• Simple Item 5
  • Simple Item 4
  • Simple Item 6
  • Simple Item 3
  • Simple Item 1
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5


  1. Economic Conditions and Program Policy Help Drive Average SNAP Benefit Levels

USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income households with monthly benefits to supplement their resources for purchasing food. Benefit amounts increase with household size and decrease with household income. Between 1980 and 2017, average monthly benefits grew from $34 per person to $126 per person. Much of this increase reflects the fact that SNAP benefit levels are updated annually for food price inflation so that their purchasing power does not erode. However, even when benefits are adjusted for inflation, average per person benefits rise and fall as characteristics of SNAP households, such as income, change in response to economic conditions and policy changes. Measured in 2017 dollars to adjust for inflation, average monthly SNAP benefits increased from $99 per person in 1980 to $119 in 2008. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided all recipients with increased SNAP benefits, and average inflation-adjusted SNAP benefits jumped to $143 per person in that year, climbed to $152 in 2010, and then began falling as the ARRA increase was phased out and economic conditions improved. Inflation-adjusted and nominal benefit amounts have been similar in the past few years, as food price increases have been small.


  1. Center for American Progress “A Compass for Families: Head Start in Rural America Report”

“A Compass for Families: Head Start in Rural America Report” details the importance of Head Start programs to rural communities. The report details the services Head Start provides for rural families, such as child care, connection to health services, and transportation, among others, and features county level data and rural-urban comparisons.

  1. Distance to Grocery Stores and Vehicle Access Affect Low-Income Shoppers’ Food Spending

Difficulty accessing large grocery stores may increase a household's reliance on smaller stores and restaurants, possibly resulting in a diet of low-nutritional quality and related health problems. ERS researchers used data captured in USDA's National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) to examine if differences in how far low-income households live from large grocery stores and whether they own a car influences their food spending behaviors. Among low-income households, the researchers found that access-burdened and sufficient-access households spent similar shares of their weekly food spending at grocery stores (57-58 percent) and at small grocery, ethnic, and specialty food stores (3-5 percent). Differences between the two low-income access groups did arise in spending at convenience, dollar, drug, and other small stores and at eating places. Access-burdened households spent a higher share of their food expenditures at convenience, dollar, drug, and other small stores than sufficient-access households and a smaller share of their food budgets at eating places. In 2012, 26.4 percent of U.S. households were low-income sufficient-access households and 4.7 percent were low-income access-burdened.

  1. Emergency Preparedness and Recovery: A Toolkit for Rural Communities

Planners4Health has published “Emergency Preparedness and Recovery: A Toolkit for Rural Communities” that provides information and resources to assist a long term recovery group (LTRG) responding to a disaster and implementing recovery plans in a rural community. The Toolkit addresses the infrastructure and health needs of rural residents in a disaster.

  1. Small Family Farms Accounted for Half the Farmland, But Only 23 Percent of Production

In 2016, 99 percent of U.S. farms were family farms, where the principal operator and his or her relatives owned the majority of the business. Small family farms—those with less than $350,000 in annual gross cash farm income (GCFI)—accounted for about 90 percent of U.S. farms, half of all farmland, and a quarter of the value of production. By comparison, large-scale family farms—those with $1 million or more in GCFI—made up only 3 percent of U.S. farms and 18 percent of farmland, but contributed 45 percent of production. Nonfamily farms, such as partnerships of unrelated partners and corporations, accounted for just 1 percent of U.S. farms and 10 percent of production. The 19 percent of nonfamily farms with GCFI of $1 million or more accounted for 88 percent of all nonfamily farms’ production.

  1. Kresge Foundation Journey to Creative Placemaking

Lessons from the Kresge Foundation’s Journey to Creative Placemaking – the integration of arts, culture, and resident-engaged design into community development and planning – are highlighted in a series of white papers launched recently by the Foundation’s Arts & Culture Program. The papers are geared toward helping grantmakers and creative placemaking practitioners more successfully integrate arts and culture into community development

