UKCPR, in cooperation with the Economic Research Service (ERS) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Illinois, launched the FoodAPS Research Initiative in 2014.  The program competitively awarded grants to provide rigorous research that utilizes the new USDA National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) to expand our understanding of (1) household food behaviors and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program including the issues of benefit adequacy, diet quality, cost of a healthy diet, and food security, and (2) the role of the local food environment and other geographic factors on household food purchase and acquisition decisions.  In addition to the FoodAPS data, geographically linked data on the local food environment and food prices compiled as part of the FoodAPS Geography Component (FoodAPS-GC) is available for awardees.  Twelve grants were awarded across the two topical domains.  Their final reports are available as 2016 discussion papers.  There you will also find a summary of those reports by James Ziliak and Craig Gundersen.

USDA's National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) is a nationally representative survey of American households that collects comprehensive data about household food purchases and acquisitions. Detailed information was collected about foods purchased or otherwise acquired for consumption at home and away from home, including foods acquired through food and nutrition assistance programs. In addition, the survey collects a wide array of demographic and other information about the households including information on food security status and SNAP participation.  The survey includes nationally representative data from 4,826 households, including SNAP households and low-income households not participating in SNAP—both of which are oversampled in the survey, as well as higher income households.  For a more detailed description of the survey, see

2016 Grantees

SNAP Benefit Levels, Food Insecurity, and Diet Quality:  Evidence from the Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey"

Columbia University

Lorenzo N. Almada and Ian N. McCarthy

SNAP has been shown to increase food expenditures, reduce food insecurity, and improve the nutritional quality of diets and general health of participants.  However, far less is known on how purchasing behaviors, food security, or health outcomes differ by benefit levels among SNAP participants. In this study, the authors will use FoodAPS data to examine how food insecurity and diet quality differ according to SNAP benefit levels. They will examine how SNAP benefit levels are associated with food insecurity status and diet quality across similar households employing multivariate regression analyses and matching estimators. They will also utilize quasi-experimental variation in per-capita SNAP benefits to estimate causal effects of additional benefits on food security status and diet quality among SNAP households with children.


“Food Acquisition and Health Outcomes among New SNAP Recipients Since the Great Recession”

Stanford University

Jay Bhattacharya and Rita Hamad

Since 2008, there have been substantial expansions in many US safety net programs, and in particular the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The objective of this proposal is to use unique data from FoodAPS to examine the ways in which new recipients of SNAP benefits differ in food purchasing and health outcomes relative to families who were already receiving benefits prior to the recession. The authors will create a matching algorithm to identify whether individuals receiving SNAP in FoodAPS are likely to be new or returning recipients, and utilize detailed descriptions of food purchasing behaviors and environmental factors in FoodAPS and FoodAPS-GC to determine whether new SNAP recipients differ from return recipients. They will compare health outcomes among new versus existing recipients – including body mass index (BMI) and food insecurity – while adjusting for income, household size, and other sociodemographic factors.


“Food Acquisitions, the Thrifty Food Plan, and Benefit Adequacy for SNAP Participants”

Virginia Tech University

Wen You and George C. Davis

This proposal will examine whether the value of SNAP households’ food acquisitions exceeds or falls below the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan. The authors will use more informative poverty indexes than have been considered in the past when looking at food expenditures relative to the TFP.  The authors will use the FoodAPS newly added retail food prices data, coupled with the identification of nearest and primary stores, to estimate local ‘TFP-like’ thresholds, and will then use the event record files to decompose total food acquisition expenditures to determine the contribution made to each poverty index by different types of food expenditures. With knowledge of differences in poverty index values by geographic location or other relevant data partitions, such as employment, SNAP benefit cycle location, or by food group, quantitative information will be available for targeting policy adjustments designed to reduce poverty through SNAP.


2014 Grantees

The Influence of SNAP Participation and Food Environment on Nutritional Quality of Food at Home Purchases

University of Pennsylvania

Amy Hillier, Benjamin Chrisinger, and Tony E. Smith


The Effects of Benefit Timing and Income Fungibility on Food Purchasing Decisions among SNAP Households

University of Georgia

Joshua P. Berning, Jeffery H. Dorfman, Gregory Colson, and Travis A. Smith


“The Spatial Context of Food Shopping:  Understanding How Local Food Retailer Access and Pricing Affect Household Behavior” (Forthcoming)

University of Chicago

Scott W. Allard and Patricia Ruggles


The Effect of Food Price on Food Insecurity and Diet Quality:  Exploring the Potential Moderating Roles of SNAP and Consumer Competency

University of Mississippi

Yunhee Chang, Jinhee Kim, and Swarn Chatterjee


A Spatial Interaction Model of Food Access and Its Relationship to Food Insecurity

University of California, Berkeley

Barbara Laraia, Hilary Hoynes, and Janelle Downing


If You Build It, Will They Come?  Store Choice Determinants among SNAP and Low-Income Households

University of California, Berkeley

Sofia Berto Villas-Boas


Do SNAP Recipients Get the Best Prices?

Texas Tech University

Conrad Lyford, Carlos Carpio, Tullaya Boonsaeng, and Janani Thapa


Variation in Food Pricing and SNAP Adequacy for Purchasing the Thrifty Food Plan

Swarthmore College

Erin Bronchetti, Garret Christensen, and Benjamin Hansen


Neighborhood Disadvantage, Food Resources in the Environment, and the Influence on Food Store Choice and Purchasing Behavior among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participants and SNAP Eligible Households

University of Kentucky

Alison Gustafson


The Relationship of Food Price Variations to Healthy Food Acquisition

University of California, San Francisco

Sanjay Basu, Christopher Wimer, and Hilary Seligman


Household Composition and the Calorie Crunch:  The Importance of Non-Unitary Models of the Family for Budgeting over Time

University of Oregon

Michael Kuhn


Contextualizing Family Food Decisions:  The Role of Household Characteristics, Neighborhood Deprivation, and Local Food Environments

North Carolina State

Sarah Bowen, Richelle Winkler, J. Dara Bloom, and Lillian O’Connell


Food Security and Geographic Factors in Food Purchanse and Acquisition Decisions: A Compilation of Research

James P. Ziliak and Craig Gundersen (Editors)