WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Deputy Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner today announced $1.8 million in grant and cooperative agreement awards in eight states and the District of Columbia to examine and evaluate food assistance programs administered by the USDA.

"Over the course of a year, USDA's food assistance and nutrition programs directly touch the lives of one in five Americans by providing children and low-income families access to nutritional food," said Conner. "This research will help ensure access to healthy diets for all Americans."

The goal of the research is to examine, evaluate, and enhance USDA's food and nutrition assistance programs, drawing upon the expertise of external researchers. The grants and cooperative agreements will fund projects in the District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusettes, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin.

The projects will examine a number of program-related issues, including:

  • effect of prenatal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) participation on maternal behavior, health, and birth outcomes;

  • effects of participation in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program on students' dietary behavior, weight, and body mass index (BMI);

  • economic survival strategies of low-income families, including under what circumstances these families use the Food Stamp Program;

  • effects of potential changes to state and federal asset eligibility policies for the Food Stamp Program;

  • comparison of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) with the Food Stamp Program with regard to eligibility, participation, administration, and possible effects on health and nutrition;

  • relationships of certification error rates in the Food Stamp Program to state program policies, caseload characteristics, economic conditions, and expenditures on certification-related activities;

  • relationships between local food environment, household food insecurity, and obesity;

  • determinants of participation in the School Breakfast Program and the benefits of the program on children.

  • All of the research projects are competitively awarded by the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, administered by USDA's Economic Research Service. FANRP studies and evaluates the performance of, and issues related to, the Food Stamp Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; and Child Nutrition Programs.

    The following is a complete list of award recipients is online.

    SOURCE: USDA news release.