Fresh produce growers/shippers believe that consolidations in grocery retailing may empower retailers to act less competitively. This study evaluates the extent to which retailers exercise market power in buying from growers and selling to consumers. Sales data for retail chains in six U.S. metropolitan markets are used along with data on grower prices for an analysis on apples, grapes, oranges, and grapefruit. The evidence varies by commodity, but does consistently point to the exercise of market power by retailers in consumer sales; less support is found on buying market power. Market power varies over time and with produce volume.
This study examines retailer pricing behavior for iceberg lettuce shipped from California and Arizona, mature-green and vine-ripe tomatoes shipped from California and Florida, and lettuce-based fresh salads. A switching regression model is used to examine oligopsony power. Market power over consumers is inferred from selling price, selling and acquisition cost, and estimated price elasticities of demand. Evidence suggests buyers are often able to exercise oligopsony power in procuring fresh produce commodities. Unilateral monopoly power granted by geographic and brand differentiation allows retailers to exercise market power over consumers, in the sense of marking up prices in excess of full marginal costs.
This study developed and administered a questionnaire to identify feeding practices among low-income African-American mothers and eating behaviors in their preschool children that are associated with childhood obesity. The findings do not appear to implicate feeding practices to childhood obesity in this sample of preschoolers. However, before concluding that feeding practices are not associated with childhood weight status, further research is needed to ensure that the constructs used accurately assess feeding practices in specific populations. Further research is also needed using a larger sample of overweight children to compare the findings with those among children of normal weight.
The report reviews existing data sources and prior research on six programs operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provide food assistance to American Indians living on or near reservations. The purpose of the review is to help identify future research needs and opportunities to exploit administrative data systems and recurring national surveys. The programs covered are the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), the Food Stamp Program (FSP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). Research topics of continuing importance include the impacts of reservation food assistance on health and nutrition, the characteristics that make nutrition education effective on reservations, the dynamics of program participation, and the contribution of tribal administration to program coordination.
Low participation rates in the Food Stamp Program (FSP) by poor elderly individuals have been a persistent problem. Historically, no more than one-third of eligible elderly have participated in the FSP—a participation rate far lower than that of any other major demographic group. To address the low participation rates among the elderly, USDA is funding the Elderly Nutrition Demonstrations—six separate pilot programs that are testing three alternative ways to increase elderly participation in the FSP. This report presents the design for evaluating the six demonstrations. The design includes an impact analysis to evaluate the effects of the demonstrations on FSP participation, average benefit levels, client satisfaction, and ongoing administrative costs. The design also includes a process analysis to describe the implementation process and to identify the effects of the demonstrations on stakeholders.
Low participation rates in the Food Stamp Program (FSP) by poor elderly individuals have been a persistent problem. Historically, no more than one-third of eligible elderly have participated in the FSP—a participation rate far lower than that of any other major demographic group. To address the low participation rates among the elderly, USDA is funding the Elderly Nutrition Demonstrations—six separate pilot programs that are testing three alternative ways to increase elderly participation in the FSP. This report discusses the logistical considerations for evaluating the impacts of the six demonstrations. It presents an overview of the evaluation design, discusses alternative approaches for data collection, presents a schedule for the evaluation, and presents the expected costs of the evaluation.
The Harvard Service Food Frequency Questionnaire (HSFFQ) has been used in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in North Dakota, Missouri, and Massachusetts. This project collaborated with those States to improve HSFFQ output to better facilitate nutrition education, food package decisions, and referrals; to design, implement, and evaluate the use of aggregate nutrition data for local and State practices and policy decisions; and to use prospective data to examine the relationships between diet and childhood obesity. The project developed a standardized version of the HSFFQ to make collecting and compiling aggregate data easier and to make data reports more useful. The project demonstrated that aggregating nutrition data at the State level is feasible. The calibration studies uncovered the need for further analyses to explain the performance of the tool in the diet assessment of low-income Hispanic and African-American children. Prospective analysis of the influence of diet on overweight in low-income preschool children, while inconclusive, demonstrated the ability to use aggregate nutrition data to explore important epidemiological hypotheses.
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. Caseload decline of the late 1990s was driven predominantly by shorter participation length, although lower entry rates also contributed. The entry rate for single mothers remained relatively constant over the 1990s, but participation length declined in the late 1990s. Despite eligibility restrictions in the late 1990s, the entry rate for noncitizens also remained fairly constant. While the entry rate for able-bodied adults fell after time limits were imposed in the mid-1990s, their participation length appeared unaffected by these limits, which may reflect the tendency for able-bodied adults to have short participation spells even without time limits. Among all new entrants in the FSP in the 1990s, more than half exited the program within 8 months and two-thirds exited within 1 year. Among individuals participating in the FSP for longer than 1 year, the typical participation length declined over the 1990s.
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. 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. The techniques involve reducing the time and effort of applying for benefits, aiding seniors in navigating the application process, and giving seniors the option of receiving commodity packages instead of getting benefits through electronic benefits transfer cards. The models were tested as county demonstrations in six States between 2002 and 2004. This report presents the findings from an evaluation of the demonstrations. Successful demonstrations increased the number of parti
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. The techniques involve reducing the time and effort of applying for benefits, aiding seniors in navigating the application process, and giving seniors the option of receiving commodity packages instead of getting benefits through electronic benefits transfer cards. The models were tested as county demonstrations in six States between 2002 and 2004. This report presents the findings of the in-depth process analysis component of an evaluation of the demonstrations. Each of the demonstrations was examined individually for overall design and implementation.