  1. Low-Income Households Are Less Likely to Use Nutrition Information than Higher Income Households

A new ERS study used nine questions from USDA’s 2012-13 National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) to create a Nutrition Information Use index. The index is based on answers from FoodAPS primary respondents related to their awareness and use of various nutrition education initiatives, such as USDA’s MyPlate guidance and Nutrition Facts labels. The index summarizes the answer scores into one score, giving more weight to more important questions. When answers to questions with more weight are above average (e.g., the person uses Nutrition Facts labels all the time), the score is positive. If the answers are below average (e.g., the person never uses Nutrition Facts labels), the score is negative. Index scores for FoodAPS households ranged from -2.3 to 3.9, with a higher score indicating a greater use of nutrition information. The average score for all households was 0.23, and 58 percent of households had scores between -1.0 and 1.0. Higher income households that did not participate in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) had an average index score that was two and half times higher than SNAP households and low-income non-SNAP households. However, index score differences did not seem to explain why higher income non-SNAP households’ food purchases were more healthful than the other two groups.

  1. Rural Child Poverty Map Was Most Concentrated in the Mississippi Delta

About one in four (23.5 percent) rural children in the United States were poor in 2016, compared to about one in five (20.5 percent) of urban children. Forty-one counties in the U.S. had child poverty rates of 50 percent or higher on average between 2012 and 2016. Thirty-eight of these counties were rural (nonmetro) counties, heavily clustered in the South (31 out of 38). The rural counties with the highest child poverty rates were Mellette County, South Dakota (70.9 percent); Issaquena County, Mississippi (68.7 percent); and East Carroll Parish, Louisiana (68.4 percent). Thirteen of the rural counties with child poverty rates of 50 percent or higher were in Mississippi—mainly along the Mississippi Delta region where child poverty rates have been persistently high, particularly among the black or African American child population.

  1. Mellon Foundation “Museums as Economic Engines: A National Report

To understand the role museums play in our economy, the Mellon Foundation supported a study by the American Alliance of Museums and Oxford Economics called "Museums as Economic Engines: A National Report." The report says that museums serve as economic engines, contributing $50 billion to the U.S. GDP, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs and generating billions of dollars in tax revenues across the country.

  1. As Income Rises, Households Tend to Devote a Larger Share of Their At-Home Food Spending to Vegetables

ERS researchers used household-level data from Information Resources Inc. to investigate how food spending patterns differ by household income and age of the household food shopper. The researchers found that as per person income rises, households spend a larger portion of their at-home food expenditures on vegetables. This was true for all four generations examined, though the increase for Traditionalists was small. Poorer Millennials assigned lower shares of at-home food spending to vegetables than Traditionalists and Baby Boomers with similar incomes. Millennials with higher incomes apportioned more of their food budgets to vegetables, surpassing Traditionalists when per capita household income was around $30,000. The wealthiest Millennial households (per capita income greater than $50,000) dedicated about 8 percent of their food budgets to vegetables, compared to around 6 percent for the other generation groups in the same income decile. The rise in vegetable purchases among wealthier Millennials may reflect Millennials’ preference for healthy foods.

  1. Farm Share of U.S. Food Dollar Declined Again in 2016

On average, U.S. farmers received 14.8 cents for farm commodity sales from each dollar spent on domestically-produced food in 2016, down from 15.5 cents in 2015. Known as the farm share, this amount is at its lowest level for the period 1993 to 2016, and coincides with a steep drop in 2016 average prices received by U.S. farmers, as measured by the Producer Price Index for farm products. ERS uses input-output analysis to calculate the farm and marketing shares from a typical food dollar, including food purchased at grocery stores and at restaurants, coffee shops, and other eating out places. 2016 was the fifth consecutive year that the farm share has declined, though the 4.5-percent drop in 2016 was below 2015’s 9.9-percent fall. The drop in farm share also coincides with five consecutive years of increases in the share of food dollars paying for services provided by the foodservice industry. Since farmers receive a smaller share from eating out dollars, due to the added costs for preparing and serving meals, more food-away-from-home spending will also drive down the farm share.


  1. USDA Rural Development Innovation Center Website

Assistant to the Secretary for USDA Rural Development Anne Hazlett unveiled a new interactive webpage to identify best practices for building rural prosperity. The webpage highlights effective strategies that have been used to create jobs, build infrastructure, strengthen partnerships, and promote economic development in rural America.

  1. Utilizing Section 538 for Preservation and Rehabilitation of Section 515 Rental Housing Webinar

Housing Assistance Council is offering a webinar on USDA’s Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program-Part II, Utilizing Section 538 for Preservation and Rehabilitation of Section 515 Rental Housing, on June 6, 2018 at 2:00 PM EDT.



Our FB Feed