Pediatrics Publishes Abt Associates' Study on Impact of Summer Nutrition Benefit for Low-Income Children

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New study details how providing a summer nutrition benefit transfer program resulted in reduced low food security among low-income children.

This study demonstrates the value of providing food benefits to children who don’t have enough to eat during the summer, both in terms of the quantity of food available to them and the quality of their diet.

An article in the April 2018 issue of Pediatrics, “A Summer Nutrition Benefit Pilot Program and Low-income Children’s Food Security,” details how providing a summer nutrition benefit transfer program resulted in reduced very low food security among low-income children. The benefit reduced low-income children’s very low food security by one third, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and reduced consumption of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, with the exception of cereals. Pediatrics is the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The article is based on an Abt Associates random assignment evaluation of approximately 52,000 households with school-age children certified for free or reduced-price meals during the school year. The study was conducted in 16 communities over a three-year period (2011-2013).

Only about 15 percent of the children who receive federally supported free or reduced-price meals during the school year currently receive meal assistance during the summer, and research suggests that low-income households with children have a higher risk of food insecurity in the summer.

The study evaluated the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (SEBTC) Demonstrations, which provided summer food assistance via electronic benefits transfer cards. Among the key findings:

SEBTC Benefit Use:

  • Participation rates were high. Ninety percent of households that were issued a $60 per-child monthly SEBTC benefit used those benefits at least once. The participation rate for households issued the $30 per-child benefit was 88.3 percent.
  • Redemption rates were high. Among all households assigned either a $60 or $30 benefit, 77 percent of benefits were redeemed. The redemption rate was 2 percentage points higher in the $60 group than in the $30 group.

Impacts on Children’s Food Security:

  • Relative to no benefit, a $60 SEBTC monthly per-child benefit decreased the prevalence of very low food security among children during the summer by one-third (p<.01).
  • SEBTC also reduced the prevalence of food insecurity among children by 20 percent. (p<.01). Without SEBTC, 43 percent of households reported food insecure children; with a $60 per-child monthly benefit, the rate was 34.7 percent of households.

Impacts on Children’s Dietary Intake:

  • Compared with no benefit, the $60 per-child monthly benefit improved six of the eight child nutrition outcomes measured by the study, based on guardians’ reports of children’s average daily consumption of foods. The $60 benefit increased children’s mean daily consumption of:

     - Fruits and vegetables by one-third of a cup (a 13 percent difference),
     - Whole grains by the equivalent of a half of side of whole wheat bread or one-fourth a cup of cooked brown rice per day (a 30 percent difference).

“This study demonstrates the value of providing food benefits to children who don’t have enough to eat during the summer, both in terms of the quantity of food available to them and the quality of their diet,” said Jacob Klerman, principal associate at Abt Associates, and one of the study’s authors.

Mathematica Policy Research and MAXIMUS partnered with Abt in the study.

Read more about the article.

About Abt Associates:

Abt Associates is an engine for social impact, dedicated to moving people from vulnerability to security. Harnessing the power of data and our experts’ grounded insights, we provide research, consulting and technical services globally in the areas of health, environmental and social policy, technology and international development. http://www.abtassociates.com

Contact:
Mary Maguire
301-347-5859
Mary_Maguire@abtassoc.com

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Mary Maguire
Abt Associates
+1 (301) 347-5859
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