Analysis of Assistance Programs and Consumer Preferences
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spends over $100 billion each year on 15 domestic food assistance programs. Although these programs vary by eligibility requirements, population they target, and form of benefit they provide, all of these programs are designed help ensure that low-income families and individuals have access to affordable and nutritious food. In the past few decades more and more Americans have become obese and overweight (Ogden, 2010). Due to the additional risk factors associated with poverty, food insecure and low-income individuals are especially vulnerable to obesity, since many of them eat a low quality diet, consuming too much calorie-dense, low nutrient foods and too little fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Higher rates of overweight and obesity among program participants have raised questions about whether these food and nutrition assistance programs contribute to the problem. In this regard, food assistance programs have received a renewed interest and undergone some changes, especially the ones that target children.