Food Insecurity, Food Assistance Programs, and Child Well-Being
(Family and Child Policy)
Friday, November 13, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Merrick I (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Anna D. Johnson, Georgetown University
Panel Chairs: Anna D. Johnson, Georgetown University
Discussants: Joanna Michelle Carroll, Indiana University
Food insecurity, defined as lack of steady and dependable access to food for all household members, affects a substantial share of America’s children. Approximately one in five children lives in a family experiencing food insecurity. However, little extant research has investigated how food insecurity affects children’s short- and longer-term health and developmental trajectories, particularly among rapidly growing subgroups such as children from immigrant families. There is also a knowledge gap around how food policies and programs may ameliorate potentially harmful effects of food insecurity on child well-being. Addressing these questions is crucial to supporting the healthy development of all children in the U.S.
This symposium seeks to address these gaps in the literature by presenting four papers that examine food insecurity, food assistance programs, and children’s health and developmental outcomes. The first paper uses a sample of low-income children from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to estimate whether receipt of food assistance during childhood delays the onset of chronic health conditions; they find some evidence that it does. Using a novel dataset of administrative data from North Carolina, the second paper examines shorter-term effects of food assistance use on child development by linking the timing of food stamp (SNAP) benefit receipt to children’s achievement test scores. Results indicate a curvilinear relationship between recency of SNAP benefit transfer and students’ reading and math scores, with some heterogeneity by child race and gender. The third paper uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Kindergarten Cohort to assess patterns of child food insecurity among children of immigrants, finding that children of immigrants do face an increased risk for food insecurity. Here, participation in food assistance programming does not appear to reduce the high incidence of immigrant children’s food insecurity. The fourth paper digs deeper into patterns and predictors of food assistance program use and its relationship with childhood food insecurity, using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth Cohort. The authors’ execution of a latent class analysis illuminates distinct profiles of multiple food assistance program use; they will next link these profiles to patterns of food insecurity before examining correlates of both.
Given the breadth and depth of these papers, a lively question-and-answer session is expected, which will be made richer via discussant comments provided by Dr. Judi Bartfeld, Professor and Director of the IRP RIDGE Center for National Food and Nutrition Assistance Research at the University of Wisconsin.