IRP RIDGE Center for National Food and Nutrition Assistance Research

About the IRP RIDGE Center

The primary mission of the IRP RIDGE Center for National Food and Nutrition Assistance Research at the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) is to (1) stimulate innovative research related to food assistance programs; (2) enable training of researchers interested in food assistance issues; and (3) provide timely and accessible information on new research findings.

Longtime food and nutrition assistance researcher Judith Bartfeld serves as Center Director and IRP Director Lawrence Berger as Center Associate Director. The Center is integrated with the broader initiatives of IRP, thus benefiting from IRP’s resources, training initiatives, and national network of scholars.

Important RIDGE research priorities include understanding the interplay between economic conditions, food systems, and the functioning of food assistance programs; the determinants of food choices among program participants; and the impact of food assistance programs on participants’ obesity status to determine the magnitude of these effects and their implications for food assistance programs.

IRP has served as the national RIDGE center since January 2010, when the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program (FANRP) of USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) awarded IRP the five-year grant following a nationwide competition. As the new RIDGE (Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics) Center, IRP serves as a national hub for sponsoring new, innovative research related to such programs as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps); Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); the National School Lunch Program; and the School Breakfast Program; and as a center for training and mentoring scholars.

ERS also established a second research hub, the RIDGE Center for Targeted Food and Nutrition Assistance Research, at the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC), Mississippi State University (MSU), as part of this restructuring and consolidation of the former RIDGE Program, which was administered by five institutions, including IRP, from 1999–2009. The SRDC center will support food and nutrition assistance research directed at specific populations, including rural residents, Native Americans, and immigrants.

By establishing the RIDGE Center for National Food and Nutrition Assistance Research, IRP continues its long tradition of conducting policy-relevant research, training and mentoring the next generation of poverty scholars, and broadly disseminating its findings, with a renewed emphasis on food assistance research.

IRP RIDGE Small Grants Program

Extramural Grants

Through the IRP RIDGE Small Grants Program, IRP and its partner the Economic Research Service of the USDA seek to stimulate innovative research related to federal food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) and the National School Breakfast/Lunch Program.

The focus of the 2015–2016 funding competition is on understanding the impacts of food assistance programs on child, adult, and family well-being.

The request for proposals for 2015–2016 RIDGE competition was released on March 11, 2014. A notice of intent is due April 17, 2015. The competition closes at 5:00 p.m. CDT on May 6, 2015. The awards run from July 1, 2015, through December 31, 2016. The RFP includes selection criteria and grant terms.

Subscribe to the IRP RIDGE Listserv

The IRP RIDGE listserv provides periodic notification of food assistance research grant opportunities, calls for visiting scholar applications, and links to new research findings. To subscribe, send an e-mail to: with "subscribe" in the subject line.