IRP RIDGE Center Annual Research Themes

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2012–2013 Research Theme

The Role of Food Assistance Programs During and After the Great Recession

2012–2013 Call for Proposals and Award Guidelines (PDF) (LOI due 3/23/12; proposal due 4/16/12)

For the past three years, national food insecurity rates have hovered in the 14 to 15 percent range – the highest since official measurement began in the mid-1990s. The sharp increases in food insecurity have been accompanied by large increases in participation in federal food and nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as school meal programs. Food assistance via SNAP serves at least one person in seven nationwide; participation in the School Breakfast Program continues to increase; and there is growing attention to efforts to increase the availability of summer food programs. Some view the growth in these programs as signs of a flexible safety net that is doing its job.  At the same time, others have raised concerns about growing dependence on public programs.

A variety of research has examined factors associated with participation in food assistance programs, and the implications of program participation for outcomes related to food security, consumption, health, employment, and other related areas. Much of this research focuses on causes and impacts of program participation prior to the Great Recession and the recent caseload increases.  In light of the growth in participation over the past several years, an up-to-date understanding of the causes and consequences of program participation is of particular interest.

The focus of the 2012–2013 funding competition is on understanding the role of food assistance programs in the context of the Great Recession and continued high rates of poverty and unemployment. We are interested in any research questions that seek to shed light on patterns of participation, the role of food assistance programs as part of the broader public and private safety net, and the impacts of food assistance programs on recipients’ well-being and behavior broadly defined. Our focus is, specifically, on research addressing participation in and impacts of food assistance programs during and after the Great Recession, and thus on research that can shed light on the roles currently played by these programs in contributing to economic security and well-being.

Calls for proposals are released in February each year for awards to begin July 1 and run 18 months. View the 2012–2013 Call for Proposals and Award Guidelines (PDF).

The 2012–2013 grant awardees present their preliminary work at an IRP-hosted workshop in the spring of 2013, at which they receive feedback on their research, and at a USDA/ERS-hosted conference in the fall of 2013.

Previous Themes: 2011–2012 | 2010–2011