Domestic Food Assistance Programs

M any Americans received food assistance from the Federal Government in fiscal 1990, including food stamps, vouchers, food packages, or cash. The Food Stamp Program is the largest of the Federal food assistance programs in terms of both the number of people served and the amount of money spent. Monthly participation rates in the Food Stamp Program were almost 20 million, up over 1 million from fiscal 1989. Through U.S. food assistance programs, over 28 million school children received free or reduced-cost school breakfasts and lunches, and almost 962 million meals were served in the Child Care Food Program. To provide this food, the U.S. Government spent over $24.2 billion in fiscal 1990 (table 1). This represents a 70-percent increase over the $14.2 billion spent in 1980 and over a 10-percent rise since 1989. Overall growth of food assistance programs during the past decade was sporadic, but with a continual upward trend. Three factors account for most of the increase in program expenditures since 1980. First, inflation caused the cost-of-living adjustments to rise each year. Second, increased unemployment associated with recessions in 1982-83 and 1990 created additional demand for food assistance, particularly food stamps. Third, the large accumulation of Government surplus commodities, particularly dairy products, fostered a major increase in food donations, particularly The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). USDA food assistance programs are designed to improve the nutritional wellbeing of low-income persons and other target groups, such as children and the elderly. Food assistance programs, which are administered by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, were initiated during the Great Depression of the 1930's. The programs were to help feed the poor and unemployed and to stabilize farm prices by distributing growing stocks of surplus agricultural commodities. Since then, assistance programs have expanded and new programs have been implemented. The National School Lunch Program and the Food Stamp Program are notable examples.

Issue Date:
Jul 07 1991
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Record Identifier:
Published in:
Food Review: The Magazine of Food Economics, Volume 14, Issue 3
Page range:

 Record created 2017-12-18, last modified 2018-01-22

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