USDA's domestic food and nutrition assistance programs affect the daily lives of millions of people, with about one in four Americans participating in at least one program at some point during a given year. These programs represent a significant investment, accounting for over two-thirds of USDA's annual budget.

ERS is the primary source for economic studies and evaluations of domestic food and nutrition assistance programs to meet the needs of USDA, Congress, program managers, program participants, the research community, and the public at large. To address this diverse group, ERS has developed an integrated program of intramural and extramural research:

  • An intramural program of research is conducted by ERS staff, relying on the research staff's specialized knowledge and experience.
  • An extramural program promotes food and nutrition assistance research through the USDA Centers for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research and the Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Program (RIDGE).