Publications

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  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2005

    ERR-29, November 15, 2006

    Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2005, meaning that they had access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households were food insecure at least some time during that year. The prevalence of food insecurity declined from 11.9 percent of households in 2004 to 11.0 percent in 2005, while the prevalence of very low food security remained unchanged at 3.9 percent. This report, based on data from the December 2005 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.

  • The Food Assistance Landscape: FY 2006 Midyear Report

    EIB-6-3, September 15, 2006

    USDA expenditures for its 15 food assistance programs totaled $27.7 billion during the first half of fiscal 2006 (October 2005-March 2006), a 7-percent increase over the first half of fiscal 2005. Five programs-the Food Stamp Program; the National School Lunch Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); the School Breakfast Program; and the Child and Adult Care Food Program-accounted for 96 percent of USDA's total expenditures for food assistance. This report uses preliminary data from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to examine trends in the programs at the midpoint of fiscal 2006. It also summarizes a number of ERS research reports on the Food Stamp Program released in recent years that may help inform discussions of the 2007 reauthorization of the farm bill.

  • Profiles of Participants in the National School Lunch Program: Data From Two National Surveys

    EIB-17, August 25, 2006

    The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) serves more than 29 million children each day, but there is little information on the characteristics of those children. This study reports new estimates of NSLP participant characteristics using two national surveys: the 2001 Panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Study results also show that these two surveys are suitable sources of data on NSLP participants since they are consistent with more aggregated administrative data of the Food and Nutrition Service. The surveys supplement periodic characteristics data available from the School Nutrition and Dietary Assessment (SNDA) surveys.

  • The Income Volatility See-Saw: Implications for School Lunch

    ERR-23, August 15, 2006

    Income volatility challenges the effectiveness of the safety net that USDA food assistance programs provide low-income families. This study examines income volatility among households with children and the implications of volatility for eligibility in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The results show that income volatility was higher for successively lower income groups and that the major determinants of changes in NSLP eligibility were changes in total household hours worked and the share of working adults. Income volatility in two-thirds of lower income households caused one or more changes in their monthly NSLP eligibility during the year. An estimated 27 percent of households that were income eligible for subsidized lunches at the beginning of the school year were no longer income eligible for the same level of subsidy by December due to monthly income changes.

  • Nutrient Adequacy of Children Participating in WIC

    EB-8, April 20, 2006

    USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods to participants, in most cases through vouchers for retail purchase of foods designated as approved by the program. WIC food packages were initially designed to include foods rich in nutrients that were lacking in the diets of low-income participants. This brief summarizes two recent ERS-sponsored studies that provide new assessments of nutrient intakes of WIC children, income-eligible children not participating in the program, and children ineligible for the program.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Fiscal 2006, Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program: Description and Application Process

    AP-018, March 17, 2006

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program accepted proposals for grants and cooperative agreements for fiscal 2006. The three priority research areas were (1) Economic Incentives in Food Assistance Programs, (2) Food Assistance as a Safety Net, and (3) Food Choices, Obesity, and Human Capital. This publication describes the research areas and application requirements. Funding for competitive awards in fiscal 2006 was approximately $1.5 million. The deadline for proposal submission was May 22, 2006.

  • Food Assistance Landscape, March 2006

    EIB-6-2, February 15, 2006

    One in five Americans participates in at least one of USDA's food and nutrition assistance programs during the year. In fiscal 2005, an estimated 55 percent of USDA's budget supported the programs that provide children and low-income people with access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education. The Economic Research Service (ERS) is responsible for conducting studies and evaluations of USDA's food assistance programs. The Food Assistance Landscape March 2006 uses preliminary data from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to examine trends in the food assistance programs through fiscal 2005 (October 1, 2004 to September 30, 2005). It also discusses a recent ERS study that examined patterns of entry into and exit from the Food Stamp Program.

  • Food Assistance Landscape, September 2005

    EIB-6-1, October 04, 2005

    USDA expenditures for its 15 food assistance programs totaled $25.9 billion during the first half of fiscal 2005 (October 2004-March 2005), an 11-percent increase over the first half of fiscal 2004. Five programs-the Food Stamp Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the School Breakfast Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program-accounted for 95 percent of USDA's total expenditures for food assistance. Spending on each of these five programs grew during the first half of fiscal 2005 relative to the first half of fiscal year 2004, but most of the increase was due to the Food Stamp Program. This report uses preliminary data from the Food and Nutrition Service to examine trends in the programs at the midpoint of fiscal 2005. It also discusses a recent ERS report that presents findings from an evaluation of projects aimed at testing ways to increase Food Stamp Program participation among eligible elderly individuals.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Fiscal 2005, Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program: Description and Application Process

    AP-016, March 18, 2005

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program accepted proposals for grants and cooperative agreements for fiscal 2005. The three priority research areas were (1) Strengthening Economic Incentives in Food Assistance Programs, (2) Food Assistance as a Safety Net, and (3) Food Choices, Diet Quality, Obesity, and Health Outcomes. This publication describes the research areas and application requirements. Funding for competitive awards in fiscal 2005 was approximately $1.5 million. The deadline for proposal submission was May 23, 2005.

  • The Food Assistance Landscape, March 2005

    FANRR-28-6, February 16, 2005

    Expenditures for USDA's 15 food assistance programs totaled $46 billion in fiscal 2004 (October 1, 2003, to September 30, 2004), marking the second consecutive year in which spending exceeded the previous record high. The fiscal 2004 spending level represented a 10-percent increase from the previous fiscal year, the fourth consecutive year in which total food assistance expenditures increased. Five programs-the Food Stamp Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the School Breakfast Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program-accounted for 94 percent of USDA's total expenditures for food assistance. While each of these major programs expanded during fiscal 2004, most of the increase in total food assistance expenditures between fiscal 2003 and fiscal 2004 was due to the increase in Food Stamp Program expenditures.

