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  • 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.

  • Who Has Time To Cook? How Family Resources Influence Food Preparation

    ERR-40, May 04, 2007

    The relationship of household characteristics and time resources to the amount of time spent preparing food is relevant for the design of food assistance programs.

  • Food Spending in American Households, 2003-04

    EIB-23, March 13, 2007

    Using data from the most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey, ERS presents information on nationwide urban food expenditure patterns by select demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

  • Vegetables and Melons Outlook: March 2007

    VGS-31901, March 06, 2007

    Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables in the United States and fresh-market carrot consumption has been increasing over the past few decades. Using a combination of ACNielsen Homescan panel data and USDA's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, this article examines where and how much fresh and processed carrots are eaten and links this consumption to various economic, social, and demographic characteristics of consumers. The analysis indicates that per capita carrot consumption is greatest in the East and Central regions of the country. About 80 percent of fresh-market carrots are purchased at retail and consumed at home, with the majority consisting of fresh-cut (including baby) carrots.

  • The 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes' Effect on Food Stamp Program Caseloads and Benefits Issued

    ERR-37, February 07, 2007

    In fall 2005, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma devastated areas along much of the Gulf Coast resulting in large increases in food stamp caseloads and benefits issued. In November 2005, the number of people receiving food stamps reached a record 29.7 million, or about 4 million more participants than just 3 months earlier. Most of the increase in caseloads occurred in the Gulf Coast States that were hardest hit by the hurricanes-Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The hurricanes' impact on caseloads in these States, in terms of both magnitude and duration, varied widely. States that received large numbers of evacuees from hurricane-affected areas also experienced disproportionate increases in caseloads relative to the other States. This study estimates that the hurricanes increased total food stamp benefits issued by about $1.2 billion, with most of it going to people located in the five Gulf Coast States.

  • The Impact of Big-Box Stores on Retail Food Prices and the Consumer Price Index

    ERR-33, December 29, 2006

    This report focuses on retail food market dynamics and how they affect food price variation across store formats. The differences in prices across store formats are especially noteworthy when compared with standard measures of food price inflation over time. Over the past 20 years, annual food price changes, as measured by the CPI, have averaged just 3 percent per year, while food prices for similar products can vary by more than 10 percent across store formats at any one point in time. Since the current CPI for food does not fully take into account the lower price option of nontraditional retailers, a gap exists between price changes as measured using scanner data versus the CPI estimate, even for the relatively low food inflation period of 1998-2003. This study estimates that the CPI for dairy products overstates food price change by 0.5 to 2.5 percentage points per year for dairy, eggs, and butter/margarine.

  • Possible Implications for U.S. Agriculture From Adoption of Select Dietary Guidelines

    ERR-31, November 20, 2006

    To help Americans meet nutritional requirements while staying within caloric recommendations, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products, and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products. This report provides one view of the potential implications for U.S. agriculture if Americans changed their current consumption patterns to meet some of those guidelines. For Americans to meet the fruit, vegetable, and whole-grain recommendations, domestic crop acreage would need to increase by an estimated 7.4 million harvested acres, or 1.7 percent of total U.S. cropland in 2002. To meet the dairy guidelines, consumption of milk and milk products would have to increase by 66 percent; an increase of that magnitude would likely require an increase in the number of dairy cows as well as increased feed grains and, possibly, increased acreage devoted to dairy production.

  • 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.

  • Let's Eat Out: Americans Weigh Taste, Convenience, and Nutrition

    EIB-19, October 17, 2006

    Whether eating out or buying carry-out, Americans are consuming more and more of their calories from full-service and fast-food restaurant fare. The share of daily caloric intake from food purchased and/or eaten away from home increased from 18 percent to 32 percent between the late 1970s and the middle 1990s, and the away-from-home market grew to account for about half of total food expenditures in 2004, up from 34 percent in 1974. Analysis of a survey of U.S. consumers indicates that respondents want convenience and an enjoyable dining experience, but the desire for health also plays a role as does diet-health knowledge.

