Publications

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  • 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-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-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-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.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Reimbursement Tiering Improves Targeting but Decreases Participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program

    FANRR-34-9, July 15, 2003

    The Family Child Care Homes Legislative Changes Study found that family child care homes in the Child and Adult Care Food Program serve fewer children but more of the children are from low-income families. Prior to the tiered reimbursement system, which started in 1997, 21 percent of the children served were from low-income families. Post tiering, that number rose to 45 percent.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Tiering Increases CACFP Sponsors' Administrative Tasks

    FANRR-34-8, July 15, 2003

    The two-tiered meal reimbursement system instituted in 1997 within the child care homes portion of the Child and Adult Care Food Program added new duties for sponsoring organizations. This report examines how these new duties have affected the sponsoring organizations' administrative tasks.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Do Healthy School Meals Cost More?

    FANRR-34-6, July 15, 2003

    With child obesity soaring and the juvenile incidence of diabetes and hypertension also on the rise in the United States, there is strong policy interest in the potential of USDA school meals to promote healthy diets and weights. It has been argued, however, that improving the nutritional quality of school meals will raise costs. This report examines whether improving the nutritional quality of meals served by the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program increases program costs.

  • Food Assistance Research Brief-Food Insecurity in Households With Children

    FANRR-34-13, July 15, 2003

    Household food security, defined as access at all times to enough food for active healthy living, is taken for granted by most American children. However, some parents do have difficulty at times getting enough food for themselves and, more rarely, for their children. This brief examines the extent to which the diets and eating patterns of American children are disrupted because their families cannot always afford enough food.

  • Feasibility and Accuracy of Record Linkage To Estimate Multiple Program Participation: Volume II, Survey of Food Assistance Information Systems-Survey Instruments

    EFAN-03008-2, June 23, 2003

    Administrative data from USDA's food assistance and nutrition programs (FANPs) provide statistics on the number and characteristics of program participants. However, policymakers and researchers often want more information than these administrative data provide about participation in multiple programs or the characteristics of families who choose to participate in some, but not all, programs for which they are eligible. This study investigates the feasibility of linking administrative data across FANPs to provide statistics on multiple-program participation. The first phase of the study included a Survey of Food Assistance Information Systems, taken in 26 States from directors of the Food Stamp Program (FSP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Child Nutrition Programs. The survey collected information about the characteristics and content of FANP information systems, including system architecture, participant identifiers, integration with other programs, and research uses of administrative data. This report includes the instruments for the survey.

  • Assessment of WIC Cost-Containment Practices: Executive Summary

    FANRR-31, May 26, 2003

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides both nutrition education and supplemental foods containing nutrients determined by nutritional research to be lacking in the diets of pregnant, breastfeeding, and post-partum women, infants, and children. State WIC agencies have implemented practices designed to reduce the cost of food packages containing these prescribed foods. For instance, one of the WIC program's primary cost-saving practices is negotiating rebate contracts with manufacturers of infant formula. Additional practices include limiting authorized vendors to stores with lower food prices; limiting approved brands, package sizes, forms, or prices; and negotiating rebates with food manufacturers or suppliers. There is concern that these practices may inadvertently counter the program's goal of providing supplemental foods and nutrition education. Based on a review of cost-containment practices in six States, including interviews with the various stakeholders and analysis of WIC administrative files, the study draws three major conclusions: (1) cost-containment practices reduced average food package costs by 0.2 to 21.4 percent, depending on practices implemented and local conditions; (2) the cost-containment practices had few adverse outcomes for WIC participants; and (3) administrative costs of the practices were low, averaging about 1.5 percent of food package savings.

  • Feeding Low-Income Children When School Is Out-The Summer Food Service Program: Executive Summary

    FANRR-30, April 25, 2003

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), funds meals for children in low-income areas when school is not in session. USDA's Economic Research Service recently sponsored the first comprehensive study of the SFSP in more than a decade. The nationally representative study surveyed State administrators, sponsor staff, and site staff on program operations and on factors that affect participation. The study also examined the nutritional quality of meals served and the extent of plate waste. In fiscal year 2001, more than 4,000 local sponsors provided about 130 million meals at more than 35,000 feeding sites. The number of children served in July (2.1 million) was about 14 percent of the number who received free or reduced-price school meals during the previous school year.

    In an effort to help target potential SFSP expansion efforts, ERS has developed the Summer Food Service Program Map Machine. The interactive web machine combines data on 2001 SFSP sponsors and sites, Census 2000 data on small geographic areas, and school census data. Users can create maps that allow them to infer at a glance whether SFSP sites are located in areas of the highest need, and whether some qualified areas have been overlooked. The Map Machine also allows for in-depth analysis of program coverage. See the Food Access Research Atlas.

    See also: Feeding Low-Income Children When School Is Out-The Summer Food Service Program: Final Report.

