Overview of the Ridge Center for Targeted Studies

Welcome to the Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Center for Targeted Studies web site. The USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) selected the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC) at Mississippi State University to serve as the RIDGE Center for Targeted Studies in 2010.

What is the RIDGE Center's Purpose?

The primary goal of the RIDGE Center for Targeted Studies is to invest in innovative social sciences-based research that explores the food and nutrition assistance challenges facing Native Americans, immigrants and other key populations in rural America.

The Center's Research Priorities

The RIDGE Center is interested in basic, applied, policy, and evaluation-related research that aligns with one or more of these priority topics:

  • Child Nutrition Programs:
    Examine challenges associated with the availability and use of child nutrition programs or the advancement of child nutrition in rural areas.
  • Food Security:
    Explore the current and/or changing characteristics of food insecure populations in rural areas and the strategies used to cope with food insecurity.
  • Household Economic Instability and Food Assistance Participation:
    Assess the impact of community and/or household economic shocks (such as plant closures or job losses; family financial hardships), the housing downturn, and/or health care costs on adult and child food assistance participation rates.
  • Food Choices: Socio-Economic Determinants and Consequences:
    Explore the economic determinants and consequences of food choices. Assess the role of behavioral economics and incentives in helping adults or children make choices that promote better nutrition and health.
  • Food/Nutrition Assistance Program Use:
    Examine whether key features of the "built environment" (i.e., availability of local offices, access to transportation services, web-based or face-to-face enrollment process) have an impact on food assistance program participation rates.
  • Place-Based Factors Affecting Food Access or Choices:
    Explore place-based factors that may affect the nutritional health of local residents. Explore new approaches and/or methodologies for documenting the presence of "food deserts" in rural/urban areas.