  • The Food Assistance Landscape: FY 2006 Midyear Report

    EIB-6-3, September 15, 2006

    USDA expenditures for its 15 food assistance programs totaled $27.7 billion during the first half of fiscal 2006 (October 2005-March 2006), a 7-percent increase over the first half of fiscal 2005. 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 96 percent of USDA's total expenditures for food assistance. This report uses preliminary data from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to examine trends in the programs at the midpoint of fiscal 2006. It also summarizes a number of ERS research reports on the Food Stamp Program released in recent years that may help inform discussions of the 2007 reauthorization of the farm bill.

  • Nutrient Adequacy of Children Participating in WIC

    EB-8, April 20, 2006

    USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods to participants, in most cases through vouchers for retail purchase of foods designated as approved by the program. WIC food packages were initially designed to include foods rich in nutrients that were lacking in the diets of low-income participants. This brief summarizes two recent ERS-sponsored studies that provide new assessments of nutrient intakes of WIC children, income-eligible children not participating in the program, and children ineligible for the program.

  • 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.

  • 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 Dynamics and USDA's New Dietary Guidelines

    EIB-5, September 29, 2005

    Food Dynamics provides the most up-to-date information on consumer behavior and retail food market conditions.

  • Will 2005 Be the Year of the Whole Grain?

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    The 2005 Dietary Guidelines encourage all Americans over age 2 to eat roughly half of their recommended 5 to 10 daily servings of grains, depending on calorie needs. The goal of this new recommendation is to improve Americans' health by raising awareness of whole grains and their role in nutritious diets. The Guidelines could also have big impacts on farmers and farm production.

  • Obesity Policy and the Law of Unintended Consequences

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    The list of policies that could potentially help Americans turn the corner on obesity and overweight is as long as the list of factors that influence an individual’s diet and lifestyle choices. The list of unintended consequences stemming from obesity policy is probably longer.

  • Factors Affecting U.S. Pork Consumption

    LDPM-13001, May 12, 2005

    Pork ranks third in annual U.S. meat consumption, behind beef and chicken, averaging 51 pounds per person. The Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) indicates that most pork is consumed at home. Pork consumption is highest in the Midwest, followed by the South, the Northeast, and the West. Rural consumers eat more pork than urban/suburban consumers. Pork consumption varies by race and ethnicity. Higher income consumers tend to consume less pork. Everything else remaining constant, demographic data in the CSFII suggests future declines in per capita pork consumption as the share of Hispanics and the elderly in the population rises because those two groups eat less pork than the national average. However, total U.S. pork consumption will grow because of an expansion of the U.S. population.

  • Nutrition Labeling in the Food-Away-From-Home Sector: An Economic Assessment

    ERR-4, April 27, 2005

    Americans spent about 46 percent of their total food budget on food away from home in 2002, up from 27 percent in 1962. Such foods tend to be less nutritious and higher in calories than foods prepared at home, and some studies have linked eating away from home to overweight and obesity in adults and children. Current nutrition labeling law exempts much of the food-away-from-home sector from mandatory labeling regulations. Because consumers are less likely to be aware of the ingredients and nutrient content of away-from-home food than of foods prepared at home, public health advocates have called for mandatory nutrition labeling for major sources of food away from home, such as fast-food and chain restaurants. This report provides an economic assessment of a food-away-from-home nutrition labeling policy, including justifications for policy intervention and potential costs and benefits of the policy.

  • Americans' Whole-Grain Consumption Below Guidelines

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2005

    The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that half of all daily grain servings be whole grains. After adjusting ERS' food availability data for waste and losses, Americans were eating an average of 10 servings of grains a day in 2003, with whole grains accounting for just over 1 serving. For those consumers reporting they ate whole grain foods, the bulk of those foods consisted of whole-grain crackers, salty snacks, and ready-to-eat cereals.