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Who feels the calorie crunch and when? The impact of school meals on cyclical food insecurity

Michael Kuhn ()

Journal of Public Economics, 2018, vol. 166, issue C, 27-38

Abstract: Monthly welfare programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) produce consistent cycles of expenditure and consumption among recipients. Food insecurity, health status, crime, poor behavior and test scores track these cycles. This paper leverages new data from the USDA—the FoodAPS survey—to better understand these cycles in three ways. First, I find that expenditure and consumption cycles are correlated within households–a fact not previously established. Second, I study diet quality over the benefit month, and find that it worsens, potentially compounding the harmful consequences of cyclical food insecurity. Third, I find that kids bear less of the burden of the consumption cycle than adults, and that much of this difference may be driven by school-meal programs. This finding suggests large potential gains in child welfare from expanding summer meal programs.

Keywords: SNAP; Consumption smoothing; Food security; School meal programs (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D13 D14 D91 I38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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