April 2021: For many years, policy-makers have wondered if safety net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) might motivate low-income Americans to work less in the labor market. In new research, Dr. Jason Cook, a 2019 RIDGE grantee, and colleagues found little evidence that SNAP participants reduced their work effort in this way.
January 2021: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) effectively translated nutrition evidence into regulations during the 2009 WIC regulation change process at both the national and state level, based on recent findings from Dr. Naisi Zhao at Tufts University School of Medicine, using a a framework of Organizational Readiness for Knowledge Translation.
December 2020: The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 led to significant improvements in school food and ultimately better overall quality of children’s diets, based on recent findings from Dr. Pourya Valizadeh at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The increase in the diet quality of school foods more than compensated for the shift towards lower-quality diets at home.
October 2020: The 2020 RIDGE Conference, held virtually on October 14, featured new economic research aimed at enhancing food security and dietary quality for low-income Americans. Both new and established investigators who were 2019 RIDGE grantees presented on topics ranging from evaluating the impact of nutrition-driven changes in school meals to influences of labor policy on SNAP to nutrition assistance participation amongst populations of interests, including college students and multigenerational households. An agenda is listed below including links to session recordings. You can view all 2020 RIDGE conference recordings here.
11:00-11:15 Opening remarks
Jay Variyam, Director, Food Economics Division, ERS, USDA
Spiro Stefanou, Administrator, ERS, USDA
Melissa Abelev, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Policy Support, FNS, USDA
Parke Wilde, Tufts/UConn RIDGE Program Director
Moderator: Tatiana Andreyeva, Tufts/UConn RIDGE Program Associate Director
11:15-11:45 Did the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act help improve dietary quality among school-age children?
Pourya Valizadeh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
11:45-12:15 Breakfast in the classroom, body mass index, and academic outcomes.
Michael Thomsen, University of Arkansas
12:15-12:30 Session Break
Moderator: Sara John, Tufts University
12:30-1:00 SNAP and work-related policies: An in-depth analysis of low-wage worker perspectives and behaviors.
Caitlin Caspi, University of Minnesota
1:00-1:30 Labor supply distortions from nutrition assistance programs: Evidence from a bunching estimator
Jason Cook, University of Pittsburgh
1:30-1:45 Session Break
Moderator Leslie Hodges, Economic Research Service, USDA
1:45-2:15 Understanding barriers to SNAP enrollment among college students.
Maggie Dickinson, CUNY Guttman
2:15-2:45 SNAP, school meals, and the food security of multigenerational households
Agustina Laurito, University of Illinois at Chicago
2:45-3:00 Session Break
Moderator: Courtney Paolicelli, Food Nutrition Service, USDA
3:00-3:30 Food insecurity and child food consumption patterns among WIC participating families in Los Angeles County
Pia Chaparro, Tulane University
3:30-4:00 Does maternal depression caused by food insufficiency influence parenting practices and impact infant wellbeing?
Irma Arteaga, University of Missouri
4:00-4:15 Closing Remarks and Adjournment
Parke Wilde, Tufts/UConn RIDGE Program Director
Christian Gregory, Chief, Food Assistance Branch, Economic Research Service, USDA
4:15-4:45 Virtual networking/social time
April 2020: The updated nutrition standards of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) can improve children’s diets in family child care settings based on recent findings from Dr. Erica Kenney at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Providers still will need additional training and technical assistance to improve children’s nutrition.
January 2020: Monthly issuance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits results in higher SNAP spending earlier in the benefit month across all food categories, and popular support exists for policy changes that could affect these spending patterns, based on new findings from Rebecca Franckle and Eric Rimm at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.
December 2019: Universal Free Meals helps improve educational outcomes for middle school students in New York City, according to new research by Michah W. Rothbart and Amy Ellen Schwartz of the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.
Providing all students breakfast and lunch at no cost, or Universal Free Meals (UFM), eliminates the financial barrier to student participation in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Increased school meal participation has the potential to benefit students through improved healthier food access and school districts through streamlined administration and increased revenue. Michah W. Rothbart, a 2017 grantee of the Tufts/UConn RIDGE Program, leverages city and state administrative data to uncover the impact of UFM on both students and districts in New York.
June 3, 2019: With support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the University of Connecticut focuses on economic research aimed at enhancing food security and dietary quality for low-income Americans through the nation’s nutrition assistance programs. For the 2019 round, the program announces eight research grant awards, reflecting a wide range of nutrition assistance program topics.
December 6, 2018: The Tufts/UConn RIDGE Program announced a new round of funding on November 28, 2018. The request for proposals (RFP) for a new 2019 round of RIDGE seeks to support innovative economic research on domestic nutrition assistance programs and to broaden the network of researchers applying their expertise to USDA topics. The RIDGE Program seeks applications from a diverse community of experienced nutrition assistance researchers, early career scholars, and established researchers who bring expertise in another research area.
September 12, 2018: The RIDGE Conference will be held on October 11, 2018 at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) in Washington, DC. The conference will provide a forum for 2017 RIDGE grantees and attendees to discuss results of recently funded grants on topics that include food assistance program participation, food insecurity among vulnerable populations, and community influence on food assistance and dietary choices. Sessions, participants, and presentation topics are available in the preliminary agenda.
Conference attendance is free, but advanced registration is required. For more details and conference registration, please visit the USDA ERS webpage.
The request for proposals (RFP) for a new 2019 round of RIDGE grants is scheduled for release in late November 2018.
July 19, 2017: With support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the University of Connecticut focuses on economic research aimed at enhancing food security and dietary quality for low-income Americans through the nation’s nutrition assistance programs. For the 2017 cycle, the program announces nine research grant awards, reflecting a wide range of nutrition assistance program topics.
October 26, 2016: A new center at Tufts University and the University of Connecticut will focus on economic research aimed at enhancing food security and dietary quality for low-income Americans through the nation's nutrition assistance programs. The research center brings together the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts and the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, two institutions with long records of research leadership in this area.