  • Children's Consumption of WIC-Approved Foods

    FANRR-44, February 14, 2005

    This study compared consumption patterns of WIC children with those of three different comparison groups: eligible nonparticipating children living in non-WIC households, eligible nonparticipating children living in WIC households, and children living in households whose income is too high to be eligible for WIC. The study provides strong evidence that participation in the WIC program increases consumption of at least some types of WIC-approved foods.

  • Issues in Food Assistance-Effects of WIC Participation on Children's Food Consumption

    FANRR-26-11, February 14, 2005

    This study compared consumption patterns of WIC children with those of three different comparison groups: eligible nonparticipating children living in non-WIC households, eligible nonparticipating children living in WIC households, and children living in households whose income is too high to be eligible for WIC. The study provides strong evidence that participation in the WIC program increases consumption of at least some types of WIC-approved foods.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Volume II, WIC Participants and Nonparticipants

    EFAN-04014-2, December 30, 2004

    Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III), conducted in 1988-94, were used to compare the nutrition and health characteristics of participants and nonparticipants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This research was designed to establish a baseline from which to monitor the nutritional and health characteristics of WIC participants and nonparticipants over time. Because of age-based variations in the survey protocols and small samples of pregnant and postpartum women, data were not consistently available among women, infants, and children. Data availability was the richest for children and most limited for pregnant women.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program: Executive Summaries of 2003 Research Grants

    FANRR-43, December 13, 2004

    This report summarizes research findings for the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program. This report includes summaries of the research projects that were awarded 1-year grants in summer and fall 2002. The projects focus on food assistance and child well-being, food insecurity and hunger, the dynamics of food assistance program participation, obesity, and the role of community factors in dietary intake and food security. Some projects focus on specific populations, such as people living in the rural South and on American Indian reservations.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Volume III, School-Age Children

    EFAN-04014-3, December 01, 2004

    Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III), conducted in 1988-94, were used to compare the nutrition and health characteristics of the Nation's school-age children-boys and girls ages 5-18. Three groups of children were compared based on household income: income at or below 130 percent of poverty (lowest income), income between 131 and 185 percent of poverty (low income), and income above 185 percent of poverty (higher income). This research was designed to establish a baseline from which to monitor the nutrition and health characteristics of school-age children over time, particularly those in low-and lowest income groups.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Volume IV, Older Adults

    EFAN-04014-4, December 01, 2004

    Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III), conducted in 1988-94, were used to compare the nutrition and health characteristics of the Nation's older adults-men and women ages 60 years and older. Three groups of older adults were compared based on household income: income at or below 130 percent of poverty (lowest income), income between 131 and 185 percent of poverty (low income), and income above 185 percent of poverty (higher income). This research was designed to establish a baseline from which to monitor the nutrition and health characteristics of older Americans over time, particularly those in low- and lowest income groups.

  • Food Assistance Landscape, September 2004

    FANRR-28-5, October 19, 2004

    Expenditures for USDA's 15 food assistance programs totaled $23.3 billion during the first half of fiscal 2004 (October 1, 2003, to March 31, 2004), an 11-percent increase over the first half of fiscal 2003. If this trend continues during the second half of fiscal 2004, expenditures for the entire fiscal year will surpass the record $41.8 billion spent on food assistance in fiscal 2003 (prior to fiscal 2003, the previous historical record was $38.1 billion set in fiscal 1996). Five programs-the Food Stamp Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the School Breakfast Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program-accounted for almost 95 percent of USDA's total expenditures for food assistance. While each of these major programs expanded during the first half of fiscal 2004, most of the increase in total food assistance expenditures was due to the expansion of the Food Stamp Program.

  • Sharing the Economic Burden: Who Pays for WIC's Infant Formula

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2004

    Each month, USDA’s WIC program provides infant formula at no cost to almost 2 million nutritionally at-risk infants in low-income households. But while WIC’s infant formula is free to WIC participants, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Infant formula is no exception to this elementary lesson of economics.

  • Evaluating the Impact of School Nutrition Programs: Final Report

    EFAN-04008, July 13, 2004

    This study develops estimates of the efficacy of school nutrition programs in improving a broad range of dietary outcomes by comparing the nutritional status of students and their families during the school year with the status when school is out. The study finds evidence that children who have a School Breakfast Program (SBP) available consume a better overall diet, consume a lower percentage of calories from fat, are less likely to have a low intake of magnesium, and are less likely to have low serum levels of vitamin C and folate. For every outcome examined, SBP availability either promotes better outcomes or at the least does not promote worse outcomes. The results of this study suggest that the availability of an SBP has beneficial effects for children. This report describes the study's broad evaluation of the SBP and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The study used the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey III (NHANES III)-a nationally representative data set that contains detailed information on food consumption, a complete clinical exam, and a laboratory report for respondents.

  • Innovative WIC Practices: Profiles of 20 Programs

    EFAN-04007, June 11, 2004

    WIC provides supplemental food, nutrition education, and social service referrals to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children younger than age 5. WIC has come under increased scrutiny as it has expanded rapidly, and some have suggested new directions for the program. This study examines a range of innovative practices at 20 State or local WIC agencies. The study focuses on practices in three main areas: breastfeeding promotion and support (including peer counseling and programs for high-risk groups), nutrition and health education (including obesity prevention, preventive health care, and staff training), and service delivery (such as home and workplace visits). For each innovative program, the report provides background information and discusses the source of the innovation, key challenges, implementation lessons learned, evidence of its success, and the feasibility of replicating the practice.