Research

2013

This chapter reviews recent theory and empirical evidence regarding the effect of SNAP on food insecurity and replicates the modelling strategies used in the empirical literature. The authors find that recent evidence suggesting an ameliorative effect of SNAP on food insecurity may not be robust to specification choice or data. Most specifications mirror the existing literature in finding a positive association of food insecurity with SNAP participation.

The Great Recession and its immediate aftermath have brought increasing attention both to food insecurity among children and to the associated food safety net. This chapter examines how SNAP functions as a component of the broader food assistance safety net for school-age children, focusing on connections between SNAP and the school meal programs at a policy level, as well patterns in children’s participation across programs. Food assistance programs are a mainstay of children’s overall household resources.

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.

One in seven Americans received assistance from SNAP in FY 2012, which is a rate 141 percent higher than in FY 2000, but only 59 percent higher than in FY 1980. In this paper, I describe the socioeconomic and policy climate in recent decades that had bearing on SNAP participation, along with a formal empirical analysis of those determinants and detailed simulations of the relative contributions of the economy, policy, and demographics to changes in SNAP participation over time.

This research examined VLFS in children among households with foreign-born (FB) mothers compared to US-born mothers through three research questions: Is mother’s foreign-born status (FBS) associated with VLFS in children, and can association be explained by mothers’ socio-demographic characteristics? Are FB mothers more or less likely to receive nutrition or non-nutrition assistance benefits, or work for pay than US-born mothers? Do mothers’ FBS, or protective/risk factors associated with FBS, modify associations of negative economic shocks and hardships with VLFS in children?

Survey of Income and Program Participation data are used to investigate the relationship between parenting and children’s very low food security. Parenting is characterized along five domains (emotional outlook, support, education desires, activities with the child excluding meals, and television viewing rules). Food security definitions are obtained from questions in a special SIPP module that are based on the USDA’s core food security module. Graphical evidence indicates that parenting patterns differ distinctly for households experiencing various levels of food insecurity.

Low- and moderate-income (LMI) households with children often face considerable difficulties in ensuring enough financial resources for an adequate diet. This project investigates the use of financial services and other financial decisions parents make that may affect the risk of very low food security and food insecurity of children.

Our paper examines the prevalence and determinants of children’s transitions into and out of food insecurity since 2001. We use longitudinally linked data from the Food Security Supplements to the Current Population Surveys to estimate one-year transition probabilities of entry and exit from food insecurity. Our results indicate that child hunger is typically short-lived, but children experiencing very low food security frequently experience multiple consecutive years of food insecurity.

Food insecurity is detrimental to children’s well-being. A better understanding of factors contributing to low and very low food security among children in the United States can guide the design of food assistance programs. We analyze the effects of household characteristics and local food environment attributes, including food prices and availability of food stores and eating places, on children’s food insecurity. We also investigate the effects of these characteristics and attributes on food preparation time.

In the report we provide an overview of the extent and distribution of food insecurity among senior Americans in 2011, along with trends over the past decade using national and state-level data from the December Supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS). Based on the full set of 18 questions in the Core Food Security Module (CFSM), the module used by the USDA to establish the official food insecurity rates of households in the United States, our emphasis here is on quantifying the senior population facing the threat of hunger (i.e. marginally food insecure).