Publications

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The MID-SIPP Model: A Simulation Approach for Projecting Impacts of Changes in the Food Stamp Program

    CCR-24, October 04, 2006

    This report introduces the Monthly Income Dynamics, Survey of Income and Program Participation (MID-SIPP) model, developed to simulate the effects of changes in rules on eligibility, participation, and costs in the Food Stamp Program (FSP). The simulation framework of MID-SIPP expands considerably the range of FSP policy options that can be analyzed.

  • 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.

  • South Carolina Food Stamp and Well-Being Study: Well-Being Outcomes Among Food Stamp Leavers

    CCR-22, September 03, 2006

    This study examines data from a survey of families in South Carolina who left the Food Stamp Program (FSP) between 1998 and 2000. It combined the survey data with earnings data and subsequent food stamp receipt. It finds that families who return to the FSP are more likely to experience food hardships and other adverse events but are less likely to have a negative view about life changes than families who remain out of the program.

  • On The Map

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2006

    An average of 25.6 million people, or 8.7 percent of the U.S. population, received food stamps each month during fiscal year 2005, an increase from 8.1 percent in 2004.

  • Food Stamp Program Boosts Farm Income and Jobs

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2006

    In fiscal year 2005, USDA provided $28.6 billion worth of food stamps to needy Americans. ERS researchers estimate that the additional food purchases resulting from each $1billion of food stamps redeemed generates $97 million in farm cash receipts, which translates into 950 farm jobs and $32 million of income to farmers and hired farmworkers.

  • Recent Trends and Economic Issues in the WIC Infant Formula Rebate Program

    ERR-22, August 29, 2006

    Over half of all infant formula sold in the United States is purchased through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Typically, WIC State agencies obtain substantial discounts in the form of rebates from infant formula manufacturers for each can of formula purchased through the program. This analysis suggests that retail markup accounts for most of the cost to WIC of infant formula in most States. However, both it and net wholesale price have increased over time. The recent increase in these components coincides with the introduction of higher priced supplemented infant formulas. Conditions may change after the market adjusts to these new formulas.

  • 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.

  • South Carolina Food Stamp and Well-Being Study: Transitions in Food Stamp and TANF Participation and Employment Among Families With Children

    CCR-17, April 03, 2006

    People who receive public assistance confront a number of “clocks” that may affect program participation. Examples of clocks include time limits on receiving benefits and recurring deadlines for reconfirming eligibility. This study examines the role of program clocks, economic conditions, and other circumstances on participation in South Carolina’s cash and food assistance programs.

  • 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 Stamp Program Costs and Error Rates, 1989-2001

    CCR-15, January 31, 2006

    Evidence is strong that, beginning in 1995, an increase in reported certification-related costs per Food Stamp Program (FSP) household contributed to reduced error rates. This report presents the results of a study of trends in FSP administrative costs and errors from 1989 to 2001. The results imply that, in the period after the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, States on average had to spend more effort on certification-related activities than in previous years to achieve a given level of accuracy.

  • 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.

  • Evaluation of the USDA Elderly Nutrition Demonstrations: Volume II, Demonstration Summaries

    CCR-9-2, August 01, 2005

    Historically, low-income seniors ages 60 and older who qualify for Food Stamp Program (FSP) benefits participate at low rates because they feel it is not worth the effort to apply. To identify effective strategies for raising participation among this population, USDA designed three models, each using different techniques to reduce the barriers that seniors face in FSP participation.

  • Evaluation of the USDA Elderly Nutrition Demonstrations: Volume I, Evaluation Findings

    CCR-9-1, August 01, 2005

    Reducing the burden of applying for food stamps or enhancing benefits appears to increase participation of the elderly in the Food Stamp Program (FSP). Historically, low-income seniors ages 60 and older who qualify for FSP benefits participate at low rates because they feel it is not worth the effort to apply.

  • Food Stamp Program Entry and Exit: An Analysis of Participation Trends in the 1990s

    CCR-8, July 28, 2005

    This study examines the degree to which changes in entry and exit patterns into and out of the Food Stamp Program (FSP) contributed to the FSP caseload growth of the early 1990s and to the decline of the late 1990s. A rise in the FSP entry rate was the driving force behind caseload growth in the early 1990s. However, individuals tended to stay longer in the FSP during this period than at other points of the 1990s, which also contributed to the growth.

  • After Leaving Welfare: Food Stamps or Not?

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2005

    USDA's Food Stamp Program can ease the transition from welfare to independence by supplementing the resources of the working poor. However, many individuals who leave cash welfare drop off the food stamp rolls, even though they appear to be eligible.

  • Former Welfare Recipients Affect Economic Growth and Wages

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2005

    A goal of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) is to move recipients of public assistance into jobs. ERS researchers examined some of the labor market impacts of the "welfare-to-work" provisions of PRWORA. Results show that the influx of public assistance recipients into the labor force from 1996 to 2000 reduced wage growth in low-skill occupations. Concurrently, the influx of former welfare recipients added workers to the labor force, contributing to economic growth during the period.

  • New Approaches Boost Food Stamp Participation by Elderly People

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2005

    Only about one in four eligible elderly Americans participate in USDA's Food Stamp Program. In 2002, USDA and six States tested approaches to increasing participation by low-income elderly through three demonstration projects. Simplifying the application process, providing the elderly with one-on-one assistance with the process, and substituting food packages in place of food stamps increased participation.