Healthy Eating Research is pleased to announce 9 new research teams funded through our 2021 special solicitation on COVID-19 and Socioeconomic Recovery Efforts. This call for proposals focused on how policies and programs related to poverty reduction, such as COVID-19 relief and recovery policies, impact child health and well-being.

We look forward to working with these teams over the next year and a half and sharing the results of their projects.

1. From Policy to Reality: Assessment of the Successes & Challenges with WIC Cash-Value Benefit Changes in Increasing Child Access to Fruits & Vegetables

Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition; PI: Allison Nitto, PhD, RD

Recent cash-value benefit increases could increase fruit and vegetable access for children in WIC. The aims of the study include identifying ways to increase fruit and vegetable access for low-income and racially/ethnically diverse children that are at higher risk of negative health outcomes. Learn more. 

2. Child and Adult Care Food Program: Impacts of COVID-19 Differences in Reimbursement Rates on Family Childcare Home Providers, Children, and Families

University of California; PI: Lorrene Ritchie, PhD, RD, Co-PI: Susana Matias Medrano, PhD

This study aims to understand the impact of COVID-19 changes to CACFP reimbursement rates for family child care homes on CACFP participation, food quality, and food security. It will also identify policy recommendations to maximize CACFP participation and equitable access to healthy foods. Learn more.

3. Evaluation of Universal Free School Meals

Merrimack College; PI: Juliana Cohen, ScD, ScM, Co-PI: Wendi Gosliner, DrPH, MPH

The purpose of this study is to compare the impact of continuing Universal Free School Meals (UFSM) in Maine and California with the impact of de-implementing UFSM in control states during the 2022-23 school year. Learn more.

4. Longitudinal Study of Low-Income Families with Young Children: Assessing California Communities’ Experiences with Safety Net Supports Survey (ACCESS)

University of California; PI: Lia Fernald, PhD, MBA; Co-PI: Wendi Gosliner, DrPH, MPH

This study aims to understand participants’ awareness of COVID-19 related relief supports such as Pandemic EBT, free school meals, SNAP, charitable food programs, the child tax credit, and EITC; identify barriers to uptake of these supports; and examine the impacts on family health and wellbeing. Learn more. 

5. Is the Housing Crisis Preventing Families with Children from Receiving Food Assistance?

Princeton University; PI: Matthew Desmond, PhD, Co-PI: Carl Gershenson, PhD

Housing and food insecurity are tightly linked. This study aims to understand how usage of SNAP, WIC, and other programs is affected by families experiencing evictions. Learn more.

6. COVID-19 relief measures and food insecurity among low-wage worker families

University of Connecticut; PI: Caitlin Caspi, ScD

This research study aims to understand participation, gaps in participation, and experiences with COVID-19 relief measures, as well as whether and how COVID-19-related relief measures were related to changes in food insecurity among households with children. Learn more. 

7. Effects of SNAP Participation on the Healthfulness of Foods Purchased by Households with Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Research Triangle Institute; PI: Mary Muth, BS, MS, PhD

This study aims to understand the impact of changes made to SNAP under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of March 2020 on participating households’ food purchases, including the nutritional quality of foods purchased. Learn more.

8. SNAP Purchasing Power and Food Insecurity During the Pandemic

University of Florida; PI: Di Fang, PhD, Co-PI: Michael Thomsen, PhD

Food price inflation is an adverse outcome of COVID-19 that makes nutritional food security more difficult for low-income families with children. The goal of this study is to provide insight into food price increases and how they are affecting the affordability of a nutritionally balanced diet. Learn more.

9. The Effect of Pandemic EBT on Food Hardship and Family Well-being

Georgetown University; PI: Krista Ruffini, BA, MPA, MA, PhD, Co-PI: Lauren Bauer, PhD

Pandemic EBT provides children who receive free or reduced-price meals with a voucher to purchase groceries for an amount equal to the value of school meals missed due to pandemic-related school closures. This project will provide some of the first causal evidence on how the Pandemic EBT program affects well-being. Learn more.