2017 Research Grants

Does Universal Free School Meals Reduce Childhood Obesity?

PIMichah Rothbart, Maxwell School, Syracuse University

Multi-generational Effects of Prenatal and Early Life Access to SNAP

PIMarianne Page, University of California, Davis

Project description: There is substantial evidence that health and socioeconomic inequalities persist across generations. Poor children begin life with significant health disadvantages compared to non-poor children, and the gap widens as children age. Studies suggest that differences in early life environments may causally contribute to these disparities. At the same time, there is growing evidence that federal health and nutrition policies that improve the early childhood health environment positively affect individuals’ later well-being. In particular, studies find that childhood access to SNAP reduces health conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, and improves economic self-sufficiency. Literatures in economics and biology predict that the causal impacts of effective nutrition interventions should echo beyond the exposed generation, but little is known about either the extent of multi-generational linkages or the potential for public policy to alter them. This project will employ natural experiment methodologies to examine the effects of SNAP on later generations’ well-being. The analyses will provide the first evidence about whether and how nutrition policies affect health and economic outcomes across generations, along with important insights about how SNAP ameliorates the intergenerational consequences of inequality. They will also inform whether existing cost-benefit analyses underestimate the program’s true value.

Organizational Readiness for Knowledge Translation and WIC Participation

PI: Naisi Zhao, Tufts University School of Medicine

The Effects of Disability, SNAP Participation and Changes in Benefits on Food Insecurity

PISeungyeon Cho, Texas A&M University, Texas AgriLife Research

Does SNAP Encourage Claiming Disability Insurance Benefits?

PIEmmanuel Drabo, Stanford University

Project description: The objective of this study is to understand the potential effects of participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and work requirements on applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. We hypothesize that SNAP discourages SSDI applications among workers with disabilities through its work requirement rule for the able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs). However, SNAP may also encourage SSDI application because a significant number of people with disabilities are still considered ABAWD by USDA definitions, and may seek SSDI more actively given the SNAP work rule and the high risk of this population becoming temporarily unemployed. We will make use of the Census Bureau’s SIPP Synthetic Beta data and novel causal inference techniques (instrumental variables and causal forest modeling) to estimate the causal effects of SNAP participation and work requirements on SSDI applications. We anticipate that our findings will help identify the features of the SNAP program (if any) that discourages or encourages SSDI application, help identify SNAP participants who are likely to apply and participate early in SSDI, and help to objectively assess the potential effects of SNAP eligibility rules on households’ employment decisions, as well as their decisions to participate in other safety net programs.

Food Choices of SNAP/WIC Participants at Convenience Stores and Supermarkets

PIGrace Melo, University of Georgia

Is Food Assistance Like Cash for Retailers?

PIMarianne Bitler, University of California, Davis

The Impact of the Monthly SNAP Issuance Cycle on Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Purchasing and Implications for Policy Change

PIEric Rimm, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Understanding the Impact of Changes to the Child and Adult Care Food Program on Food Expenditures, Food Quality, and Young Children’s Dietary Intake in Urban Family Child Care Homes

PIErica Kenney, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health