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Seminar Series : Food Insecurity and SNAP Participation Among Immigrant Families During the Economic Downturn

Heather Koball, Senior Fellow, Labor, Human Services, and Population Center, Urban Institute
When Apr 15, 2013
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 0124B Cole Student Activities Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Talk

Immigrant workers are overrepresented in industries, such as service and construction, that have been the hardest hit in the recession, resulting in increased economic insecurity for many immigrant families. Furthermore, federal policies restrict immigrants’ eligibility for key safety net programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Some states have filled this gap by providing SNAP-like benefits to immigrants who are otherwise federally ineligible. This study analyzes data from the Food Security Supplement of the Current Population Survey to determine whether immigrant families’ food insecurity has risen during the economic downturn. We analyze whether state policies that expand immigrant SNAP eligibility benefit immigrant families. Results suggest that immigrant families’ food insecurity has risen significantly more than that of non-immigrants during the recession. We find that immigrant families are more likely to participate in SNAP and receive higher SNAP benefits in states that expand eligibility. Being eligible for SNAP was associated with lower food insecurity among immigrant families during the recession; however, this result was not statistically significant.

About the Speaker

Heather Koball, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow with the Labor, Human Services, and Population Center (LHP) at the Urban Institute. She is currently directing and managing two immigration-focused projects for the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), HHS. One focuses on immigrant enforcement activities and the well-being of children of immigrants; the other on immigrants’ access to health and human services. She has led several studies that examine immigrant integration using nationally representative surveys, including Census data, the Current Population Survey (CPS), American Community Survey (ACS), and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. She has studied variation in state policies in immigrants’ eligibility for SNAP benefits and Medicaid / CHIP. For the Department of Labor (DOL) she designed and led an Evaluation of National Farmworker Jobs Program, which often provides employment services for immigrant farmworkers. She also has expertise in programs for at-risk youth. She is currently leading the design of an evaluation of programs that serve disconnected youth who are neither employed nor in school. As co-Principal Investigator for the Youth Demonstration Development project for HHS she developed a conceptual framework that addressed childhood risk factors as the precursor to poor educational and employment outcomes. Finally, as project director for the Marriage and Health in African American Communities study for ASPE she successfully organized and led a large conference that brought together a range of stakeholders, and she edited a special issue of the Journal of Family Issues based on the research produced for the conference.

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