This study focuses on a set of eating habit questions proposed for inclusion in the U.S. Department of Education's Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, Birth Cohort. The study assesses the wording and format of a series of questions for mothers of children in kindergarten and/or first grade regarding the child's food consumption habits. Most mothers were able to answer questions on their child's eating habits by using a variety of recall strategies or by using references. Most mothers used recall strategies, such as the recall of preferences and special events or a child's specific likes or dislikes. They also used references, such as the presence of a menu or snacking policies at school. Mothers did not generally struggle with terminology, but some words and concepts required clarification. The biggest problem in answering the questions was the combination of not remembering what foods were eaten and the desire to reflect socially acceptable and beneficial eating behaviors.
This study is a comprehensive analysis of the nutrient adequacy of segments of the population at risk of inadequate nutrient intake, excessive intake, or dietary imbalances, based on the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals conducted in 1994-96 and 1998. The segments include adolescent females, older adults, children and adults at risk of overweight, individuals living in food-insufficient households, low-income individuals, and individuals targeted by and participating in food and nutrition assistance programs. The study adds to a growing literature that uses current, improved knowledge of nutrient requirements and recommended nutrient assessment methods to analyze nutrient intakes. The study indicates generally inadequate intakes of key micronutrients, especially magnesium, calcium, folate, and vitamin E; energy intakes less than recommended energy requirements for adults; and consumption of too much food energy from fat and not enough from carbohydrates; and inadequate intakes of fiber. In addition, diet adequacy deteriorates as individuals get older. Children—especially infants and young children-have diets that are more nutritionally adequate than those of adolescents and adults.
This report summarizes findings from Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Small Grants Program research projects that were awarded 1-year grants in the summer and fall of 2003. The results of the research projects were presented at the December 2004 Small Grants Program Conference. The projects focus on the economics of obesity, food insecurity and childhood obesity, food assistance program participation and household well-being, community influence on food assistance and dietary choices, and welfare reform and food assistance program participation. Several projects focus on specific populations, such as people living in the rural South and those living on American Indian reservations.
This report examines interstate variation in household food security. Using hierarchical modeling, we identify several contextual dimensions that appear linked to household food security: the availability and accessibility of Federal nutrition assistance programs, policies affecting economic well-being of low-income families, and States' economic and social characteristics. These dimensions comprise what we refer to as the State food security infrastructure. We find that a strong food security infrastructure particularly benefits families that are economically vulnerable yet have incomes above the poverty line. Almost all of the observed interstate differences in food security can be explained by cross-State differences in demographic and contextual characteristics.
Overweight among children has increased rapidly over the past two decades. A prevalent belief is that characteristics of the local food supply, such as the affordability of fresh produce and the density of food markets and restaurants, are associated with children's diet and weight gain. This study investigates these issues and finds an association between the relative cost of fruits and vegetables and excessive weight gain by elementary-age children.
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. It describes the trends and composition of FSP administrative costs. It also presents a multivariate regression analysis of the relationship of reported certification costs to FSP error rates (including overpayments, underpayments, and incorrect eligibility decisions). The report presents alternative models that relate a composite case error rate to certification effort per FSP household, caseload characteristics, the implementation of welfare reform, and short certification periods. 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. The models predict that, if a State's FSP certification budget is fixed and the number of FSP households increases, the effort per FSP household will fall and error rates will rise, all other things equal.
Providers of child day care services operating out of their homes may be reimbursed for meals and snacks served to participating children through USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). To participate, these homes must be sponsored by a public or private organization that recruits the homes, trains them to follow CACFP rules, monitors compliance with the rules, and handles meal reimbursement claims and payments. CACFP reimburses sponsors for the administrative expenses incurred in conducting these activities. In 1996, Congress instituted a meal reimbursement system to better target benefits to low-income providers and children. The system created new administrative tasks for sponsors and a need for more time to be spent on some of the tasks conducted previously. This situation has raised concerns as to the adequacy of reimbursements. The decline in the number of CACFP sponsors—a 6 percent drop between 1995 and 2001—has further added to the concern. To address the issue, this study explores the administrative cost reimbursement system for CACFP sponsors that oversee the family child care homes portion of the CACFP. Costs reported by sponsors on average were about 5 percent higher than allowable reimbursement amounts. The report also presents and discusses alternative administrative reimbursement systems used by other Federal programs.
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. Families in South Carolina's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program are restricted to 2 years of benefits in any 10-year period. Caseworkers set intervals between redetermining TANF eligibility but cannot make them longer than a year. Families in the State's Food Stamp Program (FSP) are required to recertify their eligibility at regular intervals. The study shows that South Carolina's 2-year time limit hastens exits from and reduces returns to the TANF program and that the State's policy of quarterly recertifications hastened exits from the FSP. In addition, annual redeterminations may contribute to TANF exits. Finding employment speeds exits from the FSP and cash assistance and delays returns to the programs. Cash assistance participation may lead to longer spells of receiving food stamps.
Several recent changes in the Food Stamp Program (FSP) have been directed at households without children. Some of the changes, such as new work requirements and time limits for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs), are intended to encourage economic self-sufficiency and to reduce program dependence. Other changes are intended to raise low program participation rates among vulnerable groups. This study examines administrative records for adult-only households from South Carolina's public assistance and Unemployment Insurance systems during 1996-2003. The study investigates how patterns of exit from and re-entry into the FSP and patterns of employment vary with program provisions for ABAWDs, recertification intervals, economic conditions, and personal and family characteristics. The study shows that households subject to ABAWD policies had shorter spells of food stamp participation, longer spells of food stamp nonparticipation, and higher rates of employment than did households not subject to the policies. In addition, adult-only households were much more likely to leave the FSP at recertification time than at other times. Finding employment hastened exits from the FSP and delayed returns.
