Nutrition Assistance Research

This page offers links and background on federal nutrition assistance programs and the related research literature. The 2023 edition of USDA’s annually updated report on the Food and Nutrition Assistance Landscape (Toossi and Jones, 2023) provides a broad overview:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers 15 domestic food and nutrition assistance programs that affect the lives of millions of people and account for roughly two-thirds of USDA’s annual budget. In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, USDA launched additional temporary programs and implemented numerous policy changes that expanded the scope and coverage of existing programs. Together, these programs contributed to $183 billion in spending on food and nutrition assistance programs in fiscal year (FY) 2022 (October 1, 2021–September 30, 2022). This report uses preliminary data from USDA, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to examine program trends and policy changes in USDA’s largest U.S. food and nutrition assistance programs through FY 2022. It also summarizes a recent USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) report examining the prevalence of household food insecurity in the United States in 2021 and another USDA, ERS report examining changes in food choices in the USDA Foods program.

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has a general page on federal nutrition assistance programs and more specific pages on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and federal child nutrition programs. ERS also provides a searchable database of past USDA-authored or USDA-supported research studies.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the programs at the national level and administers the programs in partnership with states and local agencies. FNS provides a wealth of research and analysis on the programs, including report series on SNAP, WIC, and the child nutrition programs. FNS also provides annual and monthly program data at the national and state level.