Food insecurity, defined as a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food, is a substantial threat to public health in the United States. In 2017, nearly 12% of households reported being food insecure, affecting over 40 million persons.
The SNAP program cost one half of one percent, according to a 2013 estimate by Robert Moffitt. For that amount we get a 16 percent reduction in poverty (8 million fewer poor people) after an adjustment for underreporting, based on USDA Administrative data. Moreover we get a 41 percent cut in the poverty gap, which measures the depth of poverty and a 54 percent decline in the severity of poverty, when we add SNAP benefits to Census money incomes and recalculate the official poverty rate.
Despite the health benefits of participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), many eligible households do not participate in WIC during pregnancy and others exit WIC after a child turns one year old. This research uses the first two waves of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) to advance our understanding of these transitions into and out of WIC.