RIDGE Center
Project Highlights

Project Highlights

Food Assistance Participation

State and federal policymakers have introduced significant changes to our nation’s public assistance programs in recent years. In some cases, these policy changes have produced unexpected declines in food assistance program enrollments on the part of our nation’s low-wealth population. In other cases, declining enrollments have been the product of other factors, such as limited access to human service agency offices by poor individuals/families, or aversion to the use of food assistance programs on the part of ethnic minorities. Understanding the factors impacting the food assistance participation patterns of poor adults and families in the South is an important avenue of research that the SRDC has supported as part of the RIDGE program.

Download

Food Assistance Challenges

Food assistance and food security issues remain of paramount importance in the Southern region of the United States. The reason is quite simple – the South heads the nation in terms of the number of low-income households experiencing very low food security. Given that food insecurity is closely linked to poverty, and that the South remains the most impoverished area of the country, it is clear that food assistance challenges will continue to confront our region. Since Hispanics and African-Americans are projected to be the major drivers of our region’s population expansion over the next decade, and poverty rates remain highest among these racial and ethnic groups, it is critical for the SRDC to invest in research that helps expand our understanding of the food assistance needs of these important population groups.

Download

Impacts of Food Assistance Policies

Implementing sound policies that meet the food assistance needs of low-wealth people, families and households in a fiscally sound manner remains an important role of our federal and state governments. When new food assistance policies are enacted, careful assessments by the social sciences community are needed if the implications of these policy shifts are to be fully understood. Important RIDGE-supported research in the South has been dedicated to examining how changes in various programs, such as the Food Stamp Program, welfare assistance and dietary guidelines, have played out in the region, selected states or rural counties in the South.

Download

Food Insecurity

The problem of food insecurity – the lack of access to enough food at all times to maintain active, healthy living – is most pronounced in the Southern region of the United States. The latest data released by the Economic Research Service notes that food insecurity now stands at 12 percent among Southern households. Hardest hit are households headed by a female with children present, African-Americans, Hispanics and Southerners living below the poverty line. The SRDC’s investments in research addressing food security and hunger via the RIDGE program are designed to delineate the set of individual, household and community factors that may be amplifying the food security challenges faced by Southerners today.

Download

Food Access: Quality and Cost

One of the key goals associated with of our nation’s 15 food assistance programs is to provide children and low-income adults with access to healthy, nutritious and high quality foods. Despite the commitment to improving the health status of participants, research continues to show that the diet and nutritional outcomes of those taking part in these programs are not as significant as one would expect. But why? While the answers are far from simple, the SRDC has awarded RIDGE grants to a variety of researchers whose purpose has been to decipher the set of contextual or environmental factors that could be at play in shaping the nutritional health of low-wealth people in the rural South.

Download

Nutrition and Obesity

Despite the negative health effects tied to poor nutrition and limited physical activity, the prevalence of obesity and poor diets among our nation’s adult and youth population continues to accelerate. Unfortunately, the South leads the nation in terms of the percentage of people who are overweight or obese — conditions that contribute to a myriad of health-related diseases. In fact, eight of the 10 states with the highest rates of adult obesity are located in the South. These startling statistics are reason enough for the SRDC to focus RIDGE seed funds on efforts to advance our understanding of the factors that shape the nutritional health of adults and children situated in the rural South.

Download

RIDGE Center

ERS

The Economic Research Service provides Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics to stimulate innovative research on food and nutrition assistance issues. The SRDC is one of two partnership institutions.