Stay Connected

Follow ERS on Twitter
Subscribe to RSS feeds
Subscribe to ERS e-Newsletters.aspx
Listen to ERS podcasts
Read ERS blogs at USDA
Image: Food Nutrition & Assistance

Extramural Research

Related Reports

ERS encourages new and innovative research through joint projects between ERS staff and outside researchers. The ERS extramural research program component uses two main mechanisms to promote food and nutrition assistance research from a broad arena:

Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program

ERS awards grants and cooperative agreements to support extramural research that focuses on USDA's domestic food and nutrition assistance programs. Research is targeted to meet critical information needs of the Administration, Congress, program managers, policy officials, clients, the research community, and the general public. This program allows ERS to partner with innovative, creative, and forward-looking researchers.

  • Grants are awarded when the research project supports the research mission and does not require substantial involvement between ERS staff and the extramural researchers during the research period.
  • Cooperative agreements, awarded when the research project requires more substantial involvement between ERS and the extramural researchers, allow ERS staff to supplement their own expertise with the knowledge and resources of academic and private institutions.

ERS does not anticipate having funds available in fiscal 2012 for competitive grants and cooperative agreements that were previously funded through the Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program (FANRP).

Recent Awards and Previous Years' Awards

Fiscal 2011 Awards

ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Reseatch Program (FANRP)'s Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program made 10 awards in fiscal 2011 to fund research on relationships between food assistance programs, food choices, and the economy; and using behavioral economics and incentives to promote child nutrition. Behavioral economics research is part of an ongoing collaboration with USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) since fiscal 2010 to develop a research program in behavioral economics to study USDA's child nutrition programs.

Previous Years' Awards

Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Program (RIDGE)

The Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Program encourages new and innovative research on food and nutrition assistance issues and broadens the participation of social science scholars in such research. RIDGE is funded by ERS and administered in partnership with:

The RIDGE Centers oversee the application, peer review, award, and performance processes of the research grants provided through the RIDGE Program. Each center serves as a hub for mentoring and training researchers interested in food and nutrition assistance issues and provides a source of timely and accessible information on new research findings. For more information, see RIDGE at ERS 16x16 - PDF.

Partnership Institutions

For details about the RIDGE Centers and their annual research competitions, visit the institutions listed below:

  • The RIDGE Center for National Food and Nutrition Assistance Research at the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), University of Wisconsin-Madison, focuses on research related to food and nutrition assistance issues that affect the entire Nation. The IRP--one of three Area Poverty Research Centers--is a leader in poverty and policy research, with an extensive network of research and policy colleagues. An important component of IRP's work relates to determinants of food assistance program participation and the effects of participation on food security, obesity, and other outcomes.
  • The RIDGE Center for Targeted Food and Nutrition Assistance Research at the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC), Mississippi State University, supports food and nutrition assistance research directed at specific populations such as residents of rural areas, Native Americans, and immigrants. The RIDGE Center at SRDC, with an important regional focus in the South, has strong working relationships with other Regional Rural Development Centers. These strong relationships provide a platform for targeted studies in areas across the country that experience significant economic, social, and demographic challenges that may impact the nutritional health of their residents.

Annual Conference

ERS and the RIDGE Centers host the Food and Nutrition Assistance RIDGE Program Conference in the Fall of each year at which RIDGE researchers present findings of completed projects. This year’s RIDGE Conference will be held on Thursday, October 9, 2014, at the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), 1307 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. See the RIDGE Centers at IRP and SRDC for findings from research projects delivered at past conferences and abstracts of new studies slated for presentation at the 2014 conference.

Research Project Summaries

RIDGE, known as the Small Grants Program through 2006, has funded more than 260 projects at over 100 educational and research institutions during 1998-2013. In addition to projects funded by the current RIDGE Centers, many research projects were conducted through previous RIDGE partners at the American Indian Studies Program, University of Arizona; the Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago; the Joint Center for Poverty Research, University of Chicago and Northwestern University; and the Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis.

The RIDGE Program annually summarizes research findings of projects that were awarded grants through its partner institutions in a given year. The summaries are available in a searchable electronic database. To perform a customized search of all RIDGE project summaries by keyword(s), project, research center, investigator, or year, see:

RIDGE Projects and Summaries

Visit to find and apply for grants available across the Federal Government.

Return to Overview

Last updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2014

For more information contact: Victor Oliveira and Alex Majchrowicz

Share or Save this Page