Healthy Eating Research is proud to announce the funding of 10 new research teams funded through our 2023 call for proposals. These studies focus on a range of supportive family policies and programs and their potential to improve nutrition and health.

We look forward to working with these teams and sharing the results of their projects.

Determining whether length of participation in social safety-net programs is associated with diet quality and weight status for children 2 to 5

Regents of the University of California, PI: Lauren Au, PhD, RDN

Medicaid, SNAP, and WIC provide low-income children access to vital medical and nutrition services. This project aims to determine whether length of participation in Medicaid, SNAP, and WIC is associated with diet quality and weight status at 2-5 years, and whether there is a synergistic benefit of safety net program participation on diet quality and health.

Assessing racial/ethnic coverage rates at the ZIP-code level for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, PI: Danielle Krobath, PhD; Co-PI: Mei Chung, PhD, MPH, BS

WIC can improve maternal and childhood health and nutrition, yet only 50% of people who qualify for WIC receive benefits, with racial disparities across states. This study will be the first large-scale assessment of WIC coverage rates by zip code, and will examine differences by race/ethnicity, as well as factors influencing program reach by zip code.

Evaluating the impact of state-level economic-support policies on the nutritional health of kids and families

Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, PI: Megan Winkler, PhD, RN

Children experiencing poverty are disproportionately impacted by poor nutritional health., This study aims to estimate the effects of state Earned Income Tax Credit and state-level Minimum Wage generosity on household food security, nutrition behaviors, and child and parent health across different demographic and social groups.

Developing and evaluating a marketing campaign to increase school meal participation to improve children’s dietary quality and reduce food insecurity

Leland Stanford Junior University, PI: Anna Grummon, PhD

Increasing participation in school meals could reduce food insecurity and improve dietary quality, especially for low-income children, but low-cost, scalable strategies for increasing participation in school meals have not yet been identified or evaluated. This study will design and rigorously evaluate a marketing campaign to encourage participation in school meals.

Examining the economic value of free school meals to inform future policy decisions on expansion of free school meals in the U.S.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, PI: Stéphane Verguet, PhD, MPP, MS; Co-PI: Juliana Cohen, ScD, ScM

Growing evidence suggests free school meal policies improve student health outcomes and nutrition equity, but concerns regarding potential costs continue to be a key barrier to passage of these policies. This study will use benefit-cost analysis to conduct an economic evaluation of free school meal policies, comparing states with and without free school meal policies.

Examining how federal food and non-food assistance programs improve food security among households with children, focusing on marginalized populations

University of Georgia Research Foundation, PI: Travis Smith, PhD

Food insecurity is linked to a multitude of adverse health outcomes in adults and children. This study aims to estimate the effect of Medicaid enrollment, SNAP participation, and dual enrollment on child and household measures of food insecurity.

Supporting the Wake Forest School of Medicine in implementing a WIC referral program within electronic health records to optimize WIC participation

Wake Forest University Health Sciences, PI: Kristina Lewis, MD, MPH, SM

Identifying strategies for healthcare systems to efficiently connect pregnant patients with WIC is a public health and policy priority. This study will use the electronic health record (EHR) to screen pregnant patients for WIC enrollment and automate referrals to local WIC programs.

Understanding the social safety net’s impact on food security to inform policy on how best to support children in low-income families

Brookings Institution, PI: Tara Watson, PhD; Co-PI: Lara Shore-Sheppard, PhD

The U.S. social safety net has the potential to reduce food insecurity and improve nutrition by providing resources to low-income families with children. This project will assess the causal impact of major means-tested programs on food insecurity in low-income families with children.

Identifying and addressing implementation barriers to the Healthy Eating Research Nutrition Guidelines for the Charitable Food System

University of Connecticut, PI: Maria Fernanda Gombi Vaca, PhD

The successful implementation of nutrition standards in the charitable food system can have a positive impact on the health of vulnerable populations at high risk for nutrition-related health disparities. This proposal aims to systematically identify challenges and opportunities to improve implementation of the Healthy Eating Research Guidelines for the Charitable Food System in food banks, particularly in terms of completeness and accuracy of nutrition ranking.

Assessing participation in and implementation of summer electronic-benefits-transfer and non-congregate-meal programs in rural areas

Urban Institute, PI: Emily Gutierrez, BBA, MS, PhD; Co-PI: Poonam Gupta, MSPH

Summer EBT and non-congregate meals are summer meal options that have known associations with reducing food hardship and barriers to food access. This study aims to analyze the coverage, take-up, and implementation decisions made around Summer EBT and non-congregate meals.