A Monthly Cycle in Food Expenditure and Intake by Participants in the U.S. Food Stamp Program
This paper uses nationally representative data to describe monthly cycles in food expenditure and food intake by food stamp recipients. Food expenditure peaks sharply in the first 3 days after food stamps are received. The corresponding cycle in food intake differs for various categories of food stamp recipients. Food stamp recipients who also receive AFDC appear to maintain steady food intake across the whole month, while AFDC nonrecipients experience a significant drop in intake at the end of the month. Children appear to maintain steady food intake, while adults appear to experience a significant drop. Households that conduct major grocery shopping trips more frequently than once per month maintain steady food intake, while households that shop less frequently experience a significant drop. The food stamp cycle has implications for two areas of research: the measurement of hunger and food insecurity in the United States and the measurement of the impact of the U.S. Food Stamp Program. Intramonthly patterns in food expenditure and food intake have potential implications for policy decisions about the frequency of food stamp benefit delivery, the evaluation of new electronic benefit transfer systems that are replacing traditional food stamp coupons, and nutrition education efforts.
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