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Cashing out food stamps: Impacts on food expenditures and diet quality

By Barbara Devaney and Thomas Fraker

Abstract

On July 1, 1982, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico implemented a cash food assistance program, known as the Nutrition Assistance Program, as a replacement for the existing Food Stamp Program. The Nutrition Assistance Program differs from the former Puerto Rico Food Stamp Program in two important respects: cash replaced coupons as the form of issuance and eligibility standards and benefits were reduced to bring program costs into line with a reduced funding level. Based on household food use survey data collected before and after the introduction of the Nutrition Assistance Program, this paper examines the program's impacts on household food expenditures and diet quality. The results of the analysis indicate that the cashing out of food stamp benefits in Puerto Rico had virtually no impact on food expenditures and diet quality, while restrictions on eligibility and benefits under the Nutrition Assistance Program caused a decline in the money value of food used at home of about 2 percent and reductions in the availability of food energy and five specific nutrients ranging from 1.8 to 3.2 percent of the adult male Recommended Dietary Allowances.

DOI identifier: 10.1002/pam.4050050404
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