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Recent Nutrition Assistance Publications and Reports

This page offers relevant research and commentary relating to food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and child nutrition. Nutrition assistance publications and reports archive available here.



  • John, S., Lyerly, R., Wilde, P., Cohen, E.D., Lawson, E. and Nunn, A., 2021. The Case for a National SNAP Fruit and Vegetable Incentive Program.  American Journal of Public Health, 111(1), pp. 27-29.

This commentary makes the argument for national SNAP fruit and vegetable expansion in light of public health impact, unsustainable funding, and adequate evidence to establish a cohesive SNAP incentive model that reaches all SNAP participants.


Bitler, a 2017 RIDGE grantee, and colleagues review food assistance relief provided in the Families First Coronavirus Act and the CARES Act and persisting high food insecurity rates, exploring implications of relief timing, magnitude, and coverage gaps.


  • Valizadeh, P. and Smith, T.A., 2020. How Did The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Affect the Material Well‐Being of SNAP Participants? A Distributional Approach. Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy42(3), pp.455-476.

Valizadeh, a 2019 RIDGE grantee, and co-authors explore the 2009 ARRA SNAP benefit increase and subsequent 2013 benefit cuts impact across SNAP subpopulations, providing specific policy recommendations based on findings.


  • Valizadeh, P., Smith, T.A. and Ver Ploeg, M., 2020. Do SNAP Households Pay Different Prices throughout the Benefit Month?. Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy.

Valizadeh, a 2019 RIDGE grantee, and colleagues analyze the role of the price component of expenditure across the SNAP benefit cycle for SNAP-participating households, examining price decline and associations with shopping behaviors and household characteristics and preferences.


  • Heflin, C.M., Arteaga, I., Ndashimye, J.F. et al., 2020. Childhood injuries and food stamp benefits: an examination of administrative data in one US state. BMC Pediatr 20(297).

The authors use state SNAP and Medicaid administrative data to explore associations in the monthly patterns of the timing of SNAP receipt and ER admissions in Missouri.


  • Bleich, S.N., Moran, A.J., Vercammen, K.A., Frelier, J.M., Dunn, C.G., Zhong, A. and Fleischhacker, S.E., 2020. Strengthening the public health impacts of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through policy. Annual Review of Public Health41, pp.453-480.

This review presents a framework describing the mechanisms through which SNAP can influence public health by affecting food security, diet quality, and health of SNAP participants, and identifies policy opportunities to strengthen public health impacts of SNAP through food production and distribution, benefit allocation, and eligibility and enrollment.


  • Puma, J.E., Young, M., Foerster, S., Keller, K., Bruno, P., Franck, K. and Naja-Riese, A., 2020. The SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework: Nationwide Uptake and Implications for Nutrition Education Practice, Policy, and Research. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

This study provides a census of SNAP-Ed state implementing agencies’ intent to use and evaluate SNAP-Ed evaluation framework indicators across individual, environmental, sectors of influence, and population levels as well as short-, medium-, and long-term indicators. 


  • Engel, K. and Ruder, E.H., 2020. Fruit and Vegetable Incentive Programs for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participants: A Scoping Review of Program Structure. Nutrients12(6), p.1676.

This systematic review of SNAP fruit and vegetable incentive programs examines components of incentive program structures that may affect program effectiveness including recruitment, incentive delivery and timing, incentive value, eligible foods, and retail venue across 19 quasi-experimental publications on SNAP incentive programs.


  • Pino, L.J., 2020. Immigration policy and perception impacts on SNAP access and eligibility: a view from the field. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems35(4), pp.416-419.

Former USDA Deputy Administrator reflects on experiences leading SNAP, specifically focusing on 1) need for increased SNAP data access, 2) participation gap amongst eligible immigrant and Latinx households, and 3) fear impeding SNAP participation amongst immigrant and Latinx households.


  • Gany, F., Melnic, I., Ramirez, J., Wu, M., Li, Y., Paolantonio, L., Smith, J., Pan, S., Roberts-Eversley, N., Blinder, V. and Leng, J., 2020. Food Insecurity among Cancer Patients Enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nutrition and Cancer, pp.1-9.

This study is a cross-sectional analysis of patient intake data of underserved cancer patients in NYC, examining associations of food insecurity and SNAP participation to explore the need for supplemental programs for patients with chronic diseases in clinics with large low-income populations.