This study uses a unique dataset to examine parental influence on children's dietary intake and whether or not the children will become obese. The study shows that household income, parents' time spent with children, and parents' work experiences significantly affect children's energy and fat intake and obesity-related outcomes. For example, the more time mothers spent with their children, the lower the children's Body Mass Index (BMI) was. On the other hand, the more time fathers spent with their children, the higher the children's BMI was. And the more time both fathers and mothers spent with their children, the higher their children's fat intake (as a percentage of energy) was. In general, mothers tended to have a greater effect on their children's dietary intake than fathers did. Both parents seemed to influence children ages 9-11 more than they did children ages 13-15.
This project develops a data collection methodology to evaluate outcomes of Team Nutrition, a voluntary USDA school-based initiative to promote nutrition education, healthy eating, and physical activity. The project uses information technology to collect high-quality data while decreasing respondent and investigator burden and lowering costs of collecting and analyzing evaluation data. Seven data collection instruments were developed: Five collect information from school personnel, one collects information from students, and the seventh is an on-site observation of the school environment. The instruments are being pilot-tested in one State, but because Team Nutrition is a national initiative, the methodology could be useful to other States.
The economic effects of trade liberalization in world dairy markets are assessed using a world dairy model developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The effects on U.S. farm milk prices and production, producer and consumer surpluses, and U.S. Government revenues and program expenditures are determined. The empirical analysis suggests generally modest price and production impacts on U.S. milk producers when multilateral trade liberalization is assumed.
This study examines data from a survey of families in South Carolina who left the Food Stamp Program (FSP) between 1998 and 2000. We combined the survey data with earnings data and subsequent food stamp receipt to investigate personal and family characteristics associated with three types of well-being outcomes: food hardships, other adverse events, and subjective assessments of life changes. Study results show that families with rising incomes are less likely than families with lower incomes to experience food hardships or other adverse events or to have a negative view about life changes. 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.
This report summarizes research findings from the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Program (RIDGE), formerly known as the 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 2004. The results of these research projects were presented at the October 2005 Small Grants Program conference. The projects examine issues of childhood obesity, food insecurity among vulnerable populations, food assistance program participation and household well-being, and community influence on food assistance and dietary choices. Several of the projects focus on specific populations, such as people living in the rural South and those living on American Indian reservations.
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). Drawing on data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), the simulation framework of MID-SIPP expands considerably the range of FSP policy options that can be analyzed with currently available FSP microsimulation models. The MID-SIPP model also tracks administrative activity associated with certification and reporting requirements. The simulated total of FSP benefits paid under a version of quarterly reporting is $17.1 billion, $1.0 billion more than the simulated total under monthly reporting. Quarterly reporting results in an estimated 37-percent reduction in the total number of administrative reports.
This study compares the effects of importing fresh Mexican Hass avocados into the United States under three scenarios for mitigating pest risks. The analysis finds that Scenario 1, adherence to the U.S. phytosanitary rule of November 2004—which removed all seasonal and geographic restrictions on Mexican avocados, while maintaining existing compliance procedures in Mexico—leads to low pest risks for U.S. producers and an estimated annual U.S. welfare gain of $72 million. In Scenario 2, if compliance measures specific to fruit fly control are eliminated along with seasonal and geographic restrictions, pest risks for U.S. producers remain low and there is an additional gain in net U.S. welfare of $1.7 million. Results for Scenario 3, which eliminates all control measures in Mexico, depends on the level of pest-risk estimated. With average risk, there is a gain in net U.S. welfare of about $8.5 million compared with eliminating only seasonal and geographic restrictions, but U.S. producers incur significant pest control costs. With maximum pest-risk estimates, the net gain in U.S. welfare is $16.2 million less than if only geographic and seasonal restrictions are eliminated, with larger pest control costs for U.S. producers and lower consumer welfare gains due to pest-related losses of U.S. avocados.
The effect of nutrition education—an important component of many Federal Food Assistance programs—on participants’ food consumption behavior is difficult to ascertain. This study finds that combining point-of-purchase data with State data on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a feasible method to assess behavioral changes in WIC participants. The major obstacle to using these data as a practical method of evaluating WIC participant food-purchasing behaviors is the recruitment of enough stores to allow for a representative sample of WIC participants to be included. The study found that nutrition education intervention directed at encouraging the purchase of 1-percent and skim milk, as well as low-fat cheese, did not significantly influence purchasing patterns among WIC participants.
Both joint or separate participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Food Stamp Program reduces the risk of child abuse or neglect and several nutrition-related health problems, such as anemia, failure to thrive, and nutritional deficiency. This study examines the relationship between WIC and Food Stamp Program participation and young children’s health and mistreatment outcomes. The analysis uses a unique individual-level longitudinal database that links administrative datasets on WIC and Food Stamp Program participation, Medicaid enrollment and claims, and child abuse and neglect reports in Illinois.
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) are the most recent set of nutrient-based reference values, which, together with recommended dietary assessment methods, are being used to update estimates of nutrient adequacy of population subgroups. Recent estimates suggest both dramatic dietary deficiencies and excesses for selected nutrients among some subgroups. This report takes a critical look at the studies and methods used to set DRIs. The findings show that errors in dietary recall data—either underreporting or overreporting of intakes—may partially explain the inadequacies and excessive intakes. In addition, the lack of sensitive, specific biochemical markers has resulted in DRIs for selected nutrients to be based on less than optimal data. Because the DRIs are used by food and nutrition assistance programs to set nutritional objectives, establish program benefits, and evaluate program outcomes, it is important to understand the issues involved in deriving the DRIs and how to interpret the results of dietary assessments.
