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News Release

Release No. 0495.10
USDA Office of Communications (202)720-4623

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USDA Awards $1.5 million to Improve Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs

WASHINGTON, September 30, 2010—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced eight new grant and cooperative agreement awards to improve and enhance USDA's food and nutrition assistance programs, which reach one in four Americans every year.

"Participation in USDA's food assistance programs is at an all-time high, and we need sound research to make sure that these programs operate effectively and efficiently," Vilsack explained. "The awards we are announcing today include innovative projects that focus on 'weekend hunger' among school children, and on the issue of families' access and proximity to retail food outlets."

USDA's food and nutrition assistance programs—including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP—formerly the Food Stamp Program), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the school meals programs—affect the lives of millions of people each day.

The goal of the research is to examine, evaluate, and enhance USDA's food and nutrition assistance programs. The research awards, totaling $1.5 million, will fund projects that examine a number of program-related issues, as follows:

  • Cornell University, Ithaca, NY—$125,000 to study the prevalence of "weekend hunger" among school age children when school meal programs are unavailable;
  • Simmons College, Boston, MA —$200,000 to study how length of time participating in WIC affects changes in household food security status for different race/ethnic groups;
  • Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA—$225,000 to examine the role of school meals and SNAP in altering the dynamics of child weight gain and obesity from birth through eighth grade.
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI—$140,000 to examine the effects of participation in the two largest food assistance programs—SNAP and the National School Lunch Program—on the well-being of children in low-income families that experience adverse economic shocks such as job loss, divorce, or separation.
  • Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, NJ—$180,000 to study the relationship between the food security of children of immigrants and their participation in SNAP;
  • Yale University, New Haven, CT—$265,000 to assess the impact of the newly implemented WIC food package revisions on participants' purchases of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lower fat milk;
  • Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA— $185,000 to examine how local economic conditions affect participation in food assistance programs and food insecurity among low-income households with children;
  • Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, NJ—$180,000 to study the relationship between household food security and access to both retail food stores and emergency food outlets.

The research projects are competitively awarded by USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS). For further information contact Vic Oliveira at (202) 694-5434; email:


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