2012–2013 Funded RIDGE Center Grants

Five food assistance research proposals were awarded funding for 2012–2013 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, 2012, through December 31, 2013.

Proposals funded for the period July 1, 2012, through December 31, 2013


Food Assistance During and After the Great Recession in Metropolitan Detroit
Scott Allard, University of Chicago and Sandra Danziger, University of Michigan

Drawing upon data from the first two waves of the Michigan Recession and Recovery Survey (MRRS), a representative sample of working-age adults in the Detroit Metropolitan Area, this project will explore the following three research questions related to the receipt of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits among low-income households:

  • How have low-income families in the Detroit Metropolitan Area bundled SNAP with other types of public assistance, help from charitable nonprofits, and informal social support in the wake of the Great Recession?
  • When controlling for economic shocks and respondent characteristics, to what extent is access to local food assistance providers related to receipt of SNAP assistance?
  • How are receipt of SNAP assistance and economic shocks related to household food shopping behaviors, food security, and financial hardships?

A primary contribution of this project will be insight into how low-income families combine governmental and nongovernmental food assistance with other safety net programs to weather the effects of job loss and economic recession. Such insights should be useful for planning program outreach and efforts to enroll households eligible for different types of public assistance.

DP 1420-14 | Project Summary

The Effects of SNAP after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009)
Timothy Beatty and Elton Mykerezi, University of Minnesota

The Great Recession was preceded by a housing market crisis that resulted in substantial economic insecurity among U.S. households, with poverty, unemployment, and food insecurity reaching near-record highs. This study will use recent household-level data from the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics (PSID) and the American Community Survey (ACS) to examine the impact of two key changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during the Great Recession in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—the unprecedented increase in benefits and waivers of restrictions for Able Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWD). 

This study seeks to disentangle the effects of SNAP program changes from those of reduced wealth due to the housing crisis and other economic circumstances. Of interest are the effects on program participation, labor force decisions, and household well-being. Identification of the effects of SNAP benefit changes will come from the fact that there have been several changes in SNAP benefits over the last few years, followed by an unprecedented ARRA increase on April 1, 2009. The effects of ABAWD restriction waivers will be identified by using state and county variation in ABAWD restriction waivers in the years prior to ARRA.

Impact of the 2009 ARRA Increase in SNAP Benefits on Dietary Intake and Consumption Patterns
Partha Deb, Hunter College, and Geetha Waehrer, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation

This study will examine the impact of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) expansions in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on the food intake and consumption patterns of food stamp recipients. Also examined will be the effect of higher benefits on the monthly cycling in food intake among food stamp recipients. Such cycling may be associated with unhealthy weight outcomes. These questions will be studied using 2007 to 2008 and 2009 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data on food intake during the economic downturn, before and after passage of the ARRA. Pre- and post-ARRA data on SNAP-eligible participants and nonparticipants will allow estimation of difference-in-difference models of the effects of the ARRA SNAP increases on food intake.

Results of the study are expected to shed light on the adequacy of the pre-ARRA Thrifty Food Plan allotments for maintaining a healthy diet and help policymakers gauge the value of maintaining the SNAP expansions beyond the planned expiration date.

Are WIC and School Meal Programs Effectively Reaching Those in Need? Trends in Children's Early and Continuous Use of Federal Nutritional Policy
Margot Jackson, Brown University

For the 20 percent of American children who live in poverty, and the 23 percent of children who live in food insecure households, nutritional policy provides an essential safety net against hunger and its negative effects on children's development. Although it has been established that more mothers and children have enrolled in federal nutritional programs over the period before and after the Great Recession, it is unclear whether this increase has been experienced equally by children of all ages and by mothers in all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

Using longitudinal data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), this project will examine whether children's exposure to nutritional policy has remained steady or increased as families' economic need has increased during the recession. Three programs form the basis of the study: the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); the National School Breakfast Program (SBP); and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

DP 1423-14 | Project Summary

The Dynamics of Joint Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Unemployment Insurance by Low-Educated Workers during the Great Recession
H. Luke Shaefer and Alix Gould-Werth, University of Michigan

This project will explore the dynamics of joint participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Unemployment Insurance (UI) among low-educated unemployed workers during and after the Great Recession. Our preliminary analyses indicate that joint SNAP-UI participation has been more common recently for some low-educated unemployed workers. However, little is known about the characteristics of those who access both programs during unemployment. Of special interest is the sequencing of program utilization. Do workers who combine SNAP and UI take up both immediately after job loss? Do they enter SNAP only after exhausting UI, or are they more likely to have used SNAP even while working?

Data from the 2008 Panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) will be analyzed. The SIPP is a nationally representative survey that follows roughly 40,000 households from late 2008 through the end of 2012, well-timed to study the Great Recession period.

DP 1422-14 | Project Summary

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