Greater flexibility in U.S. farm programs, with elimination of the restriction on the planting of fruit and vegetable crops, is likely to be a major issue in congressional farm policy discussions in 2007. Michigan is a State with a wide range of fruits, vegetables, wild rice, and program crops planted under the current policy. To capture the diversity of situations that would apply among crops covered by the current policy, this research has examined a broad set of Michigan fruit, vegetable, and wild rice crops (dry beans, pickling cucumbers, processing tomatoes, fresh market tomatoes, squash, and blueberries).
Children’s consumption of National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meals is associated with several positive dietary quality outcomes but concerns remain. Students who consumed mainly NSLP food reported higher intake of most nutrients, milk, fruits, and vegetables and lower intakes of sweetened beverages and candy than students who consumed mainly non-NSLP food, including a la carte items, food from vending machines, and food from home. Students in the “mainly NLSP” group also consumed more sodium, fat, and saturated fat, however, and calorie intake was also higher for this group, although it was only 80 percent of the NSLP requirement for calories served at lunch. The findings were based on lunchtime food records collected from students in three Houston area middle schools during school year 2001-02.
This report summarizes research findings from the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Program (RIDGE), formerly known as the Small Grants Program. The Economic Research Service created the program in 1998 to stimulate new and innovative research on food and nutrition assistance issues and to broaden the network of social scientists that collaborate in investigating the food and nutrition challenges that exist across communities, regions, and States. The report includes summaries of the research findings of projects that were awarded 1-year grants in summer and fall 2005. The results of these research projects were presented at the RIDGE conference in October 2006. The projects examine issues of obesity in children and immigrants, food assistance program participation and household well-being, food security, community influence on food assistance and dietary choices, food prices and quality, and child nutrition. Several of the projects focus on specific populations, such as Native Americans or people living in the rural South.
This study explores participation by Food Stamp Program recipients in other government programs, factors that explain variation in food stamp participation across Virginia's localities, and ways in which the findings support other food stamp participation rate research. Virginia, with its wide range of participation rates across its 120 State-supervised, locally-administered social service departments, serves as a "natural experiment" for gaining an understanding of factors that affect food stamp participation rates across the country. Study findings show that cross-program enrollment could be improved and that local agency factors are likely contributing to differing participation rates across Virginia. This project involved a labor-intensive data collection and linking effort of census, survey, and administrative data and a detailed analysis of the dynamics of food stamp participation in Virginia, as well as a survey of local agency policies and practices.
Coordination between the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Medicaid has been an important component to ensuring access to primary care services for WIC clients. This study examines how increased use of managed care in the Medicaid program has affected WIC program coordination efforts. According to the study sample, 72 percent of State Medicaid agencies report that Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) are required to inform their members about WIC. About 43 percent of State WIC agencies sampled in the study have a formal agreement with a State Medicaid agency, generally revolving around data sharing, referrals, and provision of special metabolic infant formulas. The agreements often lack specific details on how services should be coordinated, however. Some local WIC agencies and MCOs have implemented innovative approaches to coordination. These approaches include Medicaid staff at WIC clinics to help clients with enrollment, sharing information to promote targeted outreach efforts, helping clients identify providers and resources, and MCOs paying transportation costs of WIC clients to attend WIC appointments.
This report uses 1985-2000 data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to examine the effects of the Food Stamp Program on obesity. The effects are found to differ by gender, level of benefits, and duration of participation. Results suggest that, for females, current program participation increases Body Mass Index (by 0.5 index point on average) as well as the probability of being obese (between 2 and 5 percentage points). Current program participation was not found to have significant effects for males. Long-term participation is found to increase obesity for females and males.
Iron deficiency severe enough to cause anemia may affect children’s ability to grow and learn and, consequently, their lifelong productivity and earnings. This study examined the iron status of infants and toddlers ages 6-24 months with a prevalence of anemia of at least 10 percent participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in West Virginia counties. Blood screening performed especially for this study found that 12 of the 57 infants and toddlers (21 percent) were iron deficient, considerably more than the 4 of 49 (8 percent) with anemia. Because the screening methods routinely performed outside of the study are unable to detect iron deficiency before it progresses to anemia, primary prevention of iron deficiency is the only option that may be universally applied. Expert feeding recommendations—such as introducing iron-rich complementary foods after 6 months of age and limiting consumption of milk among children ages 12-24 months to no more than 24 ounces—are useful for promoting adequate intake of readily-available iron and may help prevent iron deficiency.
The effectiveness of the Food Stamp Program (FSP) depends on the extent to which it reaches those who are entitled to benefits. In the mid- to late 1990s, participation fell sharply. In recent years, it rebounded somewhat, reaching 65.1 percent in 2005. Changes in participation patterns can be attributed partly to economic fluctuations, but they were also shaped by the rapidly changing State policy environment. This study combines data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 1996-2003, with data on State-level food stamp, welfare, minimum wage, and Earned Income Tax Credit policy to investigate the effects of policy on food stamp participation. The findings show strong evidence that some FSP policy reforms made after 1999 (such as more lenient vehicle-exemption policies, longer recertification periods, and expanded categorical eligibility) increased food stamp participation. The use of biometric technology, such as fingerprinting, however, lowered participation. The study shows less consistent evidence that more lenient immigrant eligibility rules, simplified reporting, Electronic Benefit Transfers, or outreach spending raised food stamp participation.