  • Russell-Fritch, J., Cohen, D.A., Caldwell, J. and Kuo, T., 2020. Simulating the Impact of Health Behavior Interventions in the SNAP-Ed Population. Preventive Medicine Reports, p.101257.

This study uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and SNAP-Ed administrative data from Los Angeles County to model over 10 years the impact of SNAP-Ed BMI and exercise interventions on future health outcomes, including prevalence of activities with daily living, diabetes, and heart disease.


  • Katare, B., Lynch, K. and Savaiano, D., 2020. Perceived neighbourhood food environment and overweight and obesity among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) participants in the Midwest US. Public Health Nutrition, pp.1-9.

This cross-sectional study of SNAP-Ed participants in the Midwest explored associations between perceptions of fruit, vegetable, and broader food access and obesity with implications for nutrition education programs.


  • Rogus, S., Guthrie, J.F., Niculescu, M. and Mancino, L., 2020. Online grocery shopping knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among SNAP participants. Journal of nutrition education and behavior52(5), pp.539-545.

In light of recent SNAP expansion online, researchers conducted focus groups with SNAP participants’ experience with, desire for, and barriers to online grocery shopping.


  • Gundersen, C., 2020. Expand SNAP to Reduce Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in the United States. The Journal of Nutrition150(1), pp.6-7.

The author reviews 5 proposed changes to SNAP, 3 that would worsen food insecurity and 2 that would improve food insecurity, with implications for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease based on recent findings.


  • Cohen, N., Tomaino Fraser, K., Arnow, C., Mulcahy, M. and Hille, C., 2020. Online Grocery Shopping by NYC Public Housing Residents Using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefits: A Service Ecosystems Perspective. Sustainability12(11), p.4694.

The authors conducted a mixed-methods evaluation of an online grocery shopping pilot using SNAP benefits, including assessing any cost and time savings compared to traditional grocery shopping and obtaining participant program perceptions through surveys.


  • Leschewski, A. and Kuhns, A., 2020. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation and current restricted food expenditures: implications for policy. Public Health Nutrition, pp.1-8.

This study uses FoodAPS data to compare SNAP and income-eligible non-participant purchases of SNAP-restricted foods with implications for proposed additional SNAP restrictions, such as sugar-sweetened beverages.


  • Wielenga, V., Franzen-Castle, L., Toney, A. and Dingman, H., 2020. Nebraska Double Up Food Bucks Increases Purchases of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Among SNAP Users. Current Developments in Nutrition4(Supplement_2), pp.731-731.

This study is a mixed-method evaluation of a SNAP incentive program, using customer, vendor, and manager surveys, purchase and redemption records, and qualitative feedback to assess program growth and impact.


  • Ambrozek, Charlotte, and Timothy Beatty, “U.S. Nutrition Assistance Program Responses to COVID-19.“ ARE Update 23(5) (2020): 5–8. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.

    This brief report summarizes major changes to federal nutrition assistance programs, implemented quickly in response to COVID-19: temporary SNAP benefit increases, expansion of online ordering, the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program (providing SNAP-like benefits to households that had been participating in federal school meals programs), and changes to emergency food distribution through food banks. The report discusses further possible policy responses. Ambrozek is a Ph.D. student and Beatty is a professor (and 2017 RIDGE grantee) at the University of California Davis.


  • Schanzenbach, D.W. and A. Pitts. 13 May 2020. “Estimates of Food Insecurity During the COVID-19 Crisis: Results from the COVID Impact Survey, Week 1 (April 20–26, 2020).” Northwestern Institute for Policy Research.

    The COVID Impact Survey for April 20-26 finds that household food insecurity prevalence has doubled overall and tripled in households with children, compared to official measures for previous years.


  • Mande J, Willett W, Auerbach J, Bleich S, Broad Leib E, Economos C, Griffin T, Grumbly T, Hu F, Koh H, Mozaffarian D, Pérez-Escamilla R, Seligman H, Story M, Wilde P, and Woteki C. Report of the 50th Anniversary of the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health: Honoring the Past, Taking Actions for our Future. Boston, MA; March 2020.

    This report makes eleven broad policy recommendations, including three focusing on federal nutrition programs. These recommendations include: 1) improving school and childcare setting nutrition and equity through CACFP, NSLP, and SBP by restoring nutrition standards, restricting marketing, and incentivizing healthy and delicious food offerings, 2) strengthening SNAP by increasing access, prioritizing diet quality, and implementing innovative pilots, and 3) improving WIC by supporting breastfeeding, increasing whole fruits and vegetables, and extending eligibility.


