IRP RIDGE Center Annual Research Themes

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2014–2015 Research Theme

The Impacts of Food Assistance Programs on Food Security, Consumption Patterns, Food Choices, Nutritional Outcomes, and Other Diet-Related Health Outcomes

2014–2015 Call for Proposals and Award Guidelines (PDF) (Letter of intent due April 18, 2014; proposal due May 2, 2014)

Food assistance programs have grown dramatically in recent years. Program growth has occurred in conjunction with other trends, including persistently high poverty and food insecurity rates, high rates of diet-linked health problems, and growing attention to the health implications of food choices. Due in part to these converging trends, there is increasing interest in the potential of food assistance programs to serve as vehicles for influencing food insecurity, food choices, food consumption patterns, and diet-linked health outcomes such as obesity and early-onset diabetes.

A variety of research has explored the impact of food assistance programs on food insecurity, with the bulk of this effort focused on SNAP, and considered a range of strategies to address differences between participants and nonparticipants. Less research has focused on the impact of other food assistance programs on food insecurity, or on a more nuanced understanding of the programmatic and nonprogrammatic factors that may influence the relationship between food assistance programs and food hardships, as well as differential impacts across subgroups. Likewise there remain many unanswered questions related to the impact of food assistance programs on food consumption patterns and diet-linked health outcomes, including effects that may stem from timing and cyclicality of benefits, duration and intensity of benefits, changes in foods provided (such as with WIC), fluctuations over time in the amount of SNAP benefits, and similar questions.

The 2014–2015 IRP RIDGE Center for National Food and Nutrition Assistance Research funding competition seeks to expand understanding of these issues by focusing on the impacts of food assistance programs on food insecurity, consumption patterns, food choices, nutritional outcomes, and other diet-related health outcomes. Overall, we are seeking to fund work that expands our understanding of the importance of food assistance programs in influencing a variety of outcomes directly linked to the food and nutrition focus of the programs.

We are especially seeking proposals that go beyond broad questions of whether binary indicators of program participation are linked to food security outcomes; we have particular interest in proposals that examine more nuanced questions involving the role of program characteristics, program implementation, interactions between assistance programs and local contexts, the impacts of multiple program participation, impacts that may differ across populations or circumstances, impacts that are linked to duration and intensity of program exposure, and similar topics. We hope to fund research examining a range of food assistance programs (SNAP, the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Programs, WIC), and a range of food- and nutrition-related outcomes.

View the 2014–2015 Call for Proposals and Award Guidelines (PDF).

Previous Themes: 2013–2014 | 2012–2013 | 2011–2012 | 2010–2011