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Presentation on theme: " The Farm Bill, Title 5 – Nutrition Re-Authorizes Food Stamp Program Entitlement program for low-income."— Presentation transcript:


2 The Farm Bill, Title 5 – Nutrition Re-Authorizes Food Stamp Program Entitlement program for low-income households provides food purchasing benefits via Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards In FY2006, served 26.7 million people at a cost of $32.8 billion

3 Food Stamp Program (FSP) The Name May Change—What About the Program Itself? Reduce hunger Improve nutrition Program goals

4 Food Stamp Program Improving Incomes, Increasing Food Spending But What About Nutrition? Obesity rates among FSP participants are high Fruit and vegetable intakes average less than 2 cups/day, compared to recommendation of at least 3.5 cups/day for typical adults

5 How Can the Food Stamp Program Promote Healthier Diets? Increases food purchasing power of almost 1 in 12 Americans Provides nutrition education

6 Potential Changes in the Food Stamp Program Increase FSP benefits across the board Provide targeted bonuses or incentives for purchasing healthy foods Ban “bad foods” from purchase with FSP benefits Expand and improve Food Stamp Nutrition Education

7 Food Stamp Program: Potential Changes Untargeted increases in FSP benefits essentially act to increase income How will income be spent—more fruits and vegetables? Or something else? Increasing Benefit Amounts

8 Increasing FSP Benefit Amounts Unlikely to Have Much Effect on Fruit and Vegetable Expenditures

9 Food Stamp Program: Potential Changes FSP participants eat only about half of the minimum recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables targeting benefits through bonuses or coupons for “encouraged” foods such as fruits and vegetables Acts to lower the price of the targeted food Bonus for Healthy Food Purchases

10 A Targeted Bonus Could Increase Spending on Fruits and Vegetables ERS research indicates that a 10-percent discount in the price of fruits and vegetables would increase the amount purchased by 6-7 percent.

11 Estimated Impact of Bonus on Consumption

12 Market Response Could Increase Effectiveness

13 If Consumer Demand Creates An Incentive

14 Food Stamp Program: Potential Changes State of Minnesota proposed not allowing purchase of soft drinks and candy with Food Stamp benefits Restricting Food Choices

15 Will Restricting Food Stamp Purchases Ensure that FSP Participants Cannot Purchase “Banned” Items? In Most Cases No…… Most FSP participants also spend some of their own money on food—they could just shift what they purchased with FSP benefits vs. cash. Example: The average low-income family of 4 has an average FSP benefit of $326, and spends $462 per month on food, $43 dollars of it on sugars, sweets, and beverages

16 If Banned Foods Were Successfully Eliminated, Would Consumers Choose The Intended Alternatives? They May But…… They may buy products that, although not restricted, are essentially similar to banned items. No! Yes?

17 Market Incentives Could Produce New Alternatives Ultimately consumer preference still matters

18 Food Stamp Nutrition Education A Rapidly Growing Part of the Program

19 Creating Effective Public Nutrition Education Programs Is Challenging

20 Food Stamp Program Can Behavioral Economics and Consumer Psychology Suggest Improvements? FSP technology, such as EBT cards, may offer flexibility to help FSP participants manage the conflict between short-term preferences and long-term goals.

21 How Could This Benefit Participants ? Examples: FSP participants could opt to receive benefits biweekly, rather than monthly. Or elect to have some of their benefits earmarked for buying fruits and vegetables—helping them to stick to good intentions. Allowing participants to opt for the allocation that suits them would be optimal--benefiting some without penalizing others. The costs and benefits of such flexibility require further research.

22 How Can We Know If Proposed Changes Make a Difference? Pilots, if well evaluated, can provide more information ERS working to improve data, measures for improved future evaluations

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