  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. A Consumer Food Data System for 2030 and Beyond. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

    This report provides a blueprint for ERS's Food Economics Division for its data strategy over the next decade, exploring the quality of data collected, the data collection process, and the kinds of data that may be most valuable to researchers, policy makers, and program administrators going forward. Recommendations include further use of administrative and commercial data sources, continuation of FoodAPS, and increasing data access for publicly funded programs.


  • Ismail, M.S., Ver Ploeg, M., Chomitz, V.R. and Wilde, P., 2020. Differences in Food-at-Home Spending for SNAP and Non-SNAP Households Given Geographic Price Variation. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

    This study measures SNAP/non-SNAP differences in food spending, overall and for consumers with different income levels and living in different geographical regions with different price levels.


  • Brace AM, Moore TW, Matthews TL. The Relationship Between Food Deserts, Farmers' Markets, and Food Assistance Programs in Hawai'i Census Tracts. Hawaii J Health Soc Welf. 2020 Feb 1;79(2):36-41. PMID: 32043088; PMCID: PMC7007308.

    This study uses USDA Food Access Research Atlas and Farmers’ Market Directory data to assess farmers’ markets’ roles in addressing food insecurity in Hawaii, finding most farmers’ markets are not located in food deserts and few participate in nutrition assistance programs. 


Child Nutrition

  • Bauer, K.W., Chriqui, J.F., Andreyeva, T., Kenney, E.L., Stage, V.C., Dev, D., Lessard, L., Cotwright, C.J. and Tovar, A., 2021. A Safety Net Unraveling: Feeding Young Children During COVID-19. American Journal of Public Health, 111(1), pp.116-120.

This paper examines the impact of COVID-19 on capacity of early child-care and education programs, including the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and makes policy recommendations for greater investment in CACFP for the duration of COVID-19 and beyond.


  • Dunn, C.G., Kenney, E., Fleischhacker, S.E. and Bleich, S.N., 2020. Feeding low-income children during the Covid-19 pandemic. New England Journal of Medicine382(18), p.e40.

This article provides an overview the impact of COVID-19 on school nutrition programs and outlines preliminary approaches to address food insecurity in children during the pandemic, including improved information distribution, safer and less burdensome meal delivery options, expansion to Child and Adult Care Food Program, and examining policies that deter participation in the nutrition safety net.


  • Poole, M.K., Cradock, A.L. and Kenney, E.L., 2020. Changes in Foods Served and Meal Costs in Boston Family Child Care Homes after One Year of Implementing the New Child and Adult Care Food Program Nutrition Standards. Nutrients12(9), p.2817.

Authors, including 2017 RIDGE grantee Kenney, analyzed menus and food receipts from 13 family child care homes to assess changes to foods and beverages served and meal costs pre and post 2017 revisions to the Child and Adult Care Food Program.


Rothbart, a 2017 RIDGE grantee, and co-authors exploit the variation in Community Eligibility Provision rollout across New York state to assess its impact on student obesity and school district finances.


  • Hecht, A.A., Pollack Porter, K.M. and Turner, L., 2020. Impact of the Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act on student nutrition, behavior, and academic outcomes: 2011–2019. American Journal of Public Health110(9),

This literature review on the Community Eligibility Provision provides an overview of the current evidence including positive impacts on nutrition, behavior, and academic; mixed evidence on test scores and attendance; and limited but promising evidence on weight outcomes, on-time grade promotion, and food security.


  • Chaparro, M., Whaley, S., Anderson, C., Wang, M., and Crespi, C. (2020). The role of income and neighborhood poverty in the association between the 2009 WIC food package change and child obesity among WIC-participating children in Los Angeles County, 2003-2016. Public Health Nutrition, 1-17. 

Chaparro, a 2019 RIDGE grantee, and colleagues used WIC administrative data to explore associations between the WIC food package change and reduced child obesity risk across levels of family income and neighborhood poverty.


  • Cohen, J.F., Richardson, S., Roberto, C.A. and Rimm, E.B., 2020. Availability of Lower-Sodium School Lunches and the Association with Selection and Consumption among Elementary and Middle School Students. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 121(1), pp.105-111.

Rimm, a 2017 RIDGE grantee, and colleagues used plate waste methodology to assess the availability, consumption, and compliance of school lunches with Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act sodium target levels and associations with sodium and sugar.


