Publications

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  • 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.

  • Household Food Security and Tradeoffs in the Food Budget of Food Stamp Program Participants: An Engel Function Approach

    CCR-38, March 10, 2008

    This study develops a framework for differentiating true Food Stamp Program (FSP) impacts on food security from those that arise because households with the most severe food-related hardships are more likely to participate in the program. The framework hypothesizes that food spending improvements are the likely causal link between FSP participation and enhanced food security.

  • 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.

  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2007

    ERR-66, November 17, 2007

    Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2007, meaning that they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households (11.1 percent) were food insecure at least some time during the year. About one-third of food insecure households (4.1 percent of all U.S. households) had very low food security-meaning that the food intake of one or more adults 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 essentially unchanged from those in 2005 and 2006.

  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2006

    ERR-49, November 14, 2007

    Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2006, meaning that they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households (10.9 percent) were food insecure at least some time during the year. About one-third of food insecure households (4.0 percent of all U.S. households) had very low food security-meaning that the food intake of one or more adults 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 essentially unchanged from those in 2005. The typical food-secure household spent 31 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition. Just over half 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 USDA's annual Food Security Survey.

  • Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs and Obesity: 1976-2002

    ERR-48, September 21, 2007

    ERS investigated the extent to which overweight and obesity have increased over time among food food and nutrition assistance recipients compared with nonrecipient groups.

  • Characteristics of Low-Income Households With Very Low Food Security: An Analysis of the USDA GPRA Food Security Indicator

    EIB-25, May 31, 2007

    ERS provides information on the composition, location, employment, education, and other characteristics of households that experienced very low food security.

  • What Factors Account for State-to-State Differences in Food Security?

    EIB-20, November 15, 2006

    States differ in the extent to which their residents are food secure-meaning that they have consistent access to enough food for active, healthy living. The prevalence of food security in a State depends not only on the characteristics of households in the State, such as their income, employment, and household structure, but also on State-level characteristics, such as average wages, cost of housing, levels of participation in food assistance programs, and tax policies. Taken together, an identified set of household-level and State-level factors account for most of the State-to-State differences in food security. Some State-level factors point to specific policies that are likely to improve food security, such as policies that increase the supply of affordable housing, promote the use of Federal food assistance programs, or reduce the total tax burden on low-income households.

  • 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.

  • Food Security Assessment 2005, GFA 17

    GFA-17, May 31, 2006

    In 2005, 777 million people were food insecure in 70 lower income countries studied in this report. On average, there has been a slight decline in the number of hungry people from 688 million in 1992-94 to 639 million in 2002-04. Both Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States experienced a 30-percent drop in the number of hungry people. The number in Latin America and the Caribbean has varied slightly over time, but there has been no discernible trend across the region as a whole. Despite strong growth in food production, Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where the number of hungry people has risen-over 19 percent-during the last decade.

  • 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.

  • State-Level Predictors of Food Insecurity and Hunger Among Households With Children

    CCR-13, October 18, 2005

    This report examines interstate variation in household food security. Using hierarchical modeling, we identify several contextual dimensions that appear linked to household food security: the availability and accessibility of Federal nutrition assistance programs, policies affecting economic well-being of low-income families, and States’ economic and social characteristics. We find that a strong food security infrastructure particularly benefits families that are economically vulnerable yet have incomes above the poverty line.

  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2004

    ERR-11, October 14, 2005

    Eighty-eight percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2004, 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 rose from 11.2 percent of households in 2003 to 11.9 percent in 2004 and the prevalence of food insecurity with hunger rose from 3.5 percent to 3.9 percent. This report, based on data from the December 2004 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. Survey responses indicate that the typical food-secure household in the U.S. spent 31 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition. Just over one-half of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food assistance programs during the month prior to the survey. About 20 percent of food-insecure households-3.5 percent of all U.S. households-obtained emergency food from a food pantry at some time during the year.

  • 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 Security Assessment, GFA 16

    GFA-16, April 28, 2005

    Just over 1 billion people in the 70 low-income countries studied in this report are estimated to have consumed less than the recommended nutritional requirements in 2004. This marks an increase from more than 830 million in 2003. Over the coming decade, food security is projected to improve most significantly in Asia, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean. The situation is expected to deteriorate in Sub-Saharan Africa, where deep poverty, political unrest, and the effects of HIV/AIDS hinder prospects for improvement.

  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2005

    USDA monitors the food security of the Nation's households through an annual, nationally representative household survey. Food security for a household means that all household members have access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security is a foundation for a healthy, well-nourished population. In the food security survey, about 50,000 surveyed households respond to a series of questions about food expenditures, use of Federal and community food assistance programs, and behaviors and experiences known to characterize households having difficulty meeting their food needs.