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  • Simplified Reporting and Transitional Benefits in the Food Stamp Program-Case Studies of State Implementation: Final Report

    EFAN-04003, May 11, 2004

    This study examines the experiences of four States (Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, and Ohio) that use the simplified reporting option of the Food Stamp Program; Arizona also uses the transitional benefit option. With simplified reporting, States lengthen the certification period for most food stamp recipients, minimize reporting requirements between recertifications, and reduce exposure to quality control errors. With transitional benefits, States automatically continue benefits for up to 5 months for most families that leave the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The options were introduced in 2000 and expanded under the 2002 Farm Act. The States reported reduced staff workload, improved client access, and reduced quality control errors with simplified reporting but faced some operational challenges that made realizing the option's full potential difficult. Transitional benefits were considered a valuable support for families but required substantial planning and staff resources. The primary sources of information for the study were indepth in-person interviews with State Food Stamp Program administrators and field office staff.

  • Relationship Between the EITC and Food Stamp Program Participation Among Households With Children

    EFAN-04002, April 13, 2004

    The Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Food Stamp Program (FSP) are the largest means-tested transfer programs for low-income, working parents in the United States. This study examines how these two programs interact, particularly with regard to the impact of the EITC on participation in the FSP during the latter half of the 1990s. Although EITC payments do not reduce the potential size of a household's food stamp allotment under FSP rules, they do add to a household's resources and thus could affect a household's willingness to participate in the FSP. The paper tests this hypothesis with monthly data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation for 1996 through 1999. Although the findings are mixed, they provide evidence of negative impact of EITC on FSP participation.

  • Food Stamp Participation Up in 2003

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2004

    Participation in USDA's Food Stamp Program averaged 21.3 million people per month in FY 2003--an 11-percent increase over the previous year. The weak job market, along with increased efforts by States to improve program access, accounts for most of the rise in program enrollment.

  • 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.

  • Persistence and Change in the Food Security of Families With Children, 1997-99

    EFAN-04001, March 18, 2004

    This report uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the prevalence of and changes in food security between 1997 and 1999 among individual families with children younger than 13. About half of the families that were food insecure in 1997 became food secure by 1999, with the rest remaining food insecure. Meanwhile, about 7 percent of the families who were food secure in 1997 became food insecure in 1999. Although the food security status for individual families changed substantially, the prevalence of food insecurity was relatively stable: In both years, about 1 family in 10 was food insecure. The report also examines families' characteristics, income, and Food Stamp Program participation.

  • 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 Stamp Program Access Study: Local Office Policies and Practices

    EFAN-03013-1, December 09, 2003

    A survey of State food stamp offices shows that many policies and practices recommended by USDA in 1999 to improve accessibility to the Food Stamp Program (FSP) were widely operational by the year 2000. For example, in the surveyed areas, food stamp outreach campaigns were fairly widespread, food stamp applications were accessible, and some accommodations for the elderly and disabled were common. Other recommended practices, however, were less common, notably practices to encourage participation by working families and former recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The survey also found barriers to participation prevalent for some segments of the food stamp population and opportunities for conducting food stamp business after regular office hours limited. The dramatic decline in FSP participation in the late 1990s led policymakers and analysts to focus on local food stamp office policies and practices as possible barriers to participation. The Food Stamp Program Access Study is examining the relationship between these practices and the decision by eligible households to participate in the FSP. This report presents a detailed analysis of FSP operations that may affect accessibility.

  • Employment Factors Influencing Food Stamp Program Participation: Final Report

    EFAN-03012, November 25, 2003

    This study examines how employment characteristics of low-income households influence Food Stamp Program (FSP) participation. The relationship between employment and FSP participation is of special interest because, although more low-income working families are eligible to participate, many do not. Low-income working households are less likely to participate in the FSP if they work traditional daytime hours, hold multiple jobs, and work more hours, but they are more likely to participate if they frequently change jobs. However, the relationship between employment and FSP participation was stronger in the early 1990s than in the late 1990s, suggesting that barriers to participation among working families decreased during the decade.

  • The Relationship of Earnings and Income to Food Stamp Participation: A Longitudinal Analysis

    EFAN-03011, November 21, 2003

    Monthly income and earnings of households that are eligible to participate in the Food Stamp Program (FSP), but that do not participate, vary substantially more than income and earnings of participant households. In particular, many nonparticipant households have had a short-term drop in income. Other nonparticipants, however, have had long-term low income and are often very disadvantaged. Although nonparticipation by such households might partly reflect underreporting of participation or income, many households may not participate because the same conditions that limit their incomes, such as low literacy levels or physical or mental disability, also limit their ability to participate in the FSP. Many poor nonparticipants are receiving other benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid, suggesting an avenue by which agencies can reach eligible nonparticipants. This study considers the role that the dynamics of household income plays in determining FSP participation. The two main objectives of the analysis are to (1) determine the extent to which nonparticipation can reasonably be attributed to temporary low income, and (2) assess why some households that appear to have long-term low income do not participate.

  • 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.

  • Using One-Stops To Promote Access to Work Supports-Lessons from Virginia's Coordinated Economic Relief Centers: Final Report

    EFAN-03010, November 18, 2003

    Policymakers and program administrators have become increasingly concerned about declines in participation in the Food Stamp Program (FSP) and other work supports. As a result, interest has grown in identifying promising strategies for improving low-income families' access to these programs and benefits. In early 2002, the Commonwealth of Virginia implemented a new initiative: To provide the services of many agencies at one-stop career centers, called Coordinated Economic Relief Centers (CERCs). This report describes the results of a study on how the CERCs were implemented and their potential for increasing low-income families' access to the FSP and other work supports and provides operational lessons for other States and communities seeking to implement a similar one-stop approach to service delivery. The results indicate that the CERCs helped some customers get information about where to find services and made obtaining services more convenient. However, resource constraints hampered the CERCs' efforts to operate as envisioned, the level of referrals to food assistance programs was low, and expectations in some communities exceeded what the CERCs could realistically accomplish.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).