In 2003, about 56 percent of those eligible to participate in the Food Stamp Program actually participated. The participation rate varied substantially across States, ranging from a high of 83 percent in Oregon to a low of 43 percent in Massachusetts. Using data for 2003 from the Food Stamp Program Quality Control and Current Population Survey, this study examined factors that help to explain the variation. Results show that different population characteristics across States are a major factor because different types of eligible people tend to participate at different rates. States with a higher share of households headed by elderly people had lower rates, while those with a higher share of households without earnings and headed by nonelderly people had higher participation rates. Yet, substantial variation remained after “standardized” State participation rates were calculated that adjust for these compositional differences. Attempts to further explain these standardized rates by State policies and economic conditions were unsuccessful, perhaps due to the limited sample size and imprecise measures of policies.
This study develops a framework for differentiating true Food Stamp Program (FSP) impacts on food security from those that arise because households with the most severe food-related hardships are more likely to participate in the program. The framework hypothesizes that food spending improvements are the likely causal link between FSP participation and enhanced food security. Since food stamp benefits diminish with income, the incremental effect of FSP participation is also expected to diminish. Using data from the Current Population Survey Food Security Supplements in a statistical framework that controls for household income, the study finds that FSP participants have consistently higher at-home food spending and lower away-from-home-spending than comparable nonparticipants. For both groups, food security rises with income, but food security remains lower for program participants. Because differences in food spending and food security do not disappear as income rises, the study concludes that observed disparities are not likely to be true program impacts.
This study compares the Food Stamp Program (FSP) with eight other public assistance programs across four measures of program effectiveness—administrative costs, error payments, program access, and benefit targeting. The comparison includes two other USDA nutrition assistance programs, three cash assistance programs, and three programs providing noncash benefits other than food or nutrition assistance. Results show that the FSP and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) present contrasting patterns. The EITC program has lower administrative costs and higher program access rates than the FSP, but the FSP is more successful in limiting overpayments. Missing information makes it hard to generalize across the other programs, but there is some evidence suggesting that programs with higher errors have lower administrative costs. Low administrative costs also appear to be inversely associated with good program access for recipients. Also, programs that are more highly targeted tend to have higher benefit delivery costs.
This study used 1999-2004 Current Population Survey data in conjunction with the Urban Institute’s Transfer Income Model (TRIM3) to quantify the impact of the 2002 Farm Bill’s eligibility restorations. About half the estimated impact came from increases in newly eligible families, while the rest came from increases in eligible family members within already-eligible families (usually within families with citizen children). By 2004, the restorations had extended eligibility to roughly 1 million legal immigrants and 148,000 additional families. The extension in eligibility reached around two-thirds of those made ineligible by the 1996 welfare reform law rules and not covered by the 1998 restorations. The estimated participation gain over the period was 780,000 individuals and 139,000 legal immigrant families. The restorations took place in an era of large increases in food stamp caseloads overall; even so, the share of families containing legal immigrants increased substantially.
This report summarizes the methodologies, results and empirical insights of research on nonindigenous species (NIS) introduction risk. This research on trade-related NIS introductions highlights the welfare and biological implications of both broad policy instruments (such as tariffs) and differentiated policy instruments (such as inspections), and the challenge of empirically supporting the latter.
Child obesity poses short- and long-term health risks and may have negative social and economic consequences in adulthood. This study uses data on 8,000 children followed from kindergarten through third grade as part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class to examine predictors of persistent childhood overweight and associated academic and socioemotional outcomes. Results show that socioeconomic status, gender, race, and behavioral and environmental factors influence risk of persistent overweight. The odds of children being overweight increased 3 percent for each additional hour of television that they watched per week and 9 percent for each family meal per week that they did not experience. Overweight children progressed less than their nonoverweight peers did in reading and math achievement, with overweight appearing to precede academic difficulties, and were rated lower on academic and socioemotional factors by their teachers and themselves. Academic and social costs should be considered in assessing costs of childhood overweight and potential benefits of overweight prevention.
This report describes a dynamic bioeconomic simulation model that represents the biological, economic, and regulatory features of a specific invasion management problem: the late 1990s invasion of California strawberries by the greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum, and the pesticide use restrictions imposed by California regulators to manage pesticide resistance. The model has three components: the population dynamics of the greenhouse whitefly, a population-yield damage function, and grower profit maximization. Use regulations are introduced as constraints on the grower’s decision. The cost of the regulations during a single season resulted in the restriction to 2 or fewer applications of pyriproxyfen which always reduced profits. Applying imidacloprid at planting always increased profits. The regulation, which restricts use of imidacloprid at planting only, does not offset the cost of the restriction to 2 or fewer applications of pyriproxyfen per season. Instead, a third application of pyriproxyfen and imidacloprid are complements, so the cost of the 2-application limit per grower is larger when imidacloprid is applied at planting. The requirement regarding the timing of the first application of pyriproxyfen reduced profits. Comparing the regulations’ benefit in slowed resistance to the reduction in profits over a 6-year period shows that there are some conditions under which use regulations provide a net benefit. Regulation, however, does not substitute for coordination among growers when seeking to control the greenhouse whitefly. Greater profits are possible through coordination, even under regulation.
This report examined how decisions to invest in invasive species management on public lands could incorporate economic concepts to better gauge the level of social benefits generated and how optimization models could be applied to produce the maximum potential gains in ecosystem services. Findings suggested that management decisions were effectively modeled using GIS-based decision support tools, providing a means to reveal assumptions and allow greater input by the public and scientific community into the decision-making process. The optimization model results suggested that benefits achieved through invasive species treatment might be improved if multiple ecosystem service benefits were considered simultaneously when choosing sites and treatment options rather than choosing options that maximized a particular ecosystem service.
