB-61, October 23, 2009

    From 2000 to 2007, food spending by middle- and low-income households grew more slowly than food prices, and national prevalence of very low food insecurity (food intakes reduced) rose from 3.1 percent in 2000 to 4.1 in 2007.

  • RIDGE Project Summaries, 2008: Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Program

    AP-040, September 30, 2009

    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 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 2007. The results of these research projects were presented at the RIDGE conference in October 2008. The projects include analyses of WIC vendor access and fruit and vegetable availability, effects of food insecurity on the development of infants and toddlers, administrative data to evaluate CACFP in family child care homes, the economics of the Thrifty Food Plan, and food stamp use among the elderly. Several 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.

  • Food Insecurity in Households with Children: Prevalence, Severity, and Household Characteristics

    EIB-56, September 21, 2009

    New report describes the prevalence and severity of food insecurity in households with children as of 2007, the trends since 1999, and characteristics of households affected by food insecurity.

  • A Comparison of Household Food Security in Canada and the United States

    ERR-67, December 29, 2008

    Using nationally representative surveys from the United States and Canada, ERS compares rates of food insecurity in economic and demographic subgroups of the two countries.

  • A Pilot Program for U.S. Food Aid

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2008

    The sharp rise in food and fuel prices since 2006 has added to existing concerns about food security in developing countries. Under a pilot program for food aid in the 2008 Farm Act, the U.S. has made a commitment to provide cash of $60 million over 4 years to be used for local food purchases in recipient countries.

  • RIDGE Project Summaries, 2007: Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Program

    AP-029, July 31, 2008

    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 2006. The results of these research projects were presented at the RIDGE conference in October 2007. The projects include analyses of the influence of WIC on children's health at birth, impacts of Food Stamp Program participation on weight gained by expectant mothers, community influence on food assistance and dietary choices, and economic effects of a policy to provide government-subsidized price discounts for the purchase of fruits and vegetables by food stamp recipients. 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.

  • The National School Lunch Program Background, Trends, and Issues

    ERR-61, July 18, 2008

    The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the Nation's second largest food and nutrition assistance program. In 2006, it operated in over 101,000 public and nonprofit private schools and provided over 28 million low-cost or free lunches to children on a typical school day at a Federal cost of $8 billion for the year. This report provides background information on the NSLP, including historical trends and participant characteristics. It also addresses steps being taken to meet challenges facing administrators of the program, including tradeoffs between nutritional quality of foods served, costs, and participation, as well as between program access and program integrity.

  • Food Stamps and Obesity: What Do We Know?

    EIB-34, March 21, 2008

    Results from reviewed studies indicate that for most Food Stamp Program participants, use of food stamp benefits does not result in an increase in Body Mass Index or the likelihood of being overweight or obese.

  • Informing Food and Nutrition Assistance Policy: 10 Years of Research at ERS

    MP-1598, December 06, 2007

    Since 1998, Congress has provided funds to ERS to study and evaluate the Nation's domestic food and nutrition assistance programs. ERS has become the premier source of food and nutrition assistance research in the United States, sponsoring over 600 publications on a wide range of topics related to food and nutrition assistance. This report, prepared at the 10-year anniversary of the FANRP program, highlights some of the key research conducted during the program's first decade.