Is Individually-Targeted Food Assistance Shared among Family Members?


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the School Breakfast Program (SBP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) share a common goal of helping people with limited financial means obtain better diets than they could otherwise afford, but the programs differ in terms of the groups that they target and the types of assistance they provide. While the programs appear to increase food consumption among households generally and among their intended beneficiaries, we know much less about whether they help other people. This investigation uses 2002-2003 data from the second Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the relationship between households’ participation in the SNAP, SBP, NLSP, and WIC and individual 10 - 17 year-old children’s consumption of particular food items. Our analyses indicate that WIC participation by others in the household is associated with a 22 percent increase in breakfast consumption of milk and a 16 percent increase in breakfast consumption of cereal for the children in our sample, while WIC is associated with a 13 percent decrease in toast consumption. Participation in school meals is also associated with increased consumption of some foods, particularly juice, fruit, and sweet snacks. Household SNAP participation is estimated to have positive associations with some foods but negative associations with others.

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J. Woodward and D. Ribar, "Is Individually-Targeted Food Assistance Shared among Family Members?," Food and Nutrition Sciences, Vol. 3 No. 6, 2012, pp. 747-759. doi: 10.4236/fns.2012.36101.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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