With support from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) extramural research program is administered by a partnership of Tufts University, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Missouri. In addition to the 2023 awards, this extramural small grants program supported two rounds of awards in 2017 and 2019. 

To address national objectives for improved food security and dietary quality, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) supported useful extramural research in economics aimed at understanding and enhancing the nation’s nutrition assistance programs. The 2017 and 2019 rounds of RIDGE:

  • oversaw research grants on both major and smaller nutrition assistance programs,
  • supported a broad community of researchers applying their expertise to nutrition assistance topics,
  • mentored new investigators in nutrition assistance research,
  • promoted the relevance of extramural research for nutrition assistance policy, and
  • sought to enhance communication of results through appropriate technology innovations.

Some features included using an online platform to manage the grant submission and review process, a videoconferencing option for an interim grantee meeting, incorporating short video presentations into the design of grant deliverables, a mixed in-person/remote design for the RIDGE Outcomes Conference in Washington, DC, and web-based dissemination of results. A recording of the 2020 final RIDGE Research Conference is available on Vimeo. Check out the announcements page to learn more about the conference and past grantees.The Tufts/UConn RIDGE Program built on our team’s detailed knowledge of U.S. nutrition assistance policy and a long-term career commitment to the field of nutrition assistance research. The project team included RIDGE Directors and a National Advisory Board.