Publications

Sort by: Title | Date
  • 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.

  • Interstate Variation in WIC Food Package Costs: The Role of Food Prices, Caseload Composition, and Cost-Containment Practices

    FANRR-41, January 11, 2005

    Food prices within States affect average monthly costs of State food benefits packages provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) more than variations in WIC caseload composition do. In addition, cost-containment practices by State WIC agencies provide different levels of cost savings in different areas, which also contributes to interstate variation in benefits package costs. This study is one of the few to examine the degree to which food prices, caseloads, and cost-containment practices influence costs of State WIC food benefits packages. Because few data exist on the actual food items that WIC participants purchase, the study used a scanner dataset of supermarket transactions and other sources to estimate the average monthly cost of WIC food benefits in several areas.

  • Supermarket Characteristics and Operating Costs in Low-Income Areas

    AER-839, December 15, 2004

    Whether the poor pay more for food than other income groups is an important question in food price policy research. Stores serving low-income shoppers differ in important ways from stores that receive less of their revenues from Food Stamp redemptions. Stores with more revenues from Food Stamps are generally smaller and older, and offer relatively fewer convenience services for shoppers. They also offer a different mix of products, with a relatively high portion of sales coming from meat and private-label products. Metro stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates lag behind other stores in the adoption of progressive supply chain and human resource practices. Finally, stores with the highest Food Stamp redemption rates have lower sales margins relative to other stores, but have significantly lower payroll costs as a percentage of sales. Overall, operating costs for stores with high Food Stamp redemption rates are not significantly different from those for stores with moderate Food Stamp redemption rates. If the poor do pay more, factors other than operating costs are likely to be the reason.

  • 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.

  • Effects of Food Assistance and Nutrition Programs on Nutrition and Health: Volume 3, Literature Review

    FANRR-19-3, December 09, 2004

    This report provides a comprehensive review and synthesis of published research on the impact of USDA's domestic food and nutrition assistance programs on participants' nutrition and health outcomes. The outcome measures reviewed include food expenditures, household nutrient availability, dietary intake, other measures of nutrition status, food security, birth outcomes, breastfeeding behaviors, immunization rates, use and cost of health care services, and selected nonhealth outcomes, such as academic achievement and school performance (children) and social isolation (elderly). The report is one of four volumes produced by a larger study that includes Volume 1, Research Design; Volume 2, Data Sources; Volume 3, Literature Review; and Volume 4, Executive Summary of the Literature Review. The review examines the research on 15 USDA food assistance programs but tends to focus on the largest ones for which more research is available: food stamps, school feeding programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Over half of USDA's budget-$41.6 billion in fiscal year 2003-was devoted to food assistance and nutrition programs that provide low-income families and children with access to a healthy diet.

  • Effects of Food Assistance and Nutrition Programs on Nutrition and Health: Volume 4, Executive Summary of the Literature Review

    FANRR-19-4, December 07, 2004

    This report provides a summary of a comprehensive review and synthesis of published research on the impact of USDA's domestic food and nutrition assistance programs on participants' nutrition and health outcomes. The outcome measures reviewed include food expenditures, household nutrient availability, dietary intake, other measures of nutrition status, food security, birth outcomes, breastfeeding behaviors, immunization rates, use and cost of health care services, and selected nonhealth outcomes, such as academic achievement and school performance (children) and social isolation (elderly). The report is one of four volumes produced by a larger study that includes Volume 1, Research Design; Volume 2, Data Sources; Volume 3, Literature Review; and Volume 4, Executive Summary of the Literature Review. The review examines the research on 15 USDA food assistance and nutrition programs but tends to focus on the largest ones for which more research is available: food stamps, school feeding programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Over half of USDA's budget-$41.6 billion in fiscal year 2003-was devoted to food assistance and nutrition programs that provide low-income families and children with access to a healthy diet.

  • Estimating Longrun Food Stamp Program Caseloads

    EFAN-04013, December 03, 2004

    This study analyzes the relationship between Food Stamp Program (FSP) caseloads and the macroeconomy using annual State-level panel data for 1980-99. It is the first study to link the time-series properties of the data to an interpretation of public assistance program policy. A longrun relationship involving FSP caseload equation and the macroeconomy is estimated but requires that Aid to Families with Dependent Children/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (AFDC/TANF) caseloads be included as an explanatory variable. The resulting equation that connects trends in the economy with the trend in FSP caseloads indicates that the economic expansion in the 1990s permanently lowered future FSP caseloads below what they would be otherwise. The potential for the economy to change the trend in FSP caseloads is in contrast to its role presented in previous studies in which the economic expansion of the 1990s is seen as causing only a temporary decrease in FSP caseloads that dies out over time. Tests of the estimated equation also indicate that the common practice of including year effects (annual dummy variables) or State-specific time trend in the FSP caseload equation may overcontrol for omitted variables. Instead, trends in the regressors should be allowed to explain the trend in FSP caseloads.