Preventing and detecting certification errors in the Food Stamp Program (FSP) is a major policy concern. In 2005, the cost of overpayments was $1.29 billion, about 4.5 percent of the $28.6 billion in benefits issued. This report examines the State-level relationships between FSP certification error rates and certification expenditures, program policies, caseload characteristics, and economic conditions. The results show that, during the study period of 1989-2005, a 10-percent increase in certification “effort”—about $35 per participating household—would reduce an index of certification errors by 2 percent (0.3 percentage points out of a mean of 15.1 percent). The effect of certification effort was significantly smaller between 1997 and 2002, when States were implementing welfare reform. Key simplification policies authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill were estimated to jointly reduce the error index by 4.4 percentage points.
This study looks at the relationship between food stamp participation and historical earnings over periods of 10-15 years. Earlier research found that households eligible for the Food Stamp Program that had short-term income declines were less likely to participate than those that had sustained low incomes. This analysis expands on that research by using a data set that matched historical Social Security earnings records to the 1996 Survey of Income and Program Participation, allowing examination of the relationship between participation and earnings over a longer timeframe than available previously. The results show some evidence that historical annual earnings as far back as 5 years earlier are negatively and significantly associated with households’ decisions to participate in the Food Stamp Program; that future earnings, which may proxy for earnings expectations, are also negatively and significantly associated with participation; and that monthly income volatility plays an important role. However, because of weaknesses in the specification of the regression models, findings in this paper are suggestive rather than precise descriptions of the relationship between longer run income and participation.
The U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module was translated into Spanish and adapted for use in the Dominican Republic. Qualitative assessment in a focus group was conducted to confirm the relevance of the concepts and to refine the questions. A pilot survey of 110 households in a rural, economically vulnerable community was conducted, and the data were analyzed to assess the validity of the questions as a multiple-item measure of household food insecurity. Both internal and construct validity appear to be acceptable, although further assessment of two items is recommended. The Dominican survey module complements work in several other countries in Central and South American and the Caribbean to develop a common set of food security questions for use in diverse cultural and linguistic settings.
Each month, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides supplemental food packages to about a half a million low-income pregnant and postpartum women, children younger than 6, and seniors 60 and older. This study—the first in-depth study of the program since 1982—looks at how CSFP operates, who participates in it, and how it fits into the overall food assistance landscape. The study estimates that 2.9 million mothers, infants, and children meet eligibility requirements for CSFP but not for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). An estimated 7.5 million seniors would be eligible if CSFP were available everywhere. In eight States where the program is widely available, more seniors participate in CSFP than in the Food Stamp Program. Use of volunteers, staff stability, and the small scale of operations contribute to CSFP’s simplicity and accessibility. Focus group participants liked the program’s simplicity, the quality of the food it provides, and the nutrition education they received.
This study uses a microsimulation model to assess the effect of changes to State-level Food Stamp Program (FSP) asset rules on household eligibility and on the benefits that eligible households would receive. The findings show that 7 percent of households eligible in 2006 were eligible only through expanded categorical eligibility rules that exempted the households from the standard Federal FSP asset rules and that 1 percent of eligible households were eligible because of State rules that counted fewer vehicle assets toward the asset limits. The number of eligible households would increase by about 3 percent if asset limits were raised by $2,000, by 22 percent if the asset test were eliminated, by 2 percent if retirement accounts were excluded, and by less than half of 1 percent if all vehicles were excluded. Eligibility across States varied widely, with 32 percent of households eligible in at least one State but not eligible in all States. The Food Stamp Program was renamed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in October 2008.
The Food Stamp Program (FSP) is intended to help low-income households afford a nutritionally adequate diet. Welfare (cash assistance) and FSP policies have changed significantly since the 1990s. This report examines 1990-2004 data to consider how the policy changes and the changing economic climate have affected the FSP caseload over time. Results show that the FSP caseload shifted sharply from nearly half receiving cash benefits from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to less than a fifth. The share of the FSP caseload not receiving cash benefits from either TANF or Supplemental Security Income (nonpublic assistance, or NPA) increased sharply. The NPA caseload rose when the economy was weak and was sensitive to reporting requirements for the FSP (for example, how often participants must be recertified as eligible). The decline in the share of the FSP caseload that receives TANF is not well-explained by the changes in the economy or program policies. The Food Stamp Program was renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in October 2008.
Since 1972, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has provided free infant formula to low-income families. Today, infant formula purchases through the WIC program account for roughly half of all infant formula purchased in the United States. Beginning in the late 1980s, WIC agencies, in an effort to contain rising program costs, secured rebates from formula manufacturers through sole-source contracts for the infant formula they purchase. During 1980-2002, infant formula did not substantively change but real wholesale prices nearly doubled. This research examines the impact of providing free formula through the WIC program and its use of sole-source contracts to control program costs on the wholesale price of infant formula. The findings show that providing free formula to low-income families is the primary factor in the growth in real wholesale prices of formula and that sole-source contracts not only have reduced the cost of formula to the Government but also have retarded wholesale price growth.
This study examines how earnings variability affects Food Stamp Program participation and how the effects differ depending on a household’s income position relative to the eligibility threshold. The study uses survey data from the Three-City Study, which is a longitudinal survey of low-income families with children living in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio. The data in the Three-City Study have been linked to administrative case records on program participation. The study estimates longitudinal fixed-effect regression models of the times that households spend on food stamps and distinguishes between households that appear to be eligible or ineligible for food stamps based on longer run income data. Temporary earnings increases and higher annual earnings variability reduce participation for households with low levels of permanent income. Higher annual earnings variability also reduces program participation for higher income households, but the effect is smaller in magnitude.
