Research funding available for 2023
December 2022: the RIDGE Partnership released a request for grant proposals on December 1, with proposals due January 30, 2023. Grants will be awarded up to a maximum of $75,000 and 18 months in duration. Webinars for applicants will be held on December 9th and January 9th.
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.
- In 2023, we funded eight projects.
- In 2019, we funded eight projects.
- In 2017, we funded nine projects.
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.
RIDGE Program Spotlight: Research with administrative data in Colorado and Oregon shows little evidence that SNAP distorts work decisions
April 2021: For many years, policy-makers have wondered if safety net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) might motivate low-income Americans to work less in the labor market. In new research, Dr. Jason Cook, a 2019 RIDGE grantee, and colleagues found little evidence that SNAP participants reduced their work effort in this way.
RIDGE Program Spotlight: Knowledge transaction and WIC food package regulation change
January 2021: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) effectively translated nutrition evidence into regulations during the 2009 WIC regulation change process at both the national and state level, based on recent findings from Dr. Naisi Zhao at Tufts University School of Medicine, using a a framework of Organizational Readiness for Knowledge Translation.
RIDGE Program Spotlight: Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act improves school-aged children dietary quality
December 2020: The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 led to significant improvements in school food and ultimately better overall quality of children’s diets, based on recent findings from Dr. Pourya Valizadeh at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The increase in the diet quality of school foods more than compensated for the shift towards lower-quality diets at home.
2020 RIDGE Conference on Economics and Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs
October 2020: The 2020 RIDGE Conference, held virtually on October 14, featured new economic research aimed at enhancing food security and dietary quality for low-income Americans. Both new and established investigators who were 2019 RIDGE grantees presented on topics ranging from evaluating the impact of nutrition-driven changes in school meals to influences of labor policy on SNAP to nutrition assistance participation amongst populations of interests, including college students and multigenerational households. An agenda is listed below including links to session recordings. You can view all 2020 RIDGE conference recordings here.
RIDGE Program Spotlight: The Impact of Changes to CACFP on Food Spending and Young Children’s Dietary Intake in Urban Family Child Care Homes
April 2020: The updated nutrition standards of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) can improve children’s diets in family child care settings based on recent findings from Dr. Erica Kenney at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Providers still will need additional training and technical assistance to improve children’s nutrition.
RIDGE Program Spotlight: Public Support and Evidence for More Frequent SNAP Benefit Distribution
January 2020: Monthly issuance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits results in higher SNAP spending earlier in the benefit month across all food categories, and popular support exists for policy changes that could affect these spending patterns, based on new findings from Rebecca Franckle and Eric Rimm at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.
RIDGE Program Spotlight: Universal Free Meals (UFM) raises student test scores in New York
December 2019: Universal Free Meals helps improve educational outcomes for middle school students in New York City, according to new research by Michah W. Rothbart and Amy Ellen Schwartz of the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.
Providing all students breakfast and lunch at no cost, or Universal Free Meals (UFM), eliminates the financial barrier to student participation in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Increased school meal participation has the potential to benefit students through improved healthier food access and school districts through streamlined administration and increased revenue. Michah W. Rothbart, a 2017 grantee of the Tufts/UConn RIDGE Program, leverages city and state administrative data to uncover the impact of UFM on both students and districts in New York.
Eight New Research Grants to Enhance Food Security and Dietary Quality in Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs
June 3, 2019: With support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the University of Connecticut focuses on economic research aimed at enhancing food security and dietary quality for low-income Americans through the nation’s nutrition assistance programs. For the 2019 round, the program announces eight research grant awards, reflecting a wide range of nutrition assistance program topics.
New Round of RIDGE Funding Announced
December 6, 2018: The Tufts/UConn RIDGE Program announced a new round of funding on November 28, 2018. The request for proposals (RFP) for a new 2019 round of RIDGE seeks to support innovative economic research on domestic nutrition assistance programs and to broaden the network of researchers applying their expertise to USDA topics. The RIDGE Program seeks applications from a diverse community of experienced nutrition assistance researchers, early career scholars, and established researchers who bring expertise in another research area.
2018 Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Conference October 11 in Washington, DC
September 12, 2018: The RIDGE Conference will be held on October 11, 2018 at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) in Washington, DC. The conference will provide a forum for 2017 RIDGE grantees and attendees to discuss results of recently funded grants on topics that include food assistance program participation, food insecurity among vulnerable populations, and community influence on food assistance and dietary choices. Sessions, participants, and presentation topics are available in the preliminary agenda.
Conference attendance is free, but advanced registration is required. For more details and conference registration, please visit the USDA ERS webpage.
The request for proposals (RFP) for a new 2019 round of RIDGE grants is scheduled for release in late November 2018.
Nine New Research Grants to Enhance Food Security and Dietary Quality in Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs
July 19, 2017: With support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the University of Connecticut focuses on economic research aimed at enhancing food security and dietary quality for low-income Americans through the nation’s nutrition assistance programs. For the 2017 cycle, the program announces nine research grant awards, reflecting a wide range of nutrition assistance program topics.
Center for Nutrition Assistance Research To Enhance Food Security and Dietary Quality
October 26, 2016: A new center at Tufts University and the University of Connecticut will focus on economic research aimed at enhancing food security and dietary quality for low-income Americans through the nation’s nutrition assistance programs. The research center brings together the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts and the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, two institutions with long records of research leadership in this area.