  • 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.

  • Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Volume I, Food Stamp Program Participants and Nonparticipants

    EFAN-04014-1, 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 participants and nonparticipants in the Food Stamp Program (FSP). FSP participants were compared with two groups of nonparticipants-those who were income-eligible for the FSP (income at or below 130 percent of poverty) and those with higher incomes (income above 130 percent of poverty). This research was designed to establish a baseline from which to monitor the nutritional and health characteristics of FSP participants and nonparticipants over time.

  • Food Stamp Program Access Study: Final Report

    EFAN-03013-3, November 17, 2004

    The Food Stamp Program Access Study was motivated by a desire to learn whether and how the administrative policies and practices of local food stamp offices influence the chances of eligible households participating in the program. This report examines the participation decisions of potentially eligible households, together with the local office policies and practices that may enhance or inhibit program access. The findings indicate that many households with no recent contact with the FSP would apply for benefits if they believed themselves to be eligible. In addition, outreach activities are effective in communicating eligibility to nonparticipating households. The processes of application and recertification-and to a lesser extent, complying with ongoing program requirements-are hurdles that a sizable number of apparently eligible households fail to surmount. When surveyed, applicants and program dropouts cited various procedural obstacles as factors in their decision not to participate. The econometric analysis also identifies a number of office practices that vary across offices and appear to be significant in participation decisions.

  • Food Stamp Certification Periods and Payment Accuracy: State Experience During 1997-2001

    EFAN-04012, November 12, 2004

    Quality control (QC) reviews of Food Stamp Program (FSP) cases show that error rates across States range from less than 5 percent to more than 25 percent when both overpayment and underpayment error are combined. This study uses QC data for 1997-2001 and a Markov probability framework to characterize year-to-year national and State error rates into variations due to errors occurring with first-month cases (those approved at initial certification); ongoing cases (those subject to the interim action process); and expiring cases (those subject to the recertification process). This information can be used in planning corrective actions by focusing attention on phases of the administrative process that are more responsible for errors. This study also explores the effect on payment accuracy and FSP participation of more frequent recertification of food stamp cases. A motivating concern is that the use of short certification periods (3 months or less) as a strategy to reduce case error may unintentionally reduce program participation.

  • The Role of Economics in Eating Choices and Weight Outcomes

    AIB-791, October 28, 2004

    This report uses data from the USDA's 1994-96 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals and the 1994-96 Diet and Health Knowledge Survey to ascertain whether economic factors help explain weight differences among adults. Weight differs among demographic subgroups, and differences in specific behaviors, health awareness, and eating patterns can be linked to weight outcomes. An economic framework helps explain how socioeconomic factors affect an individual's ability to achieve good health. Our results suggest that income, household composition, and formal education help explain variation in behaviors and attitudes that are significantly associated with weight outcomes.

  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2003

    FANRR-42, October 26, 2004

    Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2003, 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, 11.2 percent of households, was not statistically different from the 11.1 percent observed in 2002. The prevalence of food insecurity with hunger was unchanged at 3.5 percent. This report, based on data from the December 2003 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.

  • 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.

  • Understanding the Food Stamp Program Participation Decisions of TANF Leavers

    EFAN-04011, September 15, 2004

    This paper evaluates factors affecting the decision by families that leave the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to participate in the Food Stamp Program (FSP). Linked Illinois State-level administrative data are combined with Census data and data from the Illinois Families Study survey to evaluate the FSP take-up decision of TANF leavers 3 years after leaving the welfare rolls. Results indicate that in Chicago, neighborhood characteristics and knowledge of FSP eligibility at the district office level are important factors in understanding the FSP participation decision of TANF leavers even after individual or family-level demographic characteristics are taken into account. This evidence suggests that the density of social networks among the food-stamp-eligible population in the district office areas may mediate the effects of office outreach and communication strategies.

  • Prototype Notebook: Short Questions on Dietary Intake, Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors

    EFAN-04010, September 10, 2004

    This report provides a compendium of 128 survey questions used in previous research to assess dietary knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors for low-income populations over the age of 18. The short questions or sets of questions on nine topics, including fruits and vegetables; grains, legumes, and fiber; variety; fat; calcium food sources; nonalcoholic beverages; knowledge, attitudes; and behaviors, are drawn from an extensive inventory and evaluation of available questions reported in the research literature. Each question is presented using a common template including the citations, data sources, and characteristics such as question reliability, validity, sensitivity to change, availability in other languages, mode of administration, use in populations with low-income and/or low-education levels, relation to nutrition and health outcomes, and availability of comparative data. This report is part of a larger ERS research effort to develop a common core set of questions to assess the dietary behavior impact of Food Stamp Nutrition Education (FSNE) on Food Stamp Program participants.

  • 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.