  • Cohen JW, Schwartz MB, Leider J, Turner L, Chriqui JF. Meal Quality of Entrées That Can Be Sold as Competitive Foods in Schools and Potential Impact of the Proposed USDA Rollbacks. Nutrients. 2020 Sep 30;12(10):3003.

In light of proposed Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act rollbacks that would increase availability of competitive foods exempt from Smart Snack standards, this study compares Healthy Eating Index scores of competitive entrees and full reimbursable school meals using data from the School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study.


This study uses Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction administrative records to examine Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) impact on attendance, comparing CEP and non-CEP schools pre- and post-implementation.


  • Zaltz DA, Hecht AA, Pate RR, Neelon B, O’Neill JR, Benjamin-Neelon SE. Participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program is associated with fewer barriers to serving healthier foods in early care and education. BMC Public Health. 2020 Jun 5;20(1):856.

This study conducted a cross-sectional survey of a random sample child care directors across 4 states to assess barriers to serving healthy food in the early care and education setting and associations with Child and Adult Care Feeding Program participation.


  • Schauder, S., Thomsen, M.R. and Nayga Jr, R.M., 2020. Agent-based modeling insights into the optimal distribution of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Preventive Medicine Reports20, p.101173.

    Thomsen, a 2019 RIDGE grantee, and co-authors used an agent-based model of preference formation to understand how exposure to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in early elementary school may affect preferences for healthy food by 6th grade.


  • Patel, K.J., Strait, K.M., Hildebrand, D.A., Amaya, L.L. and Joyce, J.M., 2020. Variability in dietary quality of elementary school lunch menus with changes in national school lunch program nutrition standards. Current developments in nutrition4(9),

The authors used cross-sectional content analysis to determine differences among 4 experimental menus created with the application of different NSLP nutrition standards, School Meal Initiative, Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, Child Nutrition Program Flexibilities, compare Healthy Eating Index scores.


Zhao, a 2017 RIDGE grantee, and colleagues analyzed the WIC regulation change process through the lens of Knowledge Translation, assessing the exchange, synthesis, and application of knowledge through semi-structured interviews with key informants from WIC state agencies.


  • Valizadeh, P. and Ng, S. W. 2020. The New School Food Standards and Nutrition of School Children: Direct and Indirect Effect Analysis. Economics & Human Biology, 39, 100918.

Authors, including 2019 RIDGE grantee Pourya Valizadeh, use dietary intake data from the 2009–2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to examine the impacts of Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act’s new nutrition standards on the overall calorie intake and children’s dietary quality and their variation across food acquisition sources (school vs. away-from-school). 


  • Fleischhacker, S. and Campbell, E., 2020. Ensuring Equitable Access to School Meals. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics120(5), pp.893-897.

    Authors provide an overview of increasing prevalence of school meal debt, associated increases in lunch shaming, and propose expanding universal school meal program and the Community Eligibility Provision as solutions.


  • Dunn, C.G., Kenney, E., Fleischhacker, S.E. and Bleich, S.N., 2020. Feeding low-income children during the Covid-19 pandemic. New England Journal of Medicine382(18), p.e40.

    Authors, including 2017 RIDGE grantee Erica Kenney, summarize the heightened risks of food insecurity amongst children during COVID-19 and early federal government response followed by specific policy recommendations, including extension of emergency benefits to CACFP, collective dissemination of changes to school meals, and increased, safe access to safety net programs.


  • Schwartz, A.E. and Rothbart, M.W., 2020. Let them eat lunch: The impact of universal free meals on student performance. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 39(2), pp.376-410.

    Using linked administrative and testing data, this study from 2017 RIDGE grantees finds that universal school meals provision improves school outcomes.


  • Gearan, E.C. and Fox, M.K., 2020. Updated nutrition standards have significantly improved the nutritional quality of school lunches and breakfasts. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

    This study uses school menu data from the School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study and School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study to assess the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 on NSLP and SBP nutrition standards, finding significant increases in HEI scores for both programs.


  • Turner, L., Leider, J., Piekarz-Porter, E. and Chriqui, J.F., 2020. Association of State Laws Regarding Snacks in US Schools With Students' Consumption of Solid Fats and Added Sugars. JAMA network open3(1), pp.e1918436-e1918436.

    This study uses School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study data to determine that students in states requiring implementation of Smart Snacks in School standards consumed significantly less calories from solid fats and added sugars.



Additional Research