Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel: Understanding the Effects of Food Assistance Programs and the Food Environment on Food Spending, Food Security, and Diet Using the National Household Food Assistance Acquisition and Purchase Survey
(Poverty and Income Policy)

Saturday, November 14, 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Brickell North (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Michele Ver Ploeg, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Panel Chairs:  Michele Ver Ploeg, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Discussants:  Brynne Keith-Jennings, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and Garret Christensen, Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences

Predicting the Effects of Restricting Purchases of Sugary Drinks and Low-Nutrition Foods with SNAP Benefits on the Food Choices of Children and Their Families
Chen Zhen1, Biing-Hwan Lin2, Lisa Mancino2 and Michele Ver Ploeg2, (1)RTI International, Inc., (2)U.S. Department of Agriculture

Variation in Food Prices and SNAP Adequacy for Purchasing the Thrifty Food Plan
Garret Christensen, Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences and Erin Todd Bronchetti, Swarthmore College

The Spatial Context of Food Shopping: Understanding How Local Food Retailer Access and Pricing Affect Household Behavior
Scott Allard, University of Washington and Patricia Ruggles, University of Chicago

The National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) is the first nationally representative survey of American households to collect data about household food purchases and acquisitions from all sources, both for at-home and away-from-home consumption, for all people in the household and for a representative sample of participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and nonparticipant low-income households. The survey also collected extensive information about household non-food expenditures, food security, access to food retailers, health status, and diet and nutrition knowledge. This major data collection and research undertaking was jointly sponsored by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). FoodAPS is a key source of data for evaluating important policy issues related to food consumption, SNAP, and diet quality. This session highlights four papers that use FoodAPS to address the following key policy issues. The first paper addresses a policy question about whether issuing SNAP benefits at more frequent intervals instead of monthly can force smoother food purchase and consumption patterns. The paper uses variation in when SNAP participants in the survey last received their monthly allotment to examine food spending and acquisition patterns. The second paper addresses an important question about the adequacy of SNAP benefits for providing households with enough resources for a healthy diet. While the nominal value of SNAP benefits is fixed across states (except for Hawaii and Alaska), variation in food prices across geographic areas is dramatic. This paper uses FoodAPS Geography Component data on the cost of food in respondents’ neighborhoods to estimate the percentage of SNAP recipients and SNAP-eligible households for whom the SNAP benefit level is sufficient to purchase the Thrifty Food Plan. The third paper uses estimates from a food demand system model to simulate the effects of different SNAP policy provisions that have been suggested for improving participants’ diets. Policy provisions examined include restricting which foods can be purchased with SNAP, pricing interventions that subsidize healthy foods, or changing the SNAP benefit amount. Finally, the fourth paper uses the rich spatial data attached to FoodAPS survey respondents to examine how food store access and food pricing affect food shopping behavior and food security. Two discussants, one practitioner and one researcher, will provide insights on the importance of the work from a policy and research perspective. As a collection, the session will exemplify the range of policy questions that can be addressed with the new FoodAPS data.
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