Title

To What Degree Does Food Assistance Help Poor Households Acquire Enough Food?

Date of Original Version

2002

Type

Working Paper

Abstract or Description

We study the efficacy of public and private food assistance in alleviating food shortages among poor households by considering the effects of all major forms of domestic food assistance– the Food Stamp Program, WIC, and food pantries. The analyses are based on detailed data that were collected in 1993 from 398 low-income households in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. This research adds to the knowledge base on the efficacy of public and private food assistance in alleviating food shortages among poor households by jointly considering the effects of both public and private forms of food assistance. After reconsidering standard food consumption models, the analysis modifies these models to account for misspecification and extends these models to include the effects of both public and private food assistance. Then, we examine the effect each of the widely available forms of food assistance has on helping poor households acquire enough resources to potentially meet basic nutritional requirements. Research findings suggest that compared with other forms of food assistance, the receipt of a significant amount in food stamps has a much greater impact on whether a household attains at least the Thrifty Food Plan than the receipt of food from a food pantry or through the WIC program.