Getting with the Programs: Changes in Use of TANF and Food Assistance since Welfare Reform

Constance Newman, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Jessica E. Todd, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Shelly Ver Ploeg, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Welfare reform led to a dramatic reduction in the provision of cash assistance to households with children. At the same time, increased use of food assistance programs may have allowed these households to compensate for some of that loss. We investigate changes in participation and amounts received from AFDC/TANF and the three major food assistance programs since welfare reform, also exploring how these changes varied by household pre-transfer poverty status. Using the Survey of Income and Program Participation, our analysis focuses on data from the early 1990s, prior to major welfare reform, and the early 2000s, well after welfare reform. We find that children in households with income just above the Federal poverty line received greater total benefits by the early 2000s as a result of increases in food assistance, while children in households below the poverty line received the same or lower total benefits by the early 2000s.

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Presented in Poster Session 7