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  • Establishing a Web-Based Data Collection System for National School Lunch and National School Breakfast Program Data: Technical Report

    EFAN-04005-3, June 01, 2004

    This report is a followup to an initiative to establish a central website to collect data from States on the National School Lunch and the School Breakfast Programs. A central website could be used by researchers and program administrators to compare and analyze data across State and local areas for participation trends in local school district programs. The report provides an implementation plan for establishing a central website, including potential costs, benefits, and alternatives. The initiative is one of three that have the potential to improve the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of research on Federal food assistance and nutrition programs. The other initiatives are addressed in the reports Linking the Current Population Survey and State Food Stamp Program Administrative Data (E-FAN-04-005-1) and Linking WIC Program Data to Medicaid and Vital Records Data (E-FAN-04-005-2).

  • WIC and the Retail Price of Infant Formula

    FANRR-39-1, June 01, 2004

    Rebates from infant formula manufacturers to State agencies that administer the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) support over one-quarter of all WIC participants. However, concerns have been raised that WIC and its infant formula rebate program may significantly affect the infant formula prices faced by non-WIC consumers. This report presents findings from the most comprehensive national study of infant formula prices at the retail level. For a given set of wholesale prices, WIC and its infant formula rebate program resulted in modest increases in the supermarket price of infant formula, especially in States with a high percentage of WIC formula-fed infants. However, lower priced infant formulas are available to non-WIC consumers in most areas of the country, and the number of these lower priced alternatives is increasing over time.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Fiscal 2004, Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program: Description and Application Process

    AP-014, March 19, 2004

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program accepted proposals for grants and cooperative agreements for fiscal 2004. The three priority research areas were (1) Strengthening Economic Incentives in Food Assistance Programs, (2) Food Assistance as a Safety Net, and (3) Obesity, Diet Quality, and Health Outcomes. This publication describes the research areas and application requirements. Funding for competitive awards in fiscal 2004 was approximately $1.0-1.5 million. The deadline for proposal submission was May 24, 2004.

  • The Food Assistance Landscape, March 2004

    FANRR-28-4, February 25, 2004

    USDA's domestic food assistance programs affect the daily lives of millions of people. About 1 in 5 Americans is estimated to participate in at least 1 of 15 food assistance programs at some point during the year. Expenditures for USDA's 15 food assistance programs increased 9.4 percent in fiscal year 2003 to $41.6 billion. This exceeded the previous historical record of $38.1 billion that was spent on food assistance 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 94 percent of USDA's total expenditures for food assistance, with the expansion of the Food Stamp Program being the cause of most of the total increase in food assistance expenditures between fiscal years 2002 and 2003.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program: Executive Summaries of 2002 Research Grants

    FANRR-38, November 19, 2003

    This report summarizes research findings from the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program. The Economic Research Service created the program in 1998 to stimulate new and innovative research on food assistance and nutrition issues and to broaden the participation of social science scholars in these issues. The report includes summaries of the research projects that were awarded 1-year grants in summer and fall 2001. The results of these research projects were presented at the October 2002 Small Grants Program conference. The projects focus on food insecurity and hunger, nutritional status and diet quality, Federal food assistance program participation, and the role of private-sector organizations in the provision of food assistance. Some projects focus on specific populations, such as people living in the rural South and those living on American Indian reservations.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program: Executive Summaries of 2001 Research Grants

    FANRR-37, November 10, 2003

    This report summarizes research findings from the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program. The Economic Research Service created the program in 1998 to stimulate new and innovative research on food assistance and nutrition issues and to broaden the participation of social science scholars in these issues. The report includes summaries of the research projects that were awarded 1-year grants in summer and fall 2000. The results of these research projects were presented at the 2001 Small Grants Program conference. The projects focus on food insecurity and hunger, nutritional outcomes, and the causes and consequences of food assistance program participation. Some projects focus on specific populations, such as people living in the rural South and on American Indian reservations.

  • Free Fruit and Vegetable Snacks a Big Hit in Schools

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2003

    Free fruit and vegetable snacks were provided to over 64,000 children in 107 elementary and secondary schools as part of USDA's Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program during the 2002-03 school year. The program was popular among most students, parents, school teachers, principals, pilot managers, foodservice staff, and representatives of State child nutrition programs.

  • Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program-Impacts on Program Access and Integrity

    EFAN-03009, October 07, 2003

    About 61 percent of school districts used direct certification in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in the 2001-02 school year, the same share as in 1996. Direct certification increased the number of children certified for free meals by about 400,000 and slightly increased overall NSLP participation. Under direct certification, school districts use information from State welfare or food stamp offices to certify children to receive free meals. To qualify, the children's families must receive food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or assistance from the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. Children's families who are directly certified do not have to complete certification applications. Direct certification was designed primarily to improve NSLP access and administrative efficiency. The Executive Summary provides highlights and the full report provides details of a study on the prevalence of direct certification, its implementation methods, and its effects on NSLP access and integrity.

