The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is frequently asked, by a variety of nutrition education partners, how it defines a sound impact evaluation. The principles introduced here describe the characteristics of strong impact assessments of nutrition education. They are also consistent with the Government and Performance Results Act and the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance for clear demonstration of program effects.
The national nutrition safety net consists of 15 programs that provide millions of low-income Americans access to a healthy and nutritious diet. It has been observed that many low-income individuals are both overweight and participants in one or more nutrition assistance programs. This has led some to question whether participation in the nutrition assistance programs contributes to the growing problem of overweight and obesity. This report presents the conclusions of an expert panel convened by the Food and Nutrition Service to determine if there is scientific evidence of a relationship between program participation and excess weight.
This report fulfills the request from Congress in the House Appropriations Committee Report (House Report 107-116), which accompanied the Agriculture Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2002. The conference report included the following statement: “The nutritional status of our young people is a matter of public health. The Committee expects the Department to build upon work already done with the food pyramid, and other innovative national and local efforts. Nutrition information should be carefully reviewed so that a consistent and coordinated message is disseminated. Existing opportunities to convey nutrition messages, including newsletters, static displays in cafeterias, in-school and cable television productions should be used to the maximum extent possible. The committee directs the Department to provide a report regarding the development and implementation of this effort by February 1, 2002."
In the past, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has relied on a series of large surveys to gather and compare information on food expenditures and food consumption among participants and non-participants to better understand the impacts of the Food Stamp Program (FSP) on the diet and nutritional status of program participants. Studies based on survey data, however, have a number of drawbacks, including the time and expense of collecting the survey data, sampling error, response bias, errors in respondent recall, and misinformation about what may have been purchased or consumed.
The Conference on Access to Food, held in Washington, D.C., on September 18 and 19, 1995, was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Consumer Service (FCS). The conference was held to bring together food access experts to share their knowledge and help USDA build an agenda to increase access to food for low-income Americans.