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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.



  • 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. 


This article analyzes transaction-level scanner data to evaluate a SNAP dollar-matching program for fruits and vegetables in a Michigan supermarket chain, finding an increase in weekly produce spending amongst SNAP customers post-implementation in intervention stores.


Child Nutrition

  • 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