This study investigated factors that influence students’ participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). The analysis used recently collected data on a large, nationally representative sample of students certified for free and reduced-price meals during the 2005–06 school year. Results show that, although eligible students are very likely to participate in the programs (i.e. pick up the meal offered that day), eligible elementary school students are more likely to participate than are middle or high school students. Likewise, students who like the taste of the meals are more likely to participate than are students who do not like the taste. In addition, if students now eligible for reduced-price lunches were instead given free lunches, they would participate more than they do now. The same was not strictly the case, however, for breakfast. Finally, the study suggests that analysts should use caution in relying on parents’ reports of a student’s participation to estimate yearly school meal participation. Parental reports of the previous day’s or previous week’s participation tend to overstate participation, which results in higher reported annual participation rates than is true according to administrative data.
Participation in the School Breakfast Program is much less common than participation in the National School Lunch Program, even among children with access to both programs. This report examines the determinants of participation in the School Breakfast Program among third grade public school students, as well as the impacts of the program on food insecurity and children‘s risk of skipping breakfast. Data are from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey—Kindergarten Cohort and from the Wisconsin Schools Food Security Survey. The study found that students are more likely to participate when breakfast is served in the classroom, when time available for breakfast in school is longer, and when they come from lower income or time-constrained households. Children with access to the School Breakfast Program are more likely to eat breakfast in the morning and that program access may enhance food security among families at the margin of food insecurity.
This study used data from the School Nutrition Dietary Assessment III Study to examine the dietary patterns of school meal program participants and nonparticipants and the relationship between school meal participation and children’s Body Mass Index (BMI). School Breakfast Program (SBP) participants ate more low-nutrient energy-dense (LNED) baked goods and more calories at breakfast than did nonparticipants. National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participants had lower intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and a lower percentage of calories from LNED foods and beverages than did nonparticipants. Overall, NSLP participation was not significantly related to students’ BMI, although participants were less likely to be overweight or obese than nonparticipants among Black students but more likely to be so among “other race” students. SBP participants had significantly lower BMI than did nonparticipants, possibly because SBP participants are more likely to eat breakfast and eat more at breakfast, spreading calorie intake more evenly over the course of the day.
This study uses a unique combination of State panel data and qualitative interviews to examine the economic and policy factors associated with the sharp increase in the number of Food Stamp Program (FSP) participants between 2000 and 2006. This period is particularly interesting because the rise in participation between 2003 and 2006 occurred while the national economy was improving. Higher numbers of participants were associated with higher State unemployment rates and lower State labor force participation rates and minimum wages. The introduction of FSP policies designed to expand eligibility and ease reporting also increased the number of participants. In addition, program outreach efforts were associated with higher caseloads in times of low unemployment. Interviews with State FSP administrators and staff at community-based organizations reinforce the quantitative findings and point to declining local economic conditions and high-quality program outreach as the main sources of caseload growth. The Food Stamp Program was renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in October 2008.
This study examines the economic coping strategies of low-income families, using data collected through qualitative interviews conducted in 2006-08 with 35 low-income women residing in the Detroit metropolitan area. Three rounds of interviews found that the majority of the sample were employed at least some of the time, and most had children living with them. Despite careful shopping practices, rising food prices forced cutbacks in purchase of certain foods, including milk, cereal, fruits, and meat. Just under half reported running out of food at some point during the year. As for government assistance, the then named Food Stamp Program, and now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), was their mainstay. Even when eligible for benefits, many of the families did not receive cash assistance, unemployment benefits, or workers’ compensation due to perceived access barriers.
Many low-income American Indians and Alaskan Natives residing on or near reservations may participate in either of two USDA food assistance programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called the Food Stamp Program) or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). SNAP provides benefits via an electronic debit card that can be used to purchase food at authorized retailers, whereas FDPIR provides a basket of food items. Eligibility requirements for the two programs are similar, but not identical, and households may not participate in both programs during the same month. Those who are eligible for both programs must choose between them. This report combines findings from site visits to seven reservations that participate in FDPIR with analysis of administrative and survey data to compare the two programs with regard to eligibility, participation, administration, and possible effects on health and nutrition. Results show that FDPIR benefits some households that are not eligible for SNAP. Simulation estimates suggest that, in an average month, 13 percent of households eligible for FDPIR would not be eligible for SNAP. Another 41 percent of the households eligible for FDPIR are eligible for SNAP but would receive FDPIR commodities with a retail value above the SNAP benefit. The remaining 46 percent of households eligible for FDPIR are eligible for SNAP and would receive more benefits from that program than from FDPIR.
Using data from the third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study (SNDA-III), this study assessed the quality of school-age children’s overall diets and the relationship to school meal participation, using a version of the Healthy Eating Index (HEI)-2005 adapted to use with a school-age population. Propensity score matching techniques were used to control for observed characteristics of school meal participants and nonparticipants. Overall, school meal participants and nonparticipants had diets of similar quality, although school meal participation was associated with better Milk Group intakes and lower intakes of Healthy Oils. Diets of both groups had substantial room for improvement.
Nearly 15 percent of all households and 39 percent of near-poor households were food insecure in 2008. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called the Food Stamp Program) is the cornerstone of Federal food assistance programs and serves as the first line of defense against food-related hardship, such as food insecurity. This study measures SNAP's effectiveness in reducing food insecurity, using the 1996, 2001, and 2004 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) panels and a dummy endogenous variable model with instrumental variables to control for selection bias. The results suggest that receiving SNAP benefits reduces the likelihood of being food insecure by roughly 30 percent and the likelihood of being very food insecure by 20 percent. These findings provide evidence that SNAP is meeting its key goal of reducing food-related hardship.
