Products and Publications

Each of Insight’s products is designed to convey complex information clearly, effectively, and concisely, particularly to nontechnical audiences. Our white papers, policy briefs, reports, and other publications are tailored to ensure research evidence informs public policy and program implementation. We aim to exceed client expectations with every product delivered.

Food and Nutrition

Enhancing SNAP Quality Control Completion Rates Final Report

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed the Quality Control (QC) process for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 1977 to track and measure errors in both eligibility and benefit determination for the program. States conduct monthly reviews of a statistically representative sample of participating households (active cases) and households for whom participation was denied, terminated, or suspended (negative cases). These reviews measure the validity of SNAP cases and ultimately serve as the basis for the SNAP payment error rate. The SNAP QC process also provides FNS with a probability‐based national sample that supports research on the SNAP population.

National completion rates for SNAP QC reviews have generally declined since peak levels in the 1980s and State‐level completion rates vary widely. The purpose of this study is to examine the factors contributing to incomplete reviews of active cases and to describe best practices associated with high SNAP QC completion rates. Maximizing these completion rates will enable FNS to minimize bias in the QC dataset and most accurately estimate the eligibility and benefit errors made by States.

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WIC Participant and Program Characteristics 2014 Final Report

This publication is the 14th report in the WIC Participant and Program Characteristics (PC) study series.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). WIC benefits include nutritious supplemental foods; nutrition education; counseling, including breastfeeding promotion and support; and referrals to health care, social services, and other community providers for pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to the age of 5 years.1 For pregnant women, WIC seeks to improve fetal development and reduce the incidence of low birth weight, short gestation, and anemia through intervention during the prenatal period. For infants and children, WIC seeks to provide nutritious foods during critical times of growth and development to prevent health problems and improve their health status. For breastfeeding and postpartum women, WIC also seeks to improve dietary intake and promotes breastfeeding as the optimal method of infant feeding.

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WIC Food Packages Policy Options Study II Final Report

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), administered at the Federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides supplemental foods to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to 5 years of age who are at nutritional risk. WIC participants receive a prescription for a food package—a specific set of foods designed to enhance the health and nutrition of infants, children, and mothers. The contents of the food packages were clarified and modified via the Final Rule issued in 2014 (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Revisions in the WIC Food Packages; Final Rule [WIC Final Rule], 2014).1 The purpose of this report is to (1) examine policy options and food allowances implemented by WIC State agencies (WIC SAs) in response to the Final Rule; (2) assess the changes WIC SAs made between fiscal year (FY) 2010 (following the implementation of the Interim Rule (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Revisions in the WIC food packages; Interim Rule [WIC Interim Rule], 2007) and FY 2015 (when WIC SAs implemented most of the options of the Final Rule); and (3) discuss strategies used by WIC SAs to contain program costs.

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Examination of Cash Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits in Puerto Rico

The Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) provides critical nutrition support for low-income residents of Puerto Rico, issuing a monthly benefit that includes both cash and noncash portions. NAP households must redeem at least 75 percent of their benefits electronically through electronic benefit transfer (EBT) at certified retailers, and may redeem the remaining portion (up to 25 percent) in cash. The entire benefit (both the noncash and cash portions) is supposed to be used only for the purchase of eligible food items.1 The purpose of the cash portion is to give participants with limited access to certified retailers a way to purchase food. In February 2014, the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P. L. 113–79, commonly known as the 2014 Farm Bill) reauthorized the NAP block grant and included a provision to phase out the cash portion of the NAP benefit coupled with an equivalent increase in the noncash portion (Agricultural Act of 2014, 2014, § 4025).

The 2014 Farm Bill also mandated a study to assess the potential adverse effects for both participants and food retailers of replacing the 25-percent cash portion with noncash benefits. This study examines the history and purpose of the cash portion, barriers to redeeming the noncash portion, and use of the cash portion for the purchase of nonfood and other prohibited items.

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An Assessment of the Roles and Effectiveness of Community-Based Organizations in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The purpose of this study is to describe the community-based organizations (CBOs) that conducted SNAP eligibility interviews in the four demonstration States; to describe the nature of the partnerships between those CBOs and SNAP personnel; and to examine any associations between the CPI demonstration projects and SNAP program outcomes, including timeliness, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.

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Examining the Growth of the Zero-Income SNAP Caseload: Characteristics, Circumstances, and Dynamics of Zero-Income SNAP Participants

Volume I: Cross-Sectional, Longitudinal, and Policy Analysis Findings, 1993–2008

Volume I of this report presents findings from the repeated cross-sectional, longitudinal, and policy analyses designed to examine trends in this population over time, the dynamics of income and SNAP participation and how economic and policy changes may have affected the population and its representation in the SNAP caseload. Volume II addresses findings from the in-depth interviews designed to understand the circumstances of zero-income SNAP participants and how, with zero income, these participants are coping. Key study results from both volumes are presented below.

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Examining the Growth of the Zero-Income SNAP Caseload: Characteristics, Circumstances, and Dynamics of Zero-Income SNAP Participants

Volume II: In-Depth Interview Findings

Volume I of this report addresses Objectives 1, 3 and 4. This volume addresses Objectives 1 and 2 based on findings from in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 50 zero-gross-income SNAP participants. The purpose of these interviews was to gather firsthand information about the circumstances that can lead zero-income SNAP participants to experience periods of no income and the strategies they use to survive during those periods. Respondents included SNAP participants living in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, or the District of Columbia who reported no income on their SNAP applications. Twenty-eight respondents were women and 22 were men, and more than three-quarters of respondents were unmarried. Approximately three-quarters of the respondents were between 18 and 49 years of age, which is the designated age range for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs). Almost one-quarter of those adults had full custody of dependent children and therefore were exempt from the work program requirements that apply to ABAWDs.

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Evaluation of the Impact of Wave 2 Incentives Demonstrations on Participation in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP): FY 2012

This report presents final findings from the Wave 2 demonstrations using administrative data reported to FNS by SFSP sites and sponsors. Key outcome measures include the total number of meals served and the total number of children served (as measured by average daily attendance, or ADA). Additional outcome measures are illustrated as appropriate to the demonstration including the number of backpacks or meals delivered. This report also presents findings from a sample of non-demonstration sites that served as comparison sites to examine the effectiveness of the demonstrations. Key results for the Wave 2 demonstrations follow.

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WIC Participant and Program Characteristics 2012 Final Report

This publication is the 13th report in the WIC Participant and Program Characteristics (PC) study series.

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