  • Food Assistance Landscape, September 2003

    FANRR-28-3, September 30, 2003

    Domestic food assistance programs account for over half of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) outlays. Each year, about 1 in 5 Americans is served by 1 or more of the 15 food assistance programs aimed at improving the nutrition, well-being, and food security of needy Americans. The Economic Research Service (ERS) is responsible for conducting studies and evaluations of USDA's food assistance programs, focusing on the benefits of improved diets and food choices, factors that influence diet and nutrition, and program outcomes. This report uses preliminary data from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to examine trends in the food assistance programs at the midpoint of fiscal 2003. It also discusses two recent congressionally mandated studies conducted by ERS: an assessment of WIC cost-containment practices, and an evaluation of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief--The USDA Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program Evaluation

    FANRR-34-14, August 21, 2003

    Getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables can be a significant challenge. A recent ERS study found one program was very successful in achieving the difficult objective. Many elementary and secondary students who ate free snacks of fresh and dried fruits and fresh vegetables as part of USDA's Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program (FVPP) said they improved their eating habits and were more willing to try unfamiliar fruits and formerly disliked vegetables as a result of participating in the pilot. Funded for the 2002-03 school year at $6 million by the 2002 Farm Bill, the pilot program also was considered a success by school staff members who ran it. The pilot operated in 107 U.S. elementary and secondary schools-100 schools in 4 States (25 schools each in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio) and 7 schools in the Zuni Indian Tribal Organization (ITO) in New Mexico. The program's intent was to promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption among schoolchildren as concern spreads among health experts about the increasing number of overweight and obese children. A large majority of participating schools that responded to a survey about the pilot program believe that it would be feasible to continue the pilot if funding were made available and that the funding of about $94 per student was adequate. The research brief is based on a Report to Congress, Evaluation of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program: Report to Congress. The current Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is administered by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). For information about child nutrition program participation, contact the State agencies that administer the program.

  • The Emergency Food Assistance System-Findings From the Client Survey: Final Report

    EFAN-03007, August 06, 2003

    During a typical month in 2001, food pantries served about 12.5 million people, and emergency kitchens served about 1.1 million people. Food pantries and emergency kitchens play an important role in feeding America's low-income and needy populations. These organizations are part of the Emergency Food Assistance System (EFAS), a network run largely by private organizations with some Federal support. This report presents findings from a national study of EFAS clients, which surveyed clients who received emergency food assistance from selected food pantries and emergency kitchens. The study finds that food pantries and emergency kitchens serve a diverse clientele, but that almost three-fourths of those served are food insecure. The majority of EFAS households receive Federal food assistance, including two-thirds of food pantry clients and 45 percent of emergency kitchen clients. However, a substantial number of EFAS households do not receive food stamps, though they appear to be eligible for them.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Assessment of WIC Cost-Containment Practices

    FANRR-34-1, July 15, 2003

    To ensure the best use of available funds and to provide benefits to all eligible individuals, State agencies responsible for carrying out the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) have implemented one or more cost-containment practices. At the request of Congress, the Economic Research Service initiated a study to assess the impact of these practices. Three major findings emerged from the research: Food cost savings were often substantial; there were few adverse outcomes for WIC participants; and administrative costs of cost-containment practices were low.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Childhood Obesity and the Role of USDA

    FANRR-34-11, July 15, 2003

    The rapid increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children is one of the most serious public health concerns in the United States today. Although most of USDA's child nutrition programs were established in response to documented problems of underconsumption and undernutrition among the low-income population, they now have the potential to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. This brief examines the how USDA food assistance and nutrition programs can be used to help further that goal.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-WIC and Breastfeeding Rates

    FANRR-34-2, July 15, 2003

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) promotes breastfeeding as the preferred method for feeding infants. The breastfeeding rates among women participating in WIC, although improving, continue to be significantly lower than the Healthy People 2010 target. Healthy People 2010, established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a set of health objectives for the Nation to achieve over the first decade of the new century. It recommends that at least 75 percent of women initiate breastfeeding and at least 50 percent continue breastfeeding for at least 6 months.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Competitive Foods: Soft Drinks vs. Milk

    FANRR-34-7, July 15, 2003

    "Competitive foods"-those available in schools in addition to USDA-provided school meals-have lower nutritional quality than school meals. This report reviews current information on the impact of competitive foods in school meal programs and presents a case study on competition between milk and soft drinks.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Importance of Child Nutrition Programs to Agriculture

    FANRR-34-12, July 15, 2003

    This research brief estimates the impact of specific USDA child-nutrition programs on production, value added, and jobs on U.S. farms, looking at the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and a combined group of school programs (the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Special Milk, and Summer Food Service Programs).

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-A Healthy School Meal Environment

    FANRR-34-5, July 15, 2003

    This report examines how schools can foster an environment that encourages healthy food choices by participants in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. Environmental factors that are considered to be important in affecting those choices include (1) the nutritional quality, variety, and acceptability of program meals; (2) meal scheduling; (3) nutrition education; and (4) sales of non-USDA foods.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Feeding Low-Income Children When School Is Out: The Summer Food Service Program

    FANRR-34-10, July 15, 2003

    The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is the major Federal resource available to provide children from low-income families with nutritious meals when school is not in session. Small in comparison with the National School Lunch Program, which served 15.5 million children in 2001, the SFSP served 2.1 million children. Growing interest in improving SFSP operations and expanding participation led USDA to commission the first comprehensive examination of the program since 1986. This brief presents findings from the study.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Certifying Eligibility in the National School Lunch Program

    FANRR-34-4, July 15, 2003

    Nutritionally balanced National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meals are available in almost all public and many private schools. Any child at a participating school may purchase a lunch through the NSLP; over half of the 25 million NSLP lunches served on an average school day in 2001 were given to children free or at a reduced price. Current regulations allow children to be certified for free or reduced-priced lunches in two ways-direct certification based on documentation from State or local welfare offices, or certification based on an application from a child's parent or guardian. This report examines whether students who are not eligible for free or reduced-cost meals are receiving meals.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Estimating Eligibility and Participation in WIC

    FANRR-34-3, July 15, 2003

    The number of participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has increased dramatically since the program began in 1974. The increase in the number of participants has been largely the result of increased congressional funding as well as cost-containment measures. USDA's annual estimates of the number of people eligible to participate in the WIC program are used to develop budget requests for WIC. Estimation of eligibility and participation is a complex process, due to data limitations, varying State program eligibility criteria, and alternate definitions of key variables.