Nav: Home

Age limit for federal food assistance program impacts reading scores, learning

June 19, 2018

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Nearly 1 million children face food insecurity simply because they were born late in the year. No safety net coverage exists for these children when they age out of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and they are not yet eligible to attend kindergarten. Irma Arteaga, assistant professor in the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri, has found that not only does the coverage gap impact overall food insecurity, it reduces reading scores at kindergarten entry, a time when children are often placed on learning trajectories. Arteaga says policymakers should consider extending WIC eligibility until children enter school rather than setting an age limit.

"The cutoff age of 5 for WIC is associated with an assumption that this is the normal age at which children enter kindergarten and become eligible for lunch programs," Arteaga said. "However, not all children who are 5 automatically begin school. State and local rules, not federal, determine the age at which children begin kindergarten. These rules are reliant on some predetermined date--for example, Sept. 1­--meaning children born after that date will not enter kindergarten until the following year, thus losing WIC benefits with nothing to replace them."

Arteaga and her team analyzed data for 1,950 children between the ages of 4 and 6½ from a nationally representative data set. The researchers found evidence that children who had aged out of WIC prior to attending kindergarten had lower reading scores compared to their peers when tested at entry. The scores improved when tested again in the spring after children had access to food through school lunch programs.

The findings were consistent with prior MU research that showed an increase in rates of food insecurity for children who age out of WIC and who have not yet started kindergarten.

"The coverage gap that exists for children who are aging out of WIC is a problem that can be fixed," Arteaga said. "Policymakers should address the unintended consequences facing millions of children each year who are unlucky enough to be born in the wrong state and in the wrong month."
-end-
"Design flaws: consequences of the coverage gap in food programs for children at kindergarten entry," recently was published in Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy. Colleen Heflin, professor in the Maxwell School of Public Administration and International Affairs at Syracuse University, and Sarah Parsons, director of Institutional Research at Westminster College, co-authored the study. Research was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Institute for Research on Poverty RIDGE Center for Policy Research at the University of Wisconsin. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agency.

University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Food Insecurity Articles:

To ensure constant food supply edible dormice rather give up their favorite food
Edible dormice feed preferably on high-energy seeds for reproduction and putting on fat reserves.
Food insecurity can affect your mental health
Food insecurity (FI) affects nearly 795 million people worldwide. Although a complex phenomenon encompassing food availability, affordability, utilization, and even the social norms that define acceptable ways to acquire food, FI can affect people's health beyond its impact on nutrition.
Food insecurity in early childhood linked to young children's skills in kindergarten
In the United States, estimates show that a substantial number of children under age 5 live in households that are food insecure.
Money, not access, key to resident food choices in 'food deserts'
A new study finds that, while access to healthy foods is a significant challenge, the biggest variable limiting diet choices in so-called 'food deserts' is limited financial resources.
Food on Mars, food on Earth: NASA taps USU scientists for space quest
To survive on Mars, explorers will have to be self-sufficient.
Northwestern anthropologist receives grant to measure water insecurity
Under a new $310,000 grant from the UK-funded Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions research initiative, Northwestern University anthropologist Sera Young, a fellow in the University's Institute for Policy Research, and an international team of researchers seek to develop a cross-cultural scale of perceived household water insecurity.
Food insecurity: A threat to the developmental and psychosocial health of children
Household food insecurity (FI) (without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, even for a temporary period), is associated with children's behavioral, academic and emotional problems beginning as early as infancy.
Fast food packaging contains potentially harmful chemicals that can leach into food
A comprehensive analysis of fast food packaging in the US shows that many restaurants use food packaging containing highly fluorinated chemicals, or PFASs.
New categorization of food scares will prevent food chain being compromised
Researchers from the University of Surrey have developed a new comprehensive categorization of food scares, a new study in the British Food Journal reports.
Nutrition program improves food stamp family's food security
Food stamp participants who participated in a supplemental nutrition education program were able to improve their food security by 25 percent, according to a study by Purdue University.

Related Food Insecurity Reading:

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America
by Kathryn Edin (Author), H. Luke Shaefer (Author)

Understanding Food Insecurity: Key Features, Indicators, and Response Design
by Maria Sassi (Author)

Food and Poverty: Food Insecurity and Food Sovereignty among America's Poor
by Leslie Hossfeld (Editor), E. Brooke Kelly (Editor), Julia Waity (Editor)

Women Redefining the Experience of Food Insecurity: Life Off the Edge of the Table
by Janet Page-Reeves (Editor)

Voices of Hunger: Food Insecurity in the United States
by Courtney I. P. Thomas (Editor)

Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity
by Lester R. Brown (Author)

The Unending Hunger: Tracing Women and Food Insecurity Across Borders
by Megan A. Carney (Author)

SNAP Matters: How Food Stamps Affect Health and Well-Being (Studies in Social Inequality)
by Judith Bartfeld (Editor), Craig Gundersen (Editor), Timothy Smeeding (Editor), James P. Ziliak (Editor)

Food Insecurity and Public Health
by Louise Ivers (Editor)

Food Insecurity (At Issue)
by Louise I. Gerdes (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Bias And Perception
How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us. Guests include writer and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, climatologist J. Marshall Shepherd, journalist Andreas Ekström, and experimental psychologist Tony Salvador.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#514 Arctic Energy (Rebroadcast)
This week we're looking at how alternative energy works in the arctic. We speak to Louie Azzolini and Linda Todd from the Arctic Energy Alliance, a non-profit helping communities reduce their energy usage and transition to more affordable and sustainable forms of energy. And the lessons they're learning along the way can help those of us further south.