Research

2013

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).

SNAP has proven to be one of the most successful safety net programs since its implementation 50 years ago. This program has often come under attack throughout its history for many perceived problems (e.g., that it discourages labor force participation). Most recently, SNAP has come under attack for being perceived as one of the causes of the current rates of obesity found in the U.S. One response that has gained some traction is to restrict what can and cannot be purchased with SNAP.

2012

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson went to Kentucky’s Martin County to declare war on poverty. The following year he signed the Appalachian Regional Development Act, creating a state-federal partnership to improve the region’s economic prospects through better job opportunities, greater human capital, and enhanced transportation. As the focal point of domestic antipoverty efforts, Appalachia took on special symbolic as well as economic importance. Nearly half a century later, what are the results?

This report presents evidence that spikes in regional and household characteristics played a significant role in the observed 2008 increase in child with very low food security and low food security. Perhaps not surprisingly, unemployment of the household head is found to substantially increase the probability of very low food security and low food insecurity among children. Further, simulations of changes in regional economic conditions indicate rising unemployment rates during the Great Recession explain a significant portion of observed increases in child food insecurity.

This paper exploits a source of variation in the eligibility for federal nutrition programs to identify the program effects on food insecurity. Children are eligible for the WIC program until the day before they turn 61 months old. The result is an age discontinuity in program participation at the 61-month cutoff. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth-cohort dataset, we find strong evidence of a sizeable increase in household food insecurity at the 61-month cutoff.

This paper examines the association between poverty and food insecurity among children using the official measure of poverty and the newsupplemental poverty measure of the Census Bureau based on a more inclusive definition of family resources and needs. Our objective is to study whether the association between food insecurity and poverty improves with a more comprehensive measure of income and needs.

Does the safety net reduce food insecurity in families? In this paper we investigate how the structure of benefits for five major safety net programs – TANF, SSI, EITC, SNAP, and Medicaid – affects low food security in families and very low food security among children. We build a calculator for the years 2001-2009 to impute eligibility and benefits for these programs in each state, taking into account cross-program eligibility rules.

The prevalence of multigenerational families is on the rise in the United States, as is food insecurity. We estimate the effect of resident grandchildren on the risk of and transitions in food insecurity using repeated cross sections and longitudinally linked two-year panels of the Current Population Survey from 2001-2010.

Very low food security among young children is associated with developmental deficiencies. However, little is known about the factors that predict entry into or exit from very low food security during early childhood. This study seeks to, 1) Understand the triggers that explain movements into or out of very low food security among children from birth to age five; and, 2) Examine the first aim using different definitions of food insecurity.