2011–2012 Funded IRP RIDGE Center Grants

Five food assistance research proposals were awarded funding for 2011–2012 by the IRP RIDGE Center for National Food and Nutrition Assistance Research in conjunction with the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grants in the amount of $40,000 run from July 1, 2011, through December 31, 2012.

Proposals funded for the period July 1, 2011, through December 31, 2012


Does the Neighborhood Food Environment Influence the Relationship between Food Stamp Program Participation and Weight-Related Outcomes?
Diane Gibson, School of Public Affairs, Baruch College, City University of New York

Using a sample of low-income adults, this project will examine whether the availability of food retail and food service establishments in a person’s neighborhood of residence (a person’s “neighborhood food environment”) was associated with the types of establishments where the person purchased food, the person’s daily energy intake, weight status, and weight-related comorbidities, and will consider whether these associations differed for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly Food Stamp Program or FSP) participants compared to eligible nonparticipants. The results of this project will offer insight into whether the neighborhood food environment influences how food spending is allocated across types of food establishments and whether changing the allocation of food spending across types of food establishments in turn leads to differences in energy intake, weight status, and weight-related comorbidities for low-income individuals, SNAP participants, and eligible nonparticipants.

DP 1406-13 | Project Summary

Food Stamps, Food Insufficiency, and Diet-Related Diseases among the Elderly
Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley, Department of Economics, Kent State University

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that less than 41 percent of the elderly—the fastest-growing population in the United States—who are eligible for food assistance participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Studies document that lack of information about eligibility for food assistance appears to be the principal reason for this. This study examines the effect of SNAP participation on reported food insufficiency and diet-related diseases among the elderly to better understand potential long-term health consequences of food insufficiency. The study will test whether those eligible elderly persons who participate in SNAP report reduced rates of food insufficiency and diet-related diseases.

DP 1407-13 | Project Summary

Studying Non-Use of Food Assistance among Low-Income San Franciscans
David B. Grusky and Christopher Wimer, Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, Stanford University

This qualitative study examines low-income San Franciscans’ decision-making around using or not using food from food banks and government food assistance programs. This project will help understand the in-depth processes that underlie low-income people’s decisions around food assistance, and therefore help public and private stakeholders improve systems of food assistance delivery, particularly around increasing take-up of healthy foods like fresh produce. Using approximately 60 in-depth interviews with low-income San Franciscans, this study will address the following questions: (1) What are the most prevalent reasons for non-use among low-income individuals who do not access food bank services? (2) How do the prevalence of these reasons differ by groups of individuals (parents of schoolchildren, residents of low-income housing projects, and unemployed individuals)? (3) How and why do non-users interface with other government food assistance programs like food stamps, school meals, etc.? And (4) How and why do nonusers utilize cheap, unhealthy food like fast food and “junk” food vs. the healthier food, including fresh produce, that they might get from food bank sites?

DP 1408-13 | Project Summary

Food Assistance and Children’s Eating Patterns, Food Insecurity, and Obesity: The Influence of Local Food Prices
Taryn Morrissey and Alison Jacknowitz, Department of Public Administration and Policy, American University

In 2009, approximately 23 percent of households with children aged 6 and younger in the United States were food insecure. At the same time, over-nutrition is a growing problem among American children; 10.4 percent of 2- to 5-year-old children were considered obese (above the 95th percentile for age and gender) in 2007 to 2008, double the rate in the 1970s. This study examines how local food prices affect children’s food insecurity, obesity, and eating habits, and whether food assistance receipt buffers these effects. Specifically, the two primary research objectives of this study are to: (1) Estimate how local food prices influence the food insecurity, obesity status, and eating patterns of children from birth to 5 years of age. And (2) Understand how participation in food assistance programs changes the relationship between food prices and the food insecurity, obesity status, and eating patterns of children from birth to 5 years of age.
Study results will have important policy implications, particularly in light of increasing food prices.

DP 1409-13 | Project Summary

SNAP Participation, Food Choices, Nutritional and Health Outcomes among Low-Income Women
Zhou Yang, Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

Food insecurity and obesity are two major public health crises posing serious health threats to low-income families in the United States. As an entitlement program for people living in poverty and the working poor, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was originally designed to improve the nutritional and health outcomes of adults and children facing food insecurity. With the development of the food industry and changes in lifestyle in recent decades, as well as the deterioration of the food environment in many low-income neighborhoods, it is not clear if SNAP fulfills its original mission today without regulations or interventions on food choices, food environment, or behavioral counseling. This study will investigate the effect of SNAP participation on body weight and health outcomes (measured by lab results and physical examination) through its influence on food choices (measured by calorie balance and nutrients intake) among low-income women in the United States. The study will use merged secondary data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and supplemental data from the USDA and Chamber of Commerce from 2007 to 2008.

Project Summary

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