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Can Food Stamps Do More To Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective

by Joanne Guthrie, Margaret Andrews, Elizabeth Frazão, Ephraim Leibtag, Biing-Hwan Lin, Lisa Mancino, Mark Nord, Mark Prell, David Smallwood, Jayachandran Variyam, and Michele Ver Ploeg

Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-29) September 2007

Cover image Food stamp recipients, like other Americans, struggle with nutrition problems associated with choice of foods, as well as amounts. This series of Economic Information Bulletins compiles evidence to help answer the question of whether the Food Stamp Program can do more to improve the food choices of participants. It examines the role of affordability and price of healthful foods in influencing food choices and the likely success of any policy targeted at changing food choices through food stamp bonuses or restrictions. It also examines other approaches to changing food choices, including nutrition education and potential strategies drawn from behavioral economics literature. Meaningful improvements in the diets of food stamp recipients will likely depend on a combination of many tactics. Measuring the effect of any policy change on food choices and health outcomes remains a challenge.

Keywords: Food Stamp Program, food consumption, food prices, food expenditures, nutrition education, behavioral economics, food choices, diet, health, fruits and vegetables, Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, FANRP

In this publication...

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Overview: Can Food Stamps Do More To Improve Food Choices? (EIB-29-1)

Stretching the Food Stamp Dollar: Regional Price Differences Affect Affordability of Food (EIB-29-2)

Higher Cost of Food in Some Areas May Affect Food Stamp Households’ Ability To Make Healthy Food Choices (EIB-29-3)

Food Spending Patterns of Low-Income Households: Will Increasing Purchasing Power Result in Healthier Food Choices? (EIB-29-4)

How Do Low-Income Households Respond to Food Prices? (EIB-29-5)

Nutrition Information: Can It Improve the Diets of Low-Income Households? (EIB-29-6)

Making Healthy Food Choices Easier: Ideas From Behavioral Economics (EIB-29-7)

How Can We Tell If We Are Making a Difference? ERS Efforts To Improve Evaluation of Nutrition Outcomes (EIB-29-8)

For more information, see:

See a related article from Amber Waves: Improving Food Choices—Can Food Stamps Do More?

Food Assistance and Nutrition Programs briefing room

Food Stamp Program briefing room

"Food Assistance: How Strong Is the Safety Net?" by Michael Le Blanc, Biing-Hwan Lin, and David Smallwood, in Amber Waves, Vol. 4, No. 4, USDA, Economic Research Service, September, 2006.

"Food Stamps and Obesity: Ironic Twist or Complex Puzzle?" by Michelle Ver Ploeg, Lisa Mancino, and Biing-Hwan Lin, in Amber Waves, Vol. 4, No. 1, USDA, Economic Research Service, February, 2006.

Last updated: Friday, August 02, 2013

For more information contact: Joanne Guthrie, Margaret Andrews, Elizabeth Frazão, Ephraim Leibtag, Biing-Hwan Lin, Lisa Mancino, Mark Nord, Mark Prell, David Smallwood, Jayachandran Variyam, and Michele Ver Ploeg

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