  • Feeding Low-Income Children When School Is Out-The Summer Food Service Program: Final Report

    EFAN-03001, March 26, 2003

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), funds meals for children in low-income areas when school is not in session. The first comprehensive study of the SFSP since 1986 found that, in fiscal year 2001, more than 4,000 local sponsors provided about 130 million meals at more than 35,000 feeding sites. The number of children served in July 2001 (2.1 million per day) was about 14 percent of the number who received free or reduced-price school meals each day during the previous school year. On average, SFSP meals provided the levels of key nutrients recommended for school meals. However, breakfasts were slightly lower in food energy than recommended, and lunches were higher in fat. Half the SFSP sponsors were school districts, which operated about half the sites and served about half the meals. Other sponsors included government agencies, private nonprofit organizations, and residential camps. The nationally representative study, which was sponsored by USDA's Economic Research Service, surveyed State administrators, sponsor staff, and site staff on program operations and on factors that affect participation.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Fiscal 2003, Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program: Description and Application Process

    AP-012, March 13, 2003

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program accepted proposals for grants and cooperative agreements for fiscal 2003. The three priority research areas were (1) Program Design and Operations, (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 2003 was approximately $1 million. The deadline for proposal submission was May 19, 2003.

  • Assessment of WIC Cost-Containment Practices: Final Report

    EFAN-03005, February 25, 2003

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides both nutrition education and supplemental foods for pregnant, breastfeeding, and post-partum women, infants, and children. These supplemental foods contain nutrients that nutritional research has found may otherwise be lacking in the diets of WIC recipients. State WIC agencies have implemented practices designed to reduce the cost of food packages containing these prescribed foods. For instance, one of the WIC program's primary cost-saving practices is negotiating rebate contracts with manufacturers of infant formula. Additional practices include limiting authorized vendors to stores with lower food prices; limiting approved brands, package sizes, forms, or prices; and negotiating rebates with food manufacturers or suppliers. There is concern that these practices may inadvertently counter the program's goal of providing supplemental foods and nutrition education. Based on a review of cost-containment practices in six States, including interviews with the various stakeholders and analysis of WIC administrative files, the study draws three major conclusions: (1) cost-containment practices reduced average food package costs by 0.2 to 21.4 percent, depending on practices implemented and local conditions; (2) the cost-containment practices had few adverse outcomes for WIC participants; and (3) administrative costs of the practices were low, averaging about 1.5 percent of food package savings.

  • Food Assistance Landscape, March 2003

    FANRR-28-2, February 24, 2003

    About half of USDA's budget supports 15 domestic food assistance programs that serve an estimated 1 in 5 Americans at some point during the year. The goals of these programs are to provide needy persons with access to a more nutritious diet, to improve the eating habits of the Nation's children, and to help America's farmers by providing an outlet for the distribution of food purchased under farmer assistance authorities. The Economic Research Service (ERS) is responsible for conducting studies and evaluations of USDA's food assistance programs, focusing on diet and nutritional outcomes, food program targeting and delivery, and program dynamics and administration. This report uses data from the Food and Nutrition Service to examine trends in the food assistance programs through fiscal 2002. It also discusses a recent ERS study on one of the smaller, highly targeted food assistance programs-the Summer Food Service Program.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Final Report: Fiscal 2002 Activities

    AP-011, February 24, 2003

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program (FANRP) supports intramural and extramural research on a wide range of policy-relevant food assistance and nutrition topics. The three perennial program themes are (1) diet and nutritional outcomes, (2) food program targeting and delivery, and (3) program dynamics and administration. The core food and nutrition assistance programs include the Food Stamp Program, the child nutrition programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This report summarizes FANRP's activities and accomplishments in fiscal 2002.

  • The WIC Program: Background, Trends, and Issues

    FANRR-27, October 01, 2002

    The mission of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk. WIC provides nutritious foods to supplement diets, nutrition education, and referrals to health care and other social services. Administered by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the program has grown rapidly since 1972. Almost half of all infants and about one-quarter of all children 1-4 years of age in the United States now participate. WIC accounts for almost 12 percent of total Federal spending on food and nutrition assistance. This report describes the WIC program-how it works, its history, program trends, and the characteristics of the population it serves. It also examines issues related to program outcomes and administration. How the WIC community responds to these issues may have a large impact on future program operations.

  • Issues in Food Assistance-How Do Food Assistance Programs Improve the Well-Being of Low-Income Families?

    FANRR26-9, October 01, 2002

    The costs of USDA's three largest food assistance programs-food stamps, school means and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)-are easier to measure than the benefits of those programs. In 2000, the three programs' direct costs were $28 billion. As shown in this issues brief, the well-being of low-income families who participate in food assistance programs is enhanced by the alleviation of the severity of poverty, an increase in food security, satisfactory nutrient intake, and increases in household food expenditures.

  • Food Assistance Landscape, September 2002

    FANRR-28-1, September 02, 2002

    Nearly 1 in 6 Americans is served by 1 or more of the 15 domestic food assistance programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at some point during the year. These programs provide needy persons with access to a more nutritious diet, provide opportunities to improve the eating habits of the Nation's children, and help America's farmers by creating an outlet for the distribution of food purchased under farmer assistance authorities. The Food Assistance Landscape, September 2002 provides a concise summary of USDA's food assistance programs at the midpoint of fiscal 2002, including trends and economic conditions affecting the programs.