Using 2005 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment survey, this study examines the contribution of school meals to the food and nutrient intake of children in food-secure, marginally secure, and food-insecure households. The study finds that children from food-insecure and marginally secure households receive a larger proportion of their food and nutrient intakes at school than do children from highly secure households. This difference is partially explained by the higher participation rates of the insecure and marginally secure in school meal programs. The average amount of foods and nutrients consumed were similar across food security levels, except that children from marginally secure households consumed fewer calories (and thus nutrients) than both other groups. Breakfast skipping was significantly more common among the food-insecure and marginally secure children. Even at schools with breakfast programs, 20 percent of children from food-insecure and marginally secure households did not eat breakfast, for reasons that will require further study to explore.
The obesity epidemic in the United States calls for action on a national level, yet the potential economic effects of such interventions are unclear. Researchers identified six randomized, controlled trials of community-based interventions to address childhood obesity at different ages that demonstrated a significant change in the prevalence of obesity in the target population. The effects obtained in those trials were applied to a new model of obesity through the life course (ages 3-65 years) in order to estimate the health and economic effects from such interventions scaled to the national level. Even the most effective intervention did not persistently affect the national prevalence of obesity more than 20 years after the intervention was completed. Furthermore, the economic impact of interventions was less than 10 percent of the total excess costs related to obesity for each birth cohort. This study underscores the challenges of addressing obesity at the national level and emphasizes how critical it will be to obtain long-term followup data on children enrolled in prior and future trials.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) have no eligibility restrictions based on the legal status of immigrants. This study reveals an increase in the number and share of immigrants and their children in WIC and NSLP between the mid-1990s and 2006; however, their share of participants is generally comparable to their share of the eligible population. Findings suggest that immigrants face fewer barriers to access in WIC and NSLP than they do for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and other benefits subject to immigration-related eligibility restrictions.
Elderly adults (ages 60 or older) participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program, at lower rates than other eligible people. This report provides State information on the characteristics of elderly SNAP participants and eligibles and elderly participation rates that can be used both in assessing the success of past efforts and when considering additional efforts to increase elderly SNAP participation. The report is based on analyses from a Survey of Income and Program Participation-based microsimulation model, SNAP Quality Control data files, the Current Population Survey, and other data. The report finds that the estimated elderly SNAP participation rate increased steadily from 25 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2002 to 34 percent in FY 2006. The highest elderly participation rates were found in Hawaii, Florida, Maine, New York, and Oregon. The States with the largest elderly participation rate increases were Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Washington.
This study used administrative records for 50,067 applications and 34,914 benefit spells in South Carolina for the period October 1996-November 2007 to examine households’ applications to and participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We modeled application resolutions where the possible outcomes were acceptance, denial due to income ineligibility, denial due to a failure to provide sufficient information, and denial for other reasons. For cases with successful applications, we modeled the durations of participation spells to distinguish among exits that result from missed recertifications, financial ineligibility, incomplete or missing information, and other reasons. The results indicate that a household’s application and participation history affect its subsequent application success and program tenure. Applicants with recent SNAP program experience are more likely to have their applications accepted than other applicants. Among the applicants with recent program experience, the way in which a previous spell ends helps to predict how their next application will be resolved and how their next participation spell will end. Households face an increased risk of having a SNAP participation spell end for financial ineligibility if an earlier participation spell ended for that reason. Similarly, households face an increased risk of having their applications denied or participation spells end for information deficiencies if an earlier spell ended that way.
Recent revisions to the food packages provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) added healthy foods and required WIC-authorized stores to make these foods available. This study examined the availability, variety, and prices of healthy foods before and after implementation of the food package revisions in 252 convenience and nonchain grocery stores in Connecticut. The findings provide strong evidence that stores responded to the food package revisions by improving the availability and variety of healthy foods in both urban and suburban settings. Most of these improvements occurred in WIC-authorized convenience and grocery stores, especially those in low-income neighborhoods. Some positive changes in the availability of whole-grain products were also observed in non-WIC convenience and grocery stores. The policy change, which targets WIC participants, improved access to healthy foods for both WIC and non-WIC consumers.
This study uses administrative records from participants in a longitudinal study of low-income families in three U.S. cities to determine whether enrollment in the Food Stamp Program increased in households with U.S.-born children and foreign-born heads after legal immigrants’ access to the program was restored under the Farm Bill Act of 2002. The analysis includes cross-tabulation, graphical comparisons, and multivariate Cox proportional hazard models predicting the risk of program entry and program exit. Results indicate that there was a short-term spike in the likelihood of enrollment by households headed by noncitizen parents immediately after the Farm Bill Act was fully implemented in October 2003. For this population, the likelihood of enrollment declined by April 2004, but participation in the post-Farm Bill Act era remained elevated through 2006 compared with prior periods.
This report describes the individual and household characteristics of low-income middle-aged and older women with childrearing responsibilities and documents the extent to which they receive food stamps and other public assistance benefits. The analysis is based on 1,756 low-income women in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio who were primary caretakers of minor children when first surveyed in 1999, and who were subsequently interviewed again in 2001 and 2005. We find that older and younger low-income women in this sample were similar in most respects but that women in the older age group were more likely than the younger women to be grandmothers caring for grandchildren and reported more health and disability issues. The analysis also indicates that food stamps were the most common public benefit received but was received more by women in the younger cohort, suggesting that greater outreach may be worth considering for older caregiver women.
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