Food Assistance & Nutrition Research Program No. (FANRR-26-9) 4 pp

October 2002

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

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.

Keywords: Food assistance, nutritional intake, food stamps, WIC, food security, poverty

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