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Abstract

Most Americans need to consume more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. This need is particularly acute among low-income individuals. The objective of this study is to examine the cost effectiveness of two economic policies that use alternative policy levers available within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamp Program) to increase consumption of these under-consumed foods. Data from three nationally representative surveys are used to estimate demand elasticities, marginal propensity to spend on food out of food stamp benefits, and consumption amount of and spending on under-consumed foods among food stamp recipients. Results of the analyses suggest that a 10% price subsidy would curtail consumption deficiencies by 4–7% at an estimated cost of $734 million a year. When the same $734 million is used to finance food stamp benefits, consumption deficiencies are predicted to narrow by only 0.35 to 0.40%.

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