Publications

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Linking WIC Program Data to Medicaid and Vital Records Data: Phase II Report, Data Development Initiatives for Research on Food Assistance and Nutrition Programs-Final Report

    EFAN-04005-2, June 02, 2004

    This report is a followup to a proposal to create a national database that links State data from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) with Medicaid and vital records data. The linked information would create new opportunities for Federal and State program administrators, as well as independent researchers, to examine a number of factors related to program participation and dynamics. The report provides an implementation plan for creating a national database, 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 Establishing a Web-Based Data Collection System for National School Lunch and National School Breakfast Program Data (E-FAN-04-005-3).

  • 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.

  • Household Food Security in the United States, 2002

    FANRR-35, October 30, 2003

    Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year 2002, 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 10.7 percent in 2001 to 11.1 percent in 2002, and the prevalence of food insecurity with hunger rose from 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent. This report, based on data from the December 2002 food security survey, provides 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 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.

  • Balancing Food Costs with Nutrition Goals in WIC

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    This Amber Waves article summarizes an ERS report on cost-containment practices in the WIC program, with an emphasis on case studies conducted in six states. This research was funded by the FANRP program, and was conducted by Abt Associates.